It's all Joy And Fun for Derek Cruz and owners
Joy And Fun will get one last chance at international glory and perhaps a swansong at the scene of his greatest triumph after shrugging off a career-threatening injury for the second time in his life and making a one-act affair of the HKSAR Chief Executive's Cup on opening day.
Yesterday's hot favourite, Little Bridge (Zac Purton) was just a yearling when Joy And Fun suffered a fractured wither four years ago and the old-timer's career had looked over again since when he fractured a cannon in the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, 2010.
'Either injury could easily have ended his career - he broke six vertebrae in the first injury - but it just shows he's a real fighter,' said a delighted trainer Derek Cruz after the eight-year-old and Brett Doyle had scored by almost two lengths from the favourite.
Joy And Fun had five starts last season after successful surgery to repair his damaged left foreleg, and while he was never the Joy And Fun of old, Cruz never gave up hope.
'He was not stretching out the way I would have liked, the way he normally would,' said Cruz after the gelding pushed his stake earnings past HK$15 million. 'But he was still running all right and that's why we persisted. He was beaten four lengths or five lengths, not that far, so I said to the owner that he should keep him going this season. If he didn't show us some form by the time of the internationals in December, then I said he should probably be retired. But this has changed everything and he has pulled up really well after that run today. Now that he is running well again, we'll go for the internationals and possibly on to Dubai again - he'll get his shot at the big time one more time and that will be it for him.'
Joy And Fun's regular partner Doyle, who won the Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai on him, said that in hindsight perhaps the gelding had come back to racing too quickly after his ordeal at Ascot.
'I guess it was a bit of a rush to get him back again after what happened at Ascot,' he said. 'He was never himself afterwards but his work had been much better lately and when he trialled the way he did last week, I did think he felt like he was somewhere near his old form again. It was just a case of him finding that spark and he did - he was very well handicapped in a Class One race and I would have been disappointed with him today if he hadn't run well.'