Happy Guy leaves Cruz in doldrums
CHAMPION jockey elect Tony Cruz was not a so jovial after his exertions aboard Happy Guy on Hongkong Derby Day.
He partnered the Brian Kan Ping-chee Classic Trial winner of that name in the Blue Riband event but was not enthusiastic about the manner in which the race panned out - particularly in relation to stablemate, Right Way.
Not to labour the point too much, but it was not the ''right way'' to do it as far as Tony was concerned and there were no plaudits for South African Felix Coetzee from the local idol.
''The Derby was messed up for me. Right Way was meant to be out in front and setting a good pace and he certainly didn't do that. The pace was muddling and my fellow wasn't happy with it,'' he said.
Right Way made a winning name for himself earlier this season with some bold front-running displays, but his last two runs have not seen him emulate those feats.
Happy Guy, the 4-1 favourite, eventually finished sixth.
IT certainly wasn't much of a Derby Day for Declan Murphy either. He was banned for four days on the King Prawn careless riding charge and missed the winning ride on Dashing in yesterday's final event.
The messy Murphy inquiry may not be over yet as the Irish-American jockey will almost certainly appeal.
Having blundered in the first instance by re-opening the inquiry when Gerald Mosse was not present, the stipes proceeded to charge Murphy without evidence from Mosse.
That evidence was finally given before racing yesterday and Murphy received a ban that leaves us shaking our heads.
THE absence of Murphy paved the way for Lester Piggott's third Hongkong winner when Dashing obliged in the final event yesterday.
And it was certainly a case of trainer Geoff Lane happy to repay a favour - after about 33 years.
Lane, a consummate practitioner of the riding art in earlier days, rode in England in the early 1960s. And helping him out with a ride or two was Keith Piggott, father of the maestro.
''It's been a long time but I'm very happy,'' said Lane.
And judging from the contented nod from Lester, there were no complaints from that quarter.
THE Sha Tin track was in marvellous shape for the Derby, thanks to the sterling efforts of Clerk of the Course, John Jeffs.
We were back racing on the main A Track which always makes a tremendous difference. But the grass and the track were generally in first-rate shape - as jockeys duly testified.
Jeffs has been at work for weeks to get it in good shape and he now has one other major date.
''I will have it as good as hands can make it for the International Races,'' he promised. We don't doubt it for a second.
FINALLY, commiserations to all connected with Deerfield. The Classic lost some of its allure when the American-bred star came out on Friday.