A double to Matthew Chadwick propelled him to double figures and equal top spot in the Jockeys' Championship, as his second winner, Bould Mover, revealed himself as a possible all-weather specialist at last night's all-dirt meeting at Sha Tin.
Chadwick started the night as a 12-1 outsider in Jockey Challenge betting, but clinched victory as more-favoured rivals Douglas Whyte and Zac Purton went winless.
Bould Mover had won one from 21 locally, and had run well in two turf starts this season, but he may have found a new home on the dirt after a dominant victory.
"I didn't think he had trialled that well on the dirt," said Cruz, when asked why he hadn't raced the former English galloper on the inner track previously. "He had been trialling well enough on the turf to keep him there, but obviously he'll be sticking to the dirt from now on."
There was some luck in Chadwick's first win on Solar Up, as he was called in as substitute for indisposed apprentice Dicky Lui Cheuk-yin.
Solar Up's trainer Michael Chang Chun-wai said a lead-up run had his sprinter primed for a return to his preferred surface.
"Class Three is too tough for him, but having the run under his belt and then coming back to the dirt - bingo," he said.
Sean Woods' resurgence continued as Free Judgement (Howard Cheng Yu-tin) swooped off a hot speed in the last, the trainer claiming his five-year-old had made significant off-season improvement because of a gelding operation.
"He had showed a lot of ability before, but cutting him has really helped him, he has lightened right up," explained Woods, who now has five wins for the term after a slow start.
"I told Howard not to panic if he got too far back early, because we thought they would go fast. It helped that they went very quickly in front, but he finished off strongly. I'm not sure what time he reeled off that last quarter in, but it must have been very quick."
Popular owner Manu Melwani, proprietor of famous menswear store Sam's The Tailor, got his first win for the season when Caspar Fownes-trained Green Zone caused an upset in the High West Handicap.
John Size-trained Bundle Of Love was sent out 1.8 favourite, but was left in Green Zone's wake. "I was hoping we would draw the other class four race, and not face Bundle Of Love, but we were still very confident after his last run at the Valley," Fownes said. "While he obviously favours this surface, he could win with a decent draw over 1,200m at the other track."
Manfred Man Ka-leung trained a double, but admitted he had his doubts about his first winner All Friends getting 1,650m after a previous failure over 1,400m on the turf, and only entered his horse for the race when he missed a start in the two class four 1,200m events.
Drawing gate one helped Tim Clark give the grey a soft run and he peeled out of a pocket late to win well. "I have to thank Alex Lai Hoi-wing for telling me to enter the horse over this distance, I didn't think he would be able to run it out," said Man, whose other winner, Blessing Win, had one placing to show for his nine starts going into last night's low-quality Class Five, but clearly favours the all-weather track after producing some nice trials on the surface.
Francis Lui Kin-wai trained his 400th winner when Loads Of Joy was given a perfect ride by Weichong Marwing. "This horse has dropped a lot in the ratings, and it was a weak race as it was split into two divisions," Lui said.
Happy Cha Cha stormed through the pack under a nice rails ride by Jacky Tong Chi-kit and despite now having 39 starts, trainer Me Tsui Yu-sak still believes his six-year-old can climb higher in the ratings. "He races well on the dirt, but he needs to race inside of horses and get cover like he did tonight," Tsui said.