Derek Cruz hopes veterans will fly like youngsters in Centenary Sprint
Trainer is quietly confident he will snatch glory with his ageing sprinters led by Joy And Fun
Advancing age may have made any excess pounds harder to shift, but career-threatening injuries and the grind of extensive overseas travel don't seem to have slowed nine-year-old Joy And Fun, one of three Derek Cruz-trained runners in tomorrow's Kent & Curwen Centenary Sprint Trophy.
Joy And Fun will be joined by another stablemate who has turned back the clock, Cerise Cherry, and outsider Flying Colours in the first leg of the speed series up Sha Tin's 1,000-metre straight course.
"I'm expecting Joy And Fun to run a great race - he always does - and Cerise Cherry should be right there as well; he could topple Joy And Fun on his day," Cruz said.
"If we get the right runs then we'll be in the finish. They've done enough work, but I've kept them all on the fresh side."
Both Joy And Fun (Gerald Mosse) and Cerise Cherry (Richard Fourie) have been nominated for races on Dubai World Cup night in March, coming after the Chairman's Sprint Prize on February 17 at Sha Tin.
Joy And Fun is penciled in for a return to the Group One Al Quoz Sprint, a race he won in 2010 when it was a Group Three contest, and finished an unlucky third last year. Cerise Cherry, who has excellent dirt form, will be aimed at the 1,200m Golden Shaheen on the Tapeta.
Cruz must have a fountain of youth at his stables - he has brought Joy And Fun back twice from what would normally be career-ending injuries, and the horse has continued to produce his best form.
"This horse is amazing, he has raced on International Day five times and he has been all over the place - England and Dubai twice, and Singapore," he said.
"We've had to nurse him back to health a few times, but he just comes back stronger each time. This horse has been through so much. It was hard to get the weight off him when he came back from England last time, but he has added even more muscle now. He's a real horse and he finishes off whatever race he is in very strongly."
A gelding operation has put Cerise Cherry's mind back on the job - he has finished second, first, fourth and second in his four runs this term - the win coming at Group Two level in the Premier Bowl.
"He is a different horse all together since we gelded him," Cruz said. "He is seven, but he is like a three- or four-year-old again, now that he is fully concentrating. He has the pace to race right up on the speed, and also the turn of foot to finish off."