Bounty's big heart makes up for his small size: Cruz
California Bounty knocked off a couple of Class Two heavyweights, yet his trainer Tony Cruz says it is the import's lack of size - but definitely not his heart - that will probably stop him from reaching the very top.
"He is like a mini coupe with a porsche engine in it" is how Cruz described the English-bred three-year-old after he left Little Cow and Amber Sky in his wake up the Sha Tin straight.
Getting 13 and 18 pounds off the second and third placegetters didn't hurt a horse that has weighed in at less than 980 pounds in his two starts for Cruz.
"He is a small horse with a very big heart," the trainer said. "He is a real sprinter and he runs or any going, soft or heavy or fast or firm, he is a consistent horse and lovely to train. I expected him to win today, but I don't think he is a Group One horse - it's his size that worries me. Maybe Group Three."
California Bounty defied a betting drift to win, getting out to 5.5 at the jump, the market dominated by 2.2 favourite Amber Sky - his jockey Andreas Suborics suggesting it might be time for the three-year-old to try a turn for the first time - and Little Cow solid at 3-1.
The jury is still out on whether the California Bounty can produce his best around a bend - his entire racing career in Europe was over straight courses - although he was a respectable third first-up at Sha Tin over 1,200m.
"He laid out a fair bit when he went around a turn and I was much happier coming to the 1,000m straight with him," said Matthew Chadwick. "But it was really that the 1,200m was a bit too far for him, I thought, I think 1,100m is about his best distance and that was the trip where he got his best win in France. It's hard for him to stay out that last 100m over 1,200m."
Cruz admitted it was a mistake to debut over 1,200m. "I should have just run him up the straight, he is just a 1,000m horse. He might get 1,200m at his absolute limit but he is just a real jump-and-run type of horse with speed to burn."
It was the 900th winner for Cruz as a trainer - to go with his 946 winners as a six-time champion jockey, and it came for one of his best family of owners.
California Bounty is raced by Lucy Lu Kai-yee, the daughter of the late Thomas Liang Ting-sen, who raced many good horses with Cruz including King of Danes, and whose family now race multiple Group One winner California Memory.