Joao Moreira and Seasons Bloom triumph in the Gr.1 Stewards’ Cup at Sha Tin (HKJC)
The success of Australian horses racing in Hong Kong was again front and centre at Sha Tin on Sunday with Seasons Bloom notching up a highly impressive victory in the Group One Stewards’ Cup over 1600m.
The Stewards’ Cup has been won previously by Aussies such as Able Friend (2015) and Fairy King Prawn (2001), both of whom went on to capture Horse of the Year honours, while Australian-breds have won 23 of 46 Stewards’ Cup renewals.
This was the first Group One victory for Seasons Bloom, however, with the Danny Shum trained 5YO’s previous best a win in November’s Group Two HKJC BOCHK Wealth Management Jockey Club Mile, followed by a fourth in the Group One Longines Hong Kong Mile on 10 December.
Having raced initially in Australia – for Peter Moody when fifth of 15 and then with Brendan McCarthy for his maiden victory at Pakenham – Seasons Bloom has now raced 14 times in Hong Kong for six wins, three placings and over A$3 million in prizemoney.
Not bad for a horse that cost just $26,000 as a weanling!
Bred by the Nolan family’s Raheen Stud in Queensland, Seasons Bloom is one of three stakes winners for the late Captain Sonador: an Epsom Handicap winning son of Shamardal, while our Hong Kong hero is out of Pyramisa’s Lass, a half sister to South African Group Two winner, Sharks Bay and from a sister to Group Two QTC Cup winner, Pembleton.
Raheen Stud offered Seasons Bloom at the 2013 Gold Coast Magic Millions National Weanling Sale where he was snapped by renowned Victorian pinhooker, Ampulla Lodge.
However, it soon became apparent to Ampulla’s Steve Jostlear that Seasons Bloom wasn’t about to ‘bloom’ any time soon.
“He (Seasons Bloom) had a magnificent walk on him, with a great hindquarter and a fair bit of length, but he was also small and fairly immature,” Jostlear recalls.
“So, we decided it was best not to put him through a yearling sale and race him ourselves … he certainly showed plenty of speed around the paddock with the other colts. He could be 10 metres behind them and, in the blink of any eye, be 10 metres in front.”
Jostlear points out that despite his obvious speed, stable life wasn’t to Seasons Bloom’s liking and he refused to eat – either at Moodys or McCarthys.
“Once he was back in the country though he thrived … we tried everything when he was boxed – putting him with mates, ponies, changed his feed – but nothing seemed to work,” Jostlear explains. “Eventually my wife, Ceri, suggested we open a window and guess what … it worked. Turns out he was claustrophobic!”
Following the Pakenham Maiden victory, the Jostlears were offered big money to sell the horse into Hong Kong and the rest, as they say, is history.
“He dropped off his feed in Hong Kong and about a month later I got a call from the stable, saying he wasn’t eating. I just told them to give him a room with a view. Must be a pretty good view because he keeps on winning.”
Purchasing around 10 to 12 youngsters annually for the past decade, Seasons Bloom is one of seven horses that Ampulla Lodge has sold to Hong Kong, for seven winners.
A Blooming good result all round!
HOOFNOTE: It was another tremendous weekend for Australian-breds on the global stage with stakes success in South Africa, New Zealand and Hong Kong.
Myboycharlie 4YO, Charles Road got the ball rolling across the Tasman with a victory in the Group Three City of Auckland Cup – his second Group victory – while the highly promising youngster, Avantage proved far too strong in the NZ$1 million Karaka 2YO Million.
Meanwhile, on the star studded Kenilworth program in South Africa on Saturday night, it was another stakes double for Australian-breds via Listed Summer Juvenile Stakes winner, Traces, and Group One Sun Met glory hunter, Oh Susanna (see News for our separate article on Oh Susanna).