Nash Rawiller returns from more than a month on the sidelines with a great chance of Hong Kong Classic Mile success on Seasons Bloom, a horse trainer Danny Shum Chap-shing suggests will have a fitness edge on his rivals.
Rawiller was outed on four separate careless riding charges that saw him sit out a total of 12 meetings but Shum hasn’t forgotten his main man, with whom he has combined for seven wins this season.
Zac Purton was aboard for Seasons Bloom’s two wins over 1,400m but a commitment to Beauty Generation made the ride available.
“There were many jockeys asking for the ride, but Nash did a lot of work on this horse before his first start – at trackwork and in trials,” Shum said.
Shum has won the Classic Mile twice, with Scintillation in 2005 and Thumbs Up four years later, but the trainer says Seasons Bloom is nothing like either of those two standouts.
“For a start he is a very small horse, they were big horses, up near 1,200 pounds, he is only around 1,030 pounds,” Shum said.
The other key difference between the horses is that Scintillation, a horse Shum inherited from former boss Ivan Allan, and Thumbs Up, an import that arrived off a rating of 87, were both well established before the Classic Mile.
With a rating of 83, Seasons Bloom is the second-lowest rated of the 14 runners in the race and 31 points less than rival Rapper Dragon.
Shum says while some trainers have one eye on the Hong Kong Derby in March, his horse has to win to boost his rating and has been trained accordingly.
“My horse is as fit as I can get him,” Shum said. “The other trainers might be worried about leaving something for the Derby, but I don’t have a choice, we need to win to get our ticket into the Derby.”
Of course, Seasons Bloom hasn’t been tested beyond 1,400m yet but Shum believes a mile will be a problem, especially after drawing barrier three.
“He doesn’t pull, and he does everything right, so I don’t see why he won’t handle 1,600m and even further,” he said.
Rawiller has a full book of 10 rides for eight different trainers on Sunday, with Seasons Bloom the last of three straight chances.
Paul O’Sullivan’s Star Majestic has been running good races and has drawn better in the Po Yan Handicap, while Francis Lui Kin-wai’s Water Diviner is shooting for three straight wins in the Kwong Wah Handicap.