Cruz's confidence grows as Dettori answers SOS
Derby-loving Tony Cruz was full of confidence in Beauty Flash for Sunday's Group One Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby after confirming yesterday that champion rider Frankie Dettori would be adding his brand of charisma to the day.
'Frankie is the best jockey around, he has won everything and we are very happy to have him on Beauty Flash,' Cruz said. 'Derby day is one of the biggest race days we have here and it adds to the atmosphere of the event to have somebody like him flying in to ride in it.'
The popular Italian will take over on one-time Derby favourite Beauty Flash after Christophe Soumillon was suspended for a whip-use offence in Dubai last Friday.
'I feel sorry for Christophe because I believe it's a bit unfair to suspend jockeys for that,' Cruz said. 'I had hoped he might appeal, but there are so many big races on and, as I understand it, Christophe might have missed the World Cup if he appealed.
'That's the richest race in the world so I can understand he doesn't want to miss out, but I don't think we will lose anything by having Frankie, that's for sure.'
Dettori has previously ridden a winner for Cruz, Aggressive Dragon on Queen Elizabeth II Cup day in 1997, and Beauty Flash will give him his best chance to win Hong Kong's favourite domestic event after he had previously finished seventh on 17-1 chance Helene Momentum in 2003 and ninth on 44-1 hope Golconda the season before.
'I don't think Beauty Flash's Derby chance is any worse because he was beaten in the Derby Trial,' Cruz said.
'We tried him from behind the pace there after he was so impressive leading in the Classic Mile and maybe that wasn't the best thing to do. He is still the class horse of the race, if you look at the ratings, and I believe he will run the 2,000m right out.'
Cruz would not commit to putting Beauty Flash back in front on Sunday, but said he would have no objection to the chestnut taking up the running.
'He's certainly the fastest horse in the Derby so it might be that he will go back to leading and I would have no problem with that, but we'll work out our tactics later,' said Cruz, who has already won six Derbies - four as a jockey and two as a trainer, with Lucky Owners (2004) and Helene Mascot (2008) - and will go into the race three-handed.
Felix Coetzee will ride Derby Trial fourth placegetter Super Pistachio and Matthew Chadwick will pilot the outsider of the trio, Straight Forward.
'It will be the first time at 2,000m for Super Pistachio and that's a more appropriate distance for him,' Cruz said. 'I'm really expecting him to do something. He is a quality horse who has already run third in the French Derby and Felix is the right jockey for him.'