California Memory is all class
Little grey lands the Champions & Chater Cup - season's final Group One - and helps mentor Cruz win the race for the first time as a trainer
Class told in the season's final Group One as California Memory brushed aside lesser mortals in the Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup and trainer Tony Cruz finally added one of the few majors to elude him as a trainer.
Cruz won everything as a jockey, including three Champions & Chater Cups, but his last win in the race had been a dead-heat victory for John Moore sitting astride Makarpura Star in 1995 and it was Moore that he foiled, not once but twice, in landing the quinella yesterday.
Moore send out the favourite Dominant (Zac Purton), who finished third and well-backed Irian, fourth, but it was Cruz's day and Willie Cazals (Gerald Mosse) surged home to take the runner-up spot.
"I think if we'd got a wet track, Willie Cazals would have won it but California Memory is an international champion and he and Matthew have a relationship - Matthew knows him like the back of his hand and I'm sure California Memory knows Matthew," Cruz said. "We know the problems this horse has got. We have to medicate his joints and the new rules they brought in this season have made that more difficult to get the timing right for his races - that's one of the reasons why he didn't perform in the Gold Cup. But he was better prepared for the QE II and today."
The win takes the grey out for the season on a high note, with Cruz targetting him for another Hong Kong Cup in December when he returns later in the year.
"That's the end, there's no other race to run in unless we take him elsewhere and when we did that before, he got injuries and went lame so he'll be sticking to Hong Kong races," Cruz said of the seven-year-old.
"Here we have plenty of time between his races, so you can do with him whatever you want to do with him."
California Memory had three Group Ones and two Group Two wins going into the Champions & Chater off a second to Military Attack when underdone in the QE II Cup, and was the quality act despite tackling 2,400m for the first time in his career. His backers were never concerned.
"He needed the run in the QE II and had come on for it, although I don't think he was even 100 per cent today," said Chadwick.
"Whether it was his class or he really ran out the 2,400m? I think a bit of both. My job was to have him relaxed behind to see out the distance and he relaxed beautifully. He got left a little flat-footed 600m out when the tempo increased but then he showed the acceleration we expected and I felt he ran the distance out no problem.
"He could win another one at this distance but probably at a domestic level. For the international level, I'd say he's a better 2,000m horse."
Purton said he felt Dominant would win the race at the 600m after being positioned up in the one-out one-back through the running, but he had felt the pinch late and notched up a second third placing in the race to add to last year's minor spot.
"He ran well but, if anything, a touch disappointing the last 200m when he emptied out," he said. "I thought he should have held down second even after the winner got to him."