Derek Cruz continued his purple patch of form with a race-to-race double at Happy Valley last night, getting the most out of ageing campaigner My Home Town and producing course specialist Flying Colours for another thrilling win at big odds, the sprinter's third success at the city track this term.
Cruz's eight-year-old stable star Joy And Fun was a popular Group One winner on Sunday and the trainer closed last night's meeting with two upset victories, the last to Flying Colours in a Class One (1,000m), giving the horse an outside chance in the 1010 Million Challenge.
'He is just such a genuine horse and I'm so happy for the owners,' said Cruz.
Flying Colours (Tye Angland) moved to third on 49 points in the 1010 Challenge, behind Mr Bond and Happy Yeah Yeah, with three meetings remaining in the series decided on races at Happy Valley.
The Challenge Finale meeting on February 29 features a 110-85 over 1,200m which Cruz (pictured) will aim the horse at.
'He is a big strong horse, so why not?' he said.
The training effort to get another Class Three win from seven-year-old My Home Town was noteworthy, but Cruz said the horse might find a jump in grade tough.
'He is not getting any younger and Class Two might find him out,' said Cruz, after Derek Leung Ka-chun got an easy passage to outside the lead from barrier nine and then a soft tempo.
Ricky Yiu Poon-fai had tried to convince the owners of Legendary Dragon that the European import was a 'Happy Valley horse' before his first-up run, to no avail, but after a convincing come-from-behind victory under Neil Callan in a Class Three last night, they now agree.
'They insisted we run at Sha Tin last time,' Yiu said. 'He needed that run up the straight, but he is better here.'
Both Yiu and Callan said the horse had an 'attitude', with the trainer saying the gelding 'acts like he is a colt'.
'He has a real character and a fighting spirit,' Yiu said, while Callan added the horse's mindset and size suited the tight track.
'He is tailor-made for this track,' he said. 'He is not very big, but he is very strong, with a big back end on him. It's also his mental attitude ... he has got a little bit of zip to him and he is always on his toes.'
The meeting opened just as Sunday's fixture at Sha Tin closed, with a winner the subject of a late betting move. It wasn't to the scale of the Berio plunge, but Mr Award (Ben So Tik-hung) was punted from $75 to start $34, a three day back-up paying off for Peter Ho Leung in a Class Five (1,000m).
'This horse should not be in Class Five and just ran into another good horse on Sunday,' Ho said. 'Obviously he was very fit.'
Michael Chang Chun-wai-trained Good Chariot (Eddy Lai Wai-ming) was well-found at $51 in the second race, but the rest of the card was a nightmare for punters, with a the remaining six races won by horses paying double-figure odds.
Perfect Joy ($223), How Wonderful ($103), Legendary Dragon ($285.50), Indigo Way ($106) and finally Cruz's pair, ($261 and $316.50) made it a tough night at the office for bettors.