Joao Moreira believes Seasons Bloom can deliver in Sunday's Stewards' Cup.
©Hong Kong Jockey Club
By David Morgan
Joao Moreira is placing his faith in a pair of Group 1 novices in Sunday’s (28 January) feature races at Sha Tin Racecourse, as he seeks a first top-flight win this term.
The Brazilian ace, fresh from last Sunday’s Hong Kong Classic Mile score on Nothingilikemore, looks to Beat The Clock in the G1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m) and Seasons Bloom in the G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m). The former is untested above G3 grade, while the latter’s first effort in the highest tier came in December when a fine fourth in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile.
Seasons Bloom, in fact, has given Moreira his only Pattern race win this term, a dashing victory in the G2 Jockey Club Mile back in November.
“It’s a tough race but he’s one of those making it tough,” the champion jockey said of trainer Danny Shum’s charge.
Moreira retains belief that the Captain Sonador gelding has the ability to reverse form with the three horses that finished ahead of him in last month’s showcase international mile, Beauty Generation, Western Express and Helene Paragon.
“I still think he can take that step,” Moreira said. “He’s a straightforward type of a horse. He’s been given opportunities and he’s actually never let us down so I’m happy to see him given his chance again in a race like the Stewards’ Cup.”
This morning (Thursday, 25 January), Moreira rode Seasons Bloom in a piece of work along the turf track’s back stretch. The Australian import galloped in company with Centenary Sprint Cup-bound Lucky Year and clocked 53.5s (29.2s, 24.3s) for 800m.
“Seasons Bloom galloped very well, I’m extremely happy with him,” the rider said. “It was normal work, not too hard and not too slow. He’s proven to be a horse that likes to be fresh, so we try not to overdo him. He’s done it very easily, he’s pulled up clean in his wind and I couldn’t be going into the race any happier with the horse.”
Moreira is also pleased with Beat The Clock. John Size’s charge heads into the weekend as the lowest rated horse in the Centenary Sprint Cup, his mark of 110 being fully 20lb inferior to his stablemate Mr Stunning, Hong Kong’s highest rated galloper.
“I think he has improvement in him still,” Moreira said of the four-year-old, who has ascended the grades with five wins from 11 starts.
The Hinchinbrook gelding produced a career peak last time out when second to Stewards’ Cup contender Fifty Fifty in the G3 Chinese Club Challenge Cup Handicap. With 115lb on his back on that occasion, Beat The Clock was in receipt of 18lb from a two-time G1 winner in third-placed Helene Paragon, but Moreira believes that race distance of 1400m was not ideal for his mount.
“His run the other day against Fifty Fifty was really good,” he said. “He’s certainly an up-and-coming horse and he’s against the best sprinters in Hong Kong but it won’t surprise me if he’s there challenging those big boys on Sunday.
“Last time, the last 50 metres of the 1400 he ran a bit flat. I think the 1200 metres will suit him - like candy for kids!”