Cruz magic is Deauville's key to success

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 March, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 March, 1997, 12:00am

Deauville is almost the forgotten horse in Saturday's Gold Cup, but the way he looked when working on the grass yesterday morning he's certainly worth remembering come the 2,000-metre spectacular.

Rarely has a domestic race in the territory attracted such a high-class field.

With the Derby winner Oriental Express clashing with top stayers and stablemates Privilege and Citiluck, the brilliant Benji and the Derby third and subsequent ATV Cup winner, Indigenous, all expected to make the lineup, racefans are in for one hell of a treat. Any three of the six could run into the tierce though on form to date, the top three chances would be Privilege, Benji and Oriental Express and maybe then Deauville and Citiluck, followed by Indigenous. However, Tony Cruz has started to work his magic on Deauville who now looks to be yet another example of a horse joining him and changing in appearance in front of our very eyes. All Cruz's horses develop a deep-girthed, powerful look. It is tempting to say they verge towards being big, even gross.

But none lacks fitness and yesterday a good look at Deauville, as he swung through 1,200 metres on the grass track in one minute, indicated that he has put on a considerable amount of condition in the last month under Cruz's care. Deauville may not be as talented as some of his Gold Cup rivals, but he does appear ready to run right up to the best of his ability. Champion trainer Ivan Allan has refused to push Oriental Express, preferring to keep him on the fresh side - as he did prior to his Derby triumph. Yesterday the Blue Riband hero came through a typical Allan 800-metre hitout in a more-or-less even 49.6 seconds.

Oriental Express looked on very good terms with himself but make no mistake, he will have to produce a higher level of performance than he did in the Derby if he is to win the Gold Cup. He has the natural improvement within him to do just that but the others are going to keep him honest at this 2,000-metre trip. There was also good work from Derek Cruz's New Tone, who is looking for a return to Sha Tin, and the Geoff Lane-trained Kaapargen, who is holding his form well. Chris Cheung's Bounty Guard continues to improve, the Bruce Hutchison-trained Word From Rome has never gone better and King Of Jewelry is another who seems to have thrived since joining Tony Cruz.

TRIAL RESULTS First trial _ 1,050 metres: 1, PARKVIEW FAME (P. W. Kong); 2, Danetop (P. Payne); 3, Toy General (P. Robinson). Others (in finishing order): Good Fortune, Deuce Of Hearts, Goodwill, Ascot Hero. Time: 1.03.9 (24.6). Distances: 61/2 len, 4 lengths. Winner trained by Peter Tse Yan-sid.

Second trial _ 1,050 metres: 1, WOODSIDE PARK (M. C. Poon); 2, Baby Wave Supreme (C. K. Tsang); 3, Handsome Billy (D. Oliver). Others: Race To Honour, Medic Pearl, Super Connections, Winning Supreme. Time: 1.05.3 (24.6). Distances: 1 len, 21/2 len. Winner trained by David Hill.