Survey Survey justifies his mentor's faith
Tony Cruz has declared the Derby dream alive for impressive private purchase Survey Survey, who overcame severe difficulties in the final event to earn a shot at group one glory in three weeks' time.
It was crunch time yesterday for Survey Survey, with the former British racer needing to win to justify the confidence of Cruz and ensure his place in the field for the opening leg of the four-year-old grand slam, the Classic Mile on January 28.
Not only did he win, but Survey Survey did so with a bit panache and left first-time jockey Brett Prebble with a powerful impression after unleashing a dazzling turn of foot that turned defeat into victory in the dying strides of the race.
It had not been straightforward, however, as Survey Survey turned for home well back and safely pocketed, and the only glimmer of a potential opening was on the inside of Manoel Nunes' mount, Sirocco.
'I had to wait... if I had come out I would have knocked something down so I just sat there,' Prebble said.
'Because of that, I think it was an outstanding win and a better win than his previous one. I asked him to squeeze through a gap, and he did, and I asked him to sprint when he wasn't quite balanced and under 130 pounds, that isn't easy, but he did.'
Prebble said he was particularly impressed because Survey Survey showed he has the hallmark of a potential group horse - acceleration.
'He has a great turn of foot, to be able to win after what happened,' Prebble said.
'He's definitely heading down the path towards the Derby. I was impressed with his win the last time and tried to get on him - they stuck with Vincent [Sit] at Happy Valley but things didn't work out for him there [when a late scratching at the barrier].'
Cruz said that because this was such a make-or-break race for Survey Survey, he decided to go for the experience and big-race clout of Prebble.
'This was a critical race because we wanted to see if he was up to the class and I wanted the opinion of a top jockey,' Cruz said.
'This was a great thrill for me. I am delighted for the owner, Mak Kang-hoi, and we can now go forward to the Mercedes-Benz Classic Mile knowing we have a proper chance in that race.'
Survey Survey was certainly named to be a Hong Kong horse - his registered name in England was Deepwater Bay.
Mak is a good friend of former top jockey Stanley Chin Kin-ming, who engaged the help of Cambridge-based bloodstock agent Alfred Tse to find the owner a suitable horse.
'Stanley called me and said he had an owner who wanted a good PP, and I did the groundwork to find this horse,' Tse said. 'Stanley went over to Ian Balding's property to ride it and said, yes, he feels to me like a very good horse.'
Survey Survey's sire, Chester House, will not be well known to Hongkongers. He is a son of the champion sire Mr Prospector and won the Arlington Million but died in 2003 after a short career at stud.
The most successful distance range for his progeny is 1,400 to 1,800m, but he has seven individual winners at 2,000m and beyond.
Survey Survey had five starts under Balding's care for a win and two seconds, one of them in a Listed race at Goodwood, where Racing Post rated it a 102 performance.