Imports look the part for revitalised Cruz

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 January, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 01 January, 2001, 12:00am

Four winners from the last two meetings means that the Derek Cruz stable turns into the New Year as one of the most in-form yards in town.

This is in stark contrast to the first three months of the season when the operation seemed becalmed in the doldrums. It has since emerged there were good reasons for that with the horses scattered hither and thither. Cruz lobbied hard for a piece of the Sha Tin real estate big enough to house all of his burgeoning team and for the last three weeks he has had all 52 under one roof. 'In particular you can see they are eating better,' he said.

Yesterday he had a number of his first-season imports out and about in what was generally a very quiet morning, as it so often is on a Sunday. French ace Eric Legrix, who comes in for a good proportion of the stable's rides along with top Australian jockey Steven King, was on hand to put a couple of the more interesting ones through almost identical 800-metre pieces.

Legrix rode the good-looking Huang Pu Jiang, who has already shown up well in his trials, and the imposing Chiu Chow Brother, who hasn't been out of quarantine and in the trackwork limelight for too long.

Huang Pu Jiang came though his last 400 in a bright 24.8 seconds and is definitely one on which to keep tabs. He's by the leading stallion Irish River, the French 2,000 Guineas winner before retiring to stud, and out of the unraced Caerleon mare, Elway Season, whose one foal to race to date has won over the best part of 2,000 metres in Japan. Generally there is plenty of stamina through the bottom half of Huang Pu Jiang's pedigree and the youngster is not showing signs of the kind of temperament which can blight the occasional son of Irish River.

Huang Pu Jiang looks worth following. It's probably a bit too early to assess Chiu Chow Brother in such a confident manner. But on looks alone he'd have to be right in there. A big, strong sort, he imposes himself in the mornings and has been moving as well as could be reasonably expected.

In other work, Cruz's Good Fit came through a very light 1,200 metres but doesn't really need to do much more than this as he's a lightly-framed sort and has also not been the easiest to train. The way he's looking right now indicates he's going to be a threat when next seen out.