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Cape Jock Hits Hong Kong High

Grant van Niekerk's first HK Gr2 success - and a double

Trainer Danny Shum is counting down the days to the Gr1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint on 8 December after Seasons Bloom swooped under Grant van Niekerk to snare a thrilling victory in the Gr2 Premier Bowl Handicap at Sha Tin on Sunday.

Shum could have two strong candidates for the HK$20 million showcase seven weeks from now, with the stable’s rising star Regency Legend being pointed that way too.

“I didn’t run Regency Legend in this race today because I’ll run him in the (Gr2) Jockey Club Sprint on 17 November. Seasons Bloom won’t run in that race, I’ll keep him fresh and hopefully both will meet in the Hong Kong Sprint in December,” the handler said.

Grant van Niekerk steers Seasons Bloom to victory n the feature at Sha Tin on Sunday (Pic – Hong Kong Jockey Club)

Seasons Bloom had closed nicely for second place behind Regency Legend in a 1200m Class 1 on 1 September, after which Shum stuck to a ‘patience first’ agenda and gave his classy charge seven weeks to arrive at today’s test in prime condition. This was his first success since a career peak win in the January 2018 G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m).

“I’ve kept him fresh, that’s important for this horse,” Shum said. “We had a detailed plan with the owner. We know we can’t beat Beauty Generation over 1600 metres, he’s a super champion, so we planned to run him in the HKSAR Chief Executive’s Cup over 1200 (metres) on the first day of the season and he ran a good race, so we aimed him at this.”

The handler also acknowledged the importance of the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s facility at Conghua, where Seasons Bloom has been based since December last year.

“Conghua has helped him a lot,” he said. “It’s all about keeping this horse fresh and keeping him happy – the environment there is good for him, he loves it and my team there has done a great job with him.”

Rattan (132lb) made the running in the first Gr2 race of the Hong Kong season as the 2.3 favourite Full Of Beauty (120lb) settled fourth, just ahead of Pakistan Star (131lb) and Wishful Thinker (127lb). Seasons Bloom parked on the rail with Ivictory (133lb) on his left flank and only fresh air behind.

Van Niekerk shifted Seasons Bloom to mid track upon straightening for the wire but was still last with 250m to race as Full Of Beauty wrestled to get ahead of the longtime leader. No sooner had Joao Moreira’s mount edged to the fore than Seasons Bloom hit full stride and whistled by to land a short-head verdict in 1m 08.83s, clocking the all-time second fastest closing 400m over the distance with a split of 21.14s.

Triumphant Grant van Niekerk celebrates at Sha Tin on Sunday (Pic – Hong Kong Jockey Club)

“I just played the patient game and it paid off,” Van Niekerk said. “Coming around the turn I didn’t think I had any sort of chance because of the pace and I was stuck on the rail and I couldn’t pull out and go early but then my horse showed a great turn-of-foot that last 100 metres.”

The win was Van Niekerk’s first Gr2 score in Hong Kong, his only other Pattern race success being aboard Flying Thunder in last season’s G3 Premier Cup Handicap.

“It’s very nice to win a race like this, I always knew I had a chance coming to the race and this is a big moment. Hopefully I can just keep going now,” he said before going on to seal a double with the Ricky Yiu-trained Emerald Spur in the Class 4 H. Moser & Cie. Excellent Handicap (1400m).

John Size, meanwhile, was seeking a third consecutive win in the Premier Bowl after Mr Stunning (2017) and Hot King Prawn (2018), but the champion trainer had to settle for second with the Moreira-ridden Full Of Beauty, the market top pick off the back of his last start win in the G3 National Day Cup Handicap (1000m).

“He had a dream run, unfortunately he just got beaten,” Moreira said. “There is a bit of frustration from not winning the race but we have to be very pleased with what he’s done in the recent past, including today. He’s run very well, he’s always up there in the top four – today he’s second and it was definitely a good run.”

