Tony Cruz was thrilled to call on champion jockey Felix Coetzee to ride smart winner Sunshine Day and re-establish their deadly combination, but was left concerned after the colt suffered a deep laceration after being galloped on.
Coetzee, in town to ride Real Specialist for John Size in the Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby, rode his first winner for Cruz in 1999 and punched home an amazing 343 since then, 18 of those on champion sprinter Silent Witness.
The South African, now riding in his homeland, jumped at the chance to ride for his former collaborator and was relieved to go home with something to show for his hit-and run mission, after Real Specialist finished ninth in the Derby.
'I had a feeling I was going to be able to do something for Tony,' Coetzee said. 'He gave me a call and slipped me on to a winner, it makes such a difference to the trip.'
Cruz said Coetzee's experience came in handy on the three-year-old after he had hung badly at his last start.
'I wanted a strong rider because he is a little bit immature with the way he was racing,' he said. 'The horse was running-on last start but was really hanging, we needed someone strong. Felix was perfect, this time the horse was a little bit more mature as well.
Because of Sunshine Day's northern hemisphere breeding, Cruz said he has always being 'playing catch-up' this preparation.
'He only had one start in Ireland as a two-year-old, which he won, but he has arrived here a little bit behind, especially against older horses,' Cruz said. 'He is really maturing now, he is getting better physically.' The main worry for Cruz after the half-length win, his first local victory in five tries, was a wound on the horse's left hind leg.
'He was galloped on from behind and cut his tendon,' he said. 'I'll see how deep it is, but you could see his tendon and where it was chopped into, there was a lot of blood coming out of it.'