Cruz chips in with minors

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 March, 2006, 12:00am

For the past two years, Tony Cruz has been the one receiving the trainer's trophy at the Chairman's Sprint Prize presentation. But yesterday, the 'little fish are sweet' approach kept the smile on the face of the reigning champion trainer.

Cruz looked remarkably fresh for a man who saddled up two runners in the Dubai Duty Free at 12.30am yesterday (HK time), then flown overnight to be at the Derby meeting to welcome winners in two minor races.

The first of them, Electronics Spur, was a tactical triumph for Cruz (pictured) and jockey Felix Coetzee, who had grown tired at the four-year-old's growing arsenal of bad luck stories.

'He kept drawing wide and we've been going back on him, but he's often found trouble and has taken time to wind up,' Cruz said.

'But today, we had a good barrier for a change so I asked Felix to go forward on him. He's a good, strong, one-paced kind of horse and being in front has suited him. He doesn't really quicken up but he keeps going.'

Although he would never say so, Coetzee must have found some personal satisfaction at being returned as Electronics Spur's rider after being overlooked by the owners in favour of Christophe Soumillon last start.

'Once he worked through and took the lead, he settled quite nicely for me and started to travel with some confidence,' Coetzee said. 'Ridden that way, he's had a bit more of a kick at the end and it was quite a good win.'

Cruz and Coetzee both like the character of Danehill gelding Lucky Diamond, who has now put two wins together since being stepped up to 1,600 metres, and even the rise to Class Three failed to dull his progress.

'He's a lovely horse and what I like about him is that he's a fighter,' Cruz said.

'In his earlier races, they were just going a bit too quick for him but now that he's racing at a mile, he's been right in his element.'

The only negative for the afternoon was the stable wipeout with their three runners in the Hong Kong Derby.

'Willie Detroy knuckled at the start but I'm not entirely sure how he's pulled up. We'll inspect him in the morning and we'll know more then,' Cruz said.

'I think 2,000 metres under today's conditions may have proved a bit too far for Happee Owner. And with Very Fit, I think it was wetter than he was comfortable with - I thought he'd lead but he really couldn't get going at all.'