Cruz: weight of expectation on Beauty Flash
Trainer Tony Cruz is wary of fighting another 'battle of the bulge' with Beauty Flash before Sunday's Group One Yasuda Kinen, but believes Tokyo will see a better and stronger horse than in his disappointing run a year ago.
'When he was younger, there were always scoping problems, with blood in his trachea an issue that held him back, including in this race,' said Cruz of the chestnut's career-worst run when 11th to Showa Modern in 2010. 'But I knew that something wasn't right with him that day. Between being weighed on the Friday and again on the day of the race, Beauty Flash put on 18 kilos. That's an amazing amount of weight to put on. Something had to be wrong.'
Former champion miler Good Ba Ba also showed a severe body weight change prior to finishing 17th in the Yasuda Kinen in 2008 - also the worst run of his career, and Cruz said he was 'doing things differently' this time.
'Beauty Flash is a huge eater but I won't let him put on that sort of weight again. It will be impossible,' Cruz said confidently. 'Maybe a few kilos but that is OK.'
Beauty Flash had the use of the turf course yesterday amid light rain, but Cruz eschewed a hard gallop for a jump-out from the gates in the back straight and a dash around to the 600m before just ambling up the hill in the straight to finish at the 200m.
'That's just what he needed to keep the weight off,' Cruz said. 'Beauty Flash is a better and stronger horse than he was last year. He has had better results this season because he has become more mature and overthrown the bleeding problems. And I think that last season we were trying to make him something he wasn't by running over longer distances for the sake of the Derby and now we recognise that he is a miler.'
Meanwhile, Dale Bussey, the experienced travelling assistant and work rider for the Caspar Fownes-trained Thumbs Up was upbeat about the six-year-old and the gelding practically glowed with rude health as he cantered around the all-weather surface.
Among other horses, Bussey has travelled Green Birdie on overseas missions for Fownes and was the regular companion of globetrotting success Cape Of Good Hope for David Oughton several years ago.
'I think of all the horses I have travelled, Thumbs Up has been the easiest. He has not done a thing wrong since he got here,' said Bussey, who rode him in his main work for the week on Wednesday.
'He hadn't trialled since his last run so did need a good gallop. He went 1,200m in a progressive hit-out, finding the line strongly and it gave him a chance to get a feel of the rising ground here. All alone on a big track he was a touch lost so I kept at him to finish it off, but I was happy with how he did it.'