Cruz keeps his nose in front in title race as lower graders hit form
A double to leading trainer Tony Cruz has helped him maintain a one-win lead over the barnstorming John Moore in the trainers' title with Happy Forever and Tom's Eighth both chiming in for important wins in the context of Cruz's season.
Cruz has now led in 56 winners and a breakthrough win from Happy Forever could well lead into a another victory from that horse before the season is through, according to winning jockey Greg Cheyne.
Tom's Eighth chalked up his second win for the season yesterday, downing Eagle Spirit by 1 1/4 lengths and providing Cruz with yet another critical multiple winner for the stable.
'Happy Forever was knocking on the door, he ran second at his last start, and today I expected him to perform well, I was very happy with the way he finished the race off,' Cruz said.
'Greg rode a perfect race from the bad draw, even though he was caught wide he still had the horse travelling in a way so that he could perform.'
Cheyne has had limited opportunities for Cruz during his time in Hong Kong, but landed the major prize on Happy Forever, claiming Wasabisabi by a short head on the line, with Star Of Fame 13/4 lengths away in third.
'I was fortunate enough to stay on the horse after his past couple of runs and I must thank Tony for staying loyal to me, it was a gutsy win form the horse and he's at the right level at the moment to get another win or two in Class Four before he would need to graduate to Class Three,' Cheyne said.
It was a more dour performance from Tom's Eighth which rang up the double for Cruz, with former stable apprentice Matthew Chadwick doing the honours on the finely-tuned Cruzer to claim the 2,000m Dingolfing Handicap.
'He's a real stayer now, more like a 1,800 metre to 2,000 metre horse now than when I first got him,' Cruz said.
'When Gerald [Mosse] won on him at 1,600 metres a couple of starts back, I knew that he was looking for further and I'm definitely going to keep him at the longer distances from now on.'
Chadwick added he felt the horse had matured and learned to settle in his races - the key to him stepping up to the longer journey, relaxing off the tempo and then kicking clear of his rivals.
'Tom's Eighth seems to kick a bit better when he is ridden off the speed as he was today, but before he was hard to settle and wouldn't drop his head even in faster run races,' Chadwick said.
'He's learned to relax in the early stages now and he travels a lot sweeter in the run.'
Top of the summit
Tony Cruz extended his lead in the trainers' standings, taking his tally to: 56