Very little in the HK$10 million Stewards’ Cup was as it should have been soon after the start but everything fell the way of Seasons Bloom and he snared the big-race win he has been threatening.
Champion jockey Joao Moreira turned on a show for his brother Jair, visiting from Brazil, winning four on the day including the last three races, with the Stewards’ Cup the neon highlight.
“My brother goes home tonight but I’m so happy to have a day like this while he is here,” Moreira said.
“It was such a boost for me to have him here and he went to the presentation with me, I passed him the trophy and I could see he was emotional. He is one who likes to hide his emotions but I can see it, and I’m so pleased and proud he can come from the other side of the world and be on the stage with me for something so special.”
The last start beaten favourite in the Hong Kong Mile, when he scoped with an internal bleeding problem post-race, Seasons Bloom gave Danny Shum Chap-shing his first Group One since Little Bridge at Royal Ascot and may have been a worthy winner in any circumstances but the race was tipped upside down when the gates opened.
All maps were shredded when the expected leader, Time Warp (Zac Purton), reared and was nearer last than first and no longer a pace factor in a contest that then devolved into the same stop-start kind of affair we’ve seen all season in the big mile races.
“He was in a real mood before the race, he was different to international day,” said Purton. “What can you say? We’re dealing with animals. Hopefully, the run has knocked the edge off him for next time.”
While seven weeks between runs might not have suited Time Warp, it was perfect for Seasons Bloom.
“He always has blood in his throat after he races, it’s just whether he has a tiny bit or a lot and he was a four on international day,” Shum said. “So, I give him a break, trial him and he races his best when he is this fresh. He is always quite light in condition, which is normally not good for a miler, so he has to be fresh.”
Which gives Shum and the horse’s connections some decisions to make with targets going forward.
“With his rating, of course, there are not many races to run in but we have to look at the programme and see how we can get the best out of him,” Shum said. “He could run in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup over 1,400m or the Gold Cup over 2,000m. They’re on the same day a month from now but I have to talk to the owners and to Joao and see which one.”
Moreira has stuck with Seasons Bloom all season and will stick wherever he goes next and is not averse to the Gold Cup.
“I would sign off on whatever Danny wants to do. I think his form shows he is best as a miler but he did run fourth in the Derby last year which was a very good run over 2,000m,” he said.
Time Warp aside, the John Moore-trained Helene Paragon (Tommy Berry) disappointed after getting into a striking position at the 200m.
“Tommy said he got a nice run, the horse sprinted strongly and came to be in the finish then didn’t sustain his run,” Moore said. “He was very disappointing in the final stages so it’s back to the drawing board. And Beauty Generation didn’t get the type of race pattern he likes.”
But it wasn’t all doom and gloom, and Moore allowed himself a little verbal click of the heels about Werther finishing third from a wide barrier after being reunited with Hugh Bowman.
“Hugh said if he’d drawn a gate he might even have won it,” Moore said. “Then we’d have been looking at a potential Triple Crown because we know how much better suited he will be in the Gold Cup and the Champions & Chater. I’m really looking forward to the Gold Cup next month.”