Cruz delivers for patient owners
Time heals all wounds might well be the motto at the Derek Cruz stable these days, with the owners who stuck solidly with the trainer now seeing the benefits of that patience.
Cruz kept up his strike rate for the current term with a double yesterday, scoring in combination with Felix Coetzee as two promising stars in Miraculous and Joy And Fun landed their second wins. The pair also kept alive a brilliant winning partnership between trainer and jockey, with Coetzee's statistics for the yard reading nine rides for six wins.
Punters were right on top of it all, though, backing both horses like their wins were formalities and the horses obliged. Miraculous is now looking well named indeed as, after looking a Class Five struggler for the past two years, he has settled down mentally and strolled home with his past two in the style of a horse who will have no trouble winning again despite going up a grade next time.
'He just took a very long time to acclimatise to Hong Kong,' Cruz said. 'He used to sweat and get upset. I rode him one morning on the track and he just took off with me.
'He's a big, strong horse and there's nothing I could do about it but that's all past now. I'm thrilled that he's come good because the owner has been very patient.
'Last season, a lot of owners moved their horses to other trainers and, for all the success that he'd had, the owner of Miraculous was very good to stay. Every owner thinks his horse should be doing better than he is and many would have moved this horse, but it was just time and patience that were needed.'
Miraculous is going higher but it is Joy And Fun that puts the real gleam in Cruz's eye when he talks about him.
'It's about time I had a really nice young horse again and this is the one,' he said after Coetzee brought the three-year-old with a powerful burst to swamp Viking Tor in the last race.
'These guys have been lovely owners of mine for a long time too so I'm very happy.'
Coetzee was in full agreement about Joy And Fun, describing the youngster as 'a complete professional' despite his lack of experience.
'Very smooth, very relaxed, whether it's at trackwork or in a race he just feels like he knows what he's doing,' said Coetzee, who reduced to make the correct weight of 113 pounds yesterday.
'I knew he was worth it! Derek said just to ride him with confidence and Joy And Fun gives you that confidence - today, as soon as he realised I wanted to look for cover on him, you'd swear he went looking for cover himself.'