Bullish a friend indeed as Wong sticks to the script
Quality ride and strict adherence to Cruz's instructions make the difference as jockey finally cracks his first win of the term
There's nothing unusual in a double for leading trainer Tony Cruz or even for one of the yard's best supporters over the past decade, owner Wong Wing-keung, but you could have had very long odds indeed about their double yesterday being steered in by Olivier Doleuze and Terry Wong Chi-wai.
For Terry Wong, Bullish Friend was his first win of the season after a drought of 128 mounts since his last victory, Bespoke Master on July 8, his first win for Cruz in almost seven years and the three-year-old only got his chance to run after being promoted from the reserve list when Smart Volatility was scratched.
"After declarations, Mr Cruz contacted me for the horse and said I could ride him if he got into the field," Wong said. "The instructions were simple - just be second or third and I think I showed that when I have a good horse, I can win. Most of the time, my horses are not good horses and so they don't win and I didn't feel any pressure to ride a good quality horse for a change. Hopefully, I will get more quality support after this."
Wong had only 21 rides from the Cruz stable since his last win for him in June, 2006 and only a handful in the past five years, but the former champion jockey himself put some homespun common sense into the story.
"It's the horse that does the running, anyway, isn't it? The jockey is just the pilot to ride the horse according to my instructions and, if he does that, then the result is the same whoever rides it," Cruz said.
"And don't forget the local jockeys get an allowance as well, so I took full advantage of that with Bullish Friend. Terry didn't have the best barrier in nine but he rode the perfect race - exactly to my instructions - and then he showed some patience and waited in the straight."
Bullish Friend was one of three runners on the card for the owner, best known as the owner of former world-class miler Bullish Luck, and he went within a length of all three winning.
"Fantastic. My owner's pretty happy with two, but if Bullish Power had won the first race as well, I think he would have been over the moon." said Cruz.
If Terry Wong had been a long time between drinks with the Cruz yard, top French rider Doleuze had not been far behind.
With Matthew Chadwick, who does much of the stable riding, out suspended, Doleuze got the call-up for Bullish Boy and made no mistake to land only his second victory for the trainer - the first coming way back in February 2007 - despite some bumping in the final 300m with favourite Bobo Dragon, who had Zac Purton aboard.
"I don't get many rides for Tony but this was a nice one to pick up - he had looked like he was close to his win and the inside gate helped a lot," Doleuze said. "But he was very brave. He was wandering in the straight and the favourite tried to keep me in but he wasn't put off by the contact and he was very tough, very brave."
Cruz gave full marks to Doleuze for getting Bullish Boy over the line but was prepared to concede the second horse looked the unlucky runner.
"He had barrier 14 and we had barrier two, and Olivier rode a great race. Probably the best horse wasn't the winner but that happens sometimes," he said.