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Tony Cruz eyes BMW Hong Kong Derby with Fallon as Hewitson slots three-timer

December 27, 2023 at 4:24:03 AM

The HK$26 million BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) on 24 March shapes a potential target for Fallon after Tony Cruz’s young stayer showcased Four-Year-Old Classic Series potential with a spectacular win in the Class 4 Tin Wan Handicap (1600m) at Sha Tin on Tuesday (26 December).

The HK$26 million BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) on 24 March shapes a potential target for Fallon after Tony Cruz’s young stayer showcased Four-Year-Old Classic Series potential with a spectacular win in the Class 4 Tin Wan Handicap (1600m) at Sha Tin on Tuesday (26 December).

Carrying 135lb, the Galileo Gold three-year-old surged from the tail of the field at the 400m in 22.84s for Keith Yeung after starting from barrier 14 in a performance which left Cruz pondering a Classic tilt.

The winner of his only start in 2022 in Ireland for Michael O’Callaghan when known as Rothko, Fallon has taken time to adjust to his new surroundings but Cruz believes the gelding could measure up as a BMW Hong Kong Derby contender.

“He was a very young horse coming here, he had only one start in Ireland and won, but he was a very immature horse, he was only a two-year-old when he came to Hong Kong, so I gave him plenty of time just so he could mature,” Cruz said.

“I didn’t want to race him against older horses but this season, (but) with plenty of education with trials, he started to mature and he’s just got better and better.

“I told Keith to ride him very quiet because he’s got no early speed – nothing at all – but the last quarter he’s going to finish strong and that’s what he did.”

Asked if the BMW Hong Kong Derby was an option, Cruz said: “I’m going that way – the 1600 metre race on the 12th of February and then after that another two races – an 1800m and a 2000m – before the Derby.”

Cruz has previously tasted Derby success with Lucky Owners in 2004 and Helene Mascot in 2008.

Vaulting into second place on the Hong Kong trainers’ championship with a double to have 24 wins for the season to trail only Pierre Ng (39), Francis Lui outlined Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) hopes for Chancheng Glory, who gave Lyle Hewitson the final leg of a treble with success in the Class 3 Pak Tin Handicap (1600m).

“He hit the line well and the target is the Classic Mile,” Lui said. “In between now and then he could have one more race. I think he can handle further distance in the future, but at the moment I’ll keep him to a mile.”

Hewitson, who also scored with Northern Beaches and Fun Elite, said: “They were horses coming into form, they needed the right ride and a bit of luck in the run, which they all seemed to get.

“It’s been a fantastic day and it’s nice to get this sort of support, for which I am very grateful, and Chancheng Glory was a little bit of an extra special win. Honestly, he’s an improving horse and going for four on the bounce and we had to do it a bit differently today and go to Plan B when I saw everybody putting on pressure. It makes it a little bit more rewarding when that pays off.”

Super Goldi, victorious in the Class 4 Shui Pin Wai Handicap (1200m) under Derek Leung, gave 2021/22 Hong Kong Champion Trainer Frankie his first success with a Hong Kong International Sale graduate on a day when inexperienced gallopers featured.

A HK$4.6 million purchase at the 2023 Hong Kong International Sale, Super Goldi is by Tavistock out of Pivotal mare Steer By The Stars.

“This is my first ISG horse, so it’s great to win the race. He can go further in distance, but I don’t think we’ll be looking at the Derby at this moment. It was only a Class 4 today and we’ll see how he improves,” Lor said.

Joining Super Goldi as a first-start victor was Benno Yung’s Fun Elite, who scored in the Class 4 Po Shek Wu Handicap (1000m). Hewitson then continued his strong season with success on Northern Beaches in the Class 3 Hoi Lai Handicap (1000m).

Trained by Chris So, Northern Beaches earned a PP Bonus of HK$1.5 million in the process.

At the other end of the age spectrum, eight-year-old Xponential (118lb) showed his versatility with success in the Class 2 Choi Hung Handicap (1200m, dirt).

“I’ve always said if I could have a dozen of him in my yard, I’d be ok. He never knows how to run a bad race. He’s so consistent, whether it be the dirt, Happy Valley, Sha Tin turf – he always seems to present himself and give him best,” trainer Douglas Whyte said.

“An eight-year-old (winner) in Class 2, you don’t often see that. He’s got a lot of youth on his side. He’s as sound as ever. He’s just enjoying life. He just accepts everything I ask of him. It doesn’t matter the surface, he seems to handle it.”

Teetan, who has 33 wins for the campaign after a double, said: “It was a very tough win. Dougie said ‘Let’s make use of the light weight from the nice gate’ and today the instruction was to try to get to the front,” Teetan said. “I just couldn’t get to the front, so I had to come back and he settled and once I pressed him, he went again. It was a really good win.

“Some horses in that situation would give up because it’s too much work, but this just shows how tough he is. He’s got a big heart and he’s always trying.”

Teetan also featured on Raging Blizzard, who won the Nam Sham Handicap (1200m) for John Size.

Luke Ferraris maintained his perfect record aboard Diamond Flare with an effortless win the Class 4 Tin Sau Handicap (1200m) for Mark Newnham. Ferraris has twice partnered Diamond Flare since the Deep Field gelding was imported to Hong Kong for two wins.

The five-year-old was last season trained by Ricky Yiu but transferred to Newnham – who originally trained the grey to victory at Wyong in Australia in 2022.

Purton leads the jockeys’ championship with 47 wins after the victory of Francis Lui-trained Noble One in the Class 5 Yue Wan Handicap (1400m),

Manfred Man and James McDonald combined with Miracles to win the Class 5 Wu King Handicap (1200m, dirt). By Better Than Ready, Miracles had tallied five minor placings in 18 previous winless outings, but was given a perfect ride today before surging to a three-and-a-half length margin.

Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Friday night (29 December)

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