Cruz in control as he nudges two ahead
Brett Prebble may have denied Tony Cruz in one of the day's trophy events yesterday, but the leading trainer was able to improve his narrow edge in the championship race over John Moore one race later.
Moore and Cruz have come away from the rest of the field to battle for this season's championship, and while Moore had a fairly quite day, both in numbers and results, Cruz edged two wins to the good through promising Best Fit (Matthew Chadwick).
Chadwick persisted in holding the inside rail on Best Fit in the Beas River Handicap (1,200m) on the all-weather and it proved a winning move over Horse Galore (Howard Cheng Yue-tin), with almost five lengths to the rest.
'The dirt track usually favours the front runners and I wasn't about to let Howard cross me - if he wanted the rail, he was going to have to earn a suspension doing it,' Chadwick said. 'In the end he had to sit outside me and that made the difference.'
Cruz has won four of six starts with Best Fit, who already has victories on all three track surfaces. 'I'm very happy with him. He has shown he handles any kind of conditions and any going as well. Wet track, dry track, turf, dirt,' Cruz said.
'We only beat the same horse again and the weight change in the handicap wasn't a big difference, but our horse just seems to have that bit more energy, more gas in the tank. I'd like to see the horse go over further in the future. 'He's got ability, now we just see how far he will go. As for the trainers' championship, well, I don't want to go off early - it is still very close and can change day by day.'
Best Fit's work companion in the lead-up to the meeting was Space Race, another speedy three-year-old trained by Cruz, who threatened to help in the race for the title, too, until Eagle Regiment (Prebble) grabbed him in the last stride.
'I think Space Race wants blinkers to help him focus a bit more and, like Best Fit, he'll fill out and get stronger next season, too, but I don't think he saw Eagle Regiment coming today,' Chadwick said.
'He thought the job was done and then suddenly Brett's horse was there right at the post.'
But Prebble is equally adamant the best is ahead of Manfred Man Ka-leung-trained Eagle Regiment, who is still learning his trade and has won two from four with two narrow defeats in the other two runs.
'The two races I've been on him before today, he was never on the bridle and from the low draw today I thought it was a chance to get him to drop his head early, so I was in no hurry,' Prebble said.
'From where I was drawn, there was no way I could cross to outside early anyway, so I decided to teach him something early on, get him to drop his head then make my way to the best part of track when it mattered.'
A son of Silent Witness' sire, El Moxie, Eagle Regiment has only raced up the straight at this point, but that won't be his future.
'When you get an El Moxie that can gallop, they are usually pretty good. He doesn't look or give you the feel of a 1,000m sprinter, even though I think he has another win in him at this trip,' Prebble said.
'But he's had a few issues and he hasn't been ready, physically or mentally, to race over further yet.'
Worth his place
With 16 meetings to go, Tony Cruz has already racked up this many winners to sit ahead of John Moore in the trainers' table: 60