Danny Shum Chap-shing has called on some ancient Chinese wisdom – and his own hard won experience – as he attempts to win his first-ever international day crown with Seasons Bloom in the Longines Hong Kong Mile.
Shum has been here before, with a last start winner as the pre-post favourite for a Group One on Hong Kong racing’s biggest day, but left empty-handed.
In 2011, Little Bridge was a big winner of the Group Two Jockey Club Sprint but failed to produce his best when a flat fourth in the Hong Kong Sprint.
This time, Seasons Bloom enters the Mile three weeks after a big effort to win in the Group Two Jockey Club Mile and the lightly framed gelding has already established a pattern of “bouncing” off a big run and failing to reproduce his best on a back-up.
“But I think I am training much better now than I was back then, I have some more experience,” Shum said.
“In 2011 maybe I tried to too hard to win the Group Two and it left nothing for the Group One. We learn from mistakes, we have an old saying that translates to ‘failure is the mother of success’. This time I have tried to keep the horse happy and relaxed. I think it has worked.”
Seasons Bloom was a dominant winner over 1,200m in the Chief Executive’s Cup but after the five-year-old disappointed connections when second in the Group Three Celebration Cup, Shum elected to skip the Group Two Sha Tin Trophy.
That decision paid off with the impressive last start win after a six-week break but jockey Joao Moreira said the rejigged preparation also has Seasons Bloom in top shape for his major goal three weeks later.
“He is flying,” Moreira said without hesitation when asked how the horse had felt in recent gallops. “I have ridden the horse twice since that last win – I can tell you he has improved.
“He is going as well as we want him to be and we think he can deliver his best on race day. In that last win he beat the best milers in Hong Kong, so I like his chances in a race the locals usually do well in.”
Moreira also believes Seasons Bloom’s best is yet to come and even though the horse’s preparation might look unconventional, the leading rider says Shum has clearly done the best thing for the horse.
“It was the best preparation for him. He needs to be kept as fresh as possible and I feel he is about to reach his peak,” he said.
“There was some improvement to come out of that last run and it looks like he has taken the step we wanted. What we are going to see from him in this race, and over the next four months, I think is going to be his best.”