Wind Winner sparks early Derby talk

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 October, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 October, 2004, 12:00am

Lightly raced Wind Winner may have been mentioned in the same breath as the Hong Kong Derby after he won yesterday at Sha Tin but trainer Tony Cruz was quick to qualify.

'He's a four-year-old so naturally you have the Derby in the back of your mind with any horse of that age that might have some promise,' said the reigning Derby-winning trainer of Lucky Owners. 'But we'll take him race by race and see whether he can earn his way there.'

Cruz swept all before him last season as the major big-race trainer and gave the impression he had hopes there might be a decent victory in Wind Winner after the nicely made horse scraped home for his second win in four starts.

'He's building up a nice record and I'm sure he'll run further. In fact, I want to take him to 1,800 metres next start,' Cruz said.

'First up, I didn't think he had the best of luck but he had improved a lot after that race and I was very happy with him today.'

In contrast to his run behind Seasons Treasure first time out this season, Wind Winner was getting plenty of room yesterday while one of his main rivals, Dashing Thunder (Douglas Whyte), was held up behind horses and eventually finished second.

'My main concern today was to give the horse clear running,' said winning jockey Felix Coetzee.

'I was stopped on my first run on him last time and it cost him. He's a nice sort of a horse and gives you the impression he'll progress but he still doesn't know much about it.

'When he got to the front today he was not sure what to do but he's had very little racing and he's on the learning curve.'

The other well-backed favourite in yesterday's race, the Derek Cruz-trained Green Treasure, was struggling a long way out and finished a distant last but the horse was later found to have suffered from an irregular heart rhythm during the race.