  • Hong Kong Jockey Club

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10 comments on “Cape Jock Hits Hong Kong High

  1. Michael Jackson says:

    Well done Grant! How are our other boys doing? Has Lyle won a race yet in Hong Kong?

    1. Editor says:

      Jockeys’ Ranking
      Win 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Total Rides Stakes Won

      J Moreira 24 13 14 7 8 100 $24,494,948
      Z Purton 18 18 12 7 16 97 $21,898,103
      K Teetan 14 6 8 14 8 94 $14,413,368
      G van Niekerk 5 8 6 5 6 55 $7,475,485
      C Y Ho 5 8 9 6 5 58 $7,553,090
      C Schofield 5 5 4 8 6 65 $5,869,688
      A Domeyer 4 4 6 2 6 39 $4,887,525
      M Chadwick 4 4 4 5 1 51 $6,227,645
      M L Yeung 4 3 3 2 5 46 $4,148,540
      M F Poon 4 1 4 6 7 57 $4,567,290
      K C Leung 3 4 3 6 7 59 $4,593,055
      A Sanna 3 3 3 3 5 44 $4,009,595
      K H Chan 3 2 7 5 5 47 $3,953,765
      B Shinn 2 7 6 3 5 54 $4,395,480
      H T Mo 2 6 4 1 1 53 $3,565,485
      N Callan 2 6 1 9 3 48 $3,699,180
      H N Wong 1 2 0 2 3 48 $1,414,370
      R Bayliss 1 1 3 0 2 36 $1,249,250
      U Rispoli 0 2 4 2 1 39 $1,267,890
      T H So 0 1 2 1 2 57 $755,220
      L Hewitson 0 1 1 4 3 51 $821,16

  2. Sergen govender says:

    No Arm chair rides for Hewiston.

  3. gavin says:

    hewitson was and always be over rated … well said segren …

    1. karel says:

      South African champion jockey overrated?
      What does that say about the other ones?

  4. Paul says:

    Ag Karel, everyone is entitled to a view however ill-informed. Personally I tend to discount comment where the author cannot even get basics right. Like correct surnames (Hewiston) or first names (Segren).

  5. Andrew says:

    Yes I agree Hewitson is overrated .I just wondering if South African jockeys are below par because a champion jockey Hewitson did’nt have a single winner to date in Hong Kong & jockey Callan Murray
    return home because he didn’t make it in
    Singapore . Locally he can’t even win with
    an odds on favourite .

  6. Michael Jackson says:

    Gavin and Segren, with all due respect, maybe Hewitson is not over-rated but rather this move was premature . He is very young and should have spent a few more years in SA before trying his hand overseas. Also with Moreira and Purton dominating Hong Kong he was always going to struggle, so this is just the wrong move for him right now. Just my opinion.

  7. Rian says:

    True Champions bring home horses at any price, he had it easy riding in SA, and its not first time posting on his riding but it wont be long and he will be back , MAYBE this post will be published as my one on Anton didnt make it

  8. Nico says:

    In Hong Kong, you cannot sit and wait to unleash your horse and expect to win even if it’s the best horse, you crack on the moment you leave the gate, find a good position, steal a fraction or two and crack on again, i’m no jockey but that’s probably one of the hardest places to ride and even harder with stewards extremely hard on jockeys, it seperates an average jockey and the world class ones.

    Lyle is still a very young jockey and has a lot still to learn. Is he a world class jockey now? No i dont think so. His a very fortunate young man who was given a great job by Sean Tarry.

    He had the champion trainer behind him, sitting on the best horses in the country and that’s huge, not saying his no good, but he will be world class one day, with time

    From the way it seems, Hong Kong humbled Callan Murray and his back, probably better than he was before he left.

    I’m sure Hong Kong will teach Lyle a lot and i’m sure it will make him a better jockey with time.

    Let’s not be upset if someone expresses an opinion saying his average or overrated, the critics will talk, he should prove himself in the saddle.

    P.s Aldo and Grant are proving to be world class, the reason is probably because of their experience and the application. You cannot buy experience, it takes time. Great moves by those two and nice to see their success.

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