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Cruz upbeat over California Spangle and Beauty Joy’s G1 Stewards’ Cup hopes

January 19, 2024 at 3:38:50 AM

Tony Cruz believes a gear change and a more favourable weight scenario could pave the way for California Spangle’s form resurgence when the gelding contests the HK$13 million G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (21 January).

Tony Cruz believes a gear change and a more favourable weight scenario could pave the way for California Spangle’s form resurgence when the gelding contests the HK$13 million G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (21 January).

Cruz has decided to add cheek pieces to California Spangle after the bay’s recent indifferent form and, with Hugh Bowman aboard from barrier two, the dual Hong Kong champion trainer is optimistic his stable flagbearer is primed to fire.

“He’s well. I’ve put the cheek pieces on him and otherwise he looks in great condition,” Cruz said of the 11-time winner, whose best victory so far came over Golden Sixty in the 2022 G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) at Sha Tin.

Cruz believes California Spangle’s last run when seventh behind Taj Dragon in the G3 Chinese Club Challenge Cup Handicap (1400m) on 1 January can be overlooked.

“He got knocked down the last race and it was game over,” Cruz said. “I expect him to run well – much better – this time because of the weights.”

California Spangle carried 135lb when finishing four and a half lengths behind Taj Dragon but drops to 126lb on Sunday and meets his seven rivals on equal terms.

Cruz will also be represented by Beauty Joy, who chases his first Group 1 triumph, having twice won at Group 3 level.

“Beauty Joy, at set weights, he’s going to come late. I hope he catches them but he’s going to run well,” Cruz said.

Beauty Joy impressed last season at the highest level when runner-up to Golden Sixty in the G1 FWD Champions Mile (1600m) and caught the eye last start with a strong-finishing third behind Taj Dragon.

With the exception of Golden Sixty, who bypasses the weekend feature after suffering a minor leg issue, Cruz’s pair will face a cluster of elite Hong Kong gallopers headed by Voyage Bubble (126lb), Straight Arron (126lb), Russian Emperor (126lb), Beauty Eternal (126lb), Healthy Happy (126lb) and Fantastic Treasure (126lb).

The first leg of Hong Kong’s Triple Crown, the Stewards’ Cup will be followed by the HK$13 million G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) on 25 February and HK$13 million G1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m) on 26 May.

Sha Tin’s 10-race card starts at 1pm on Sunday (21 January) with the Class 5 Beacon Hill Handicap (1200m).

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