Back-to-back double keeps Cruz in charge

Robin Parke

DETERMINED Tony Cruz, hungrily intent on winning this year's championship, chalked up a Sunday best double at Sha Tin yesterday and will clearly carry the battle all the way to the line.

Cruz, whose international wanderings looked at times to have blunted his zest when riding locally, is relentlessly hunting rides and winners and on the track is in superb form. That showed through again yesterday when he posted his back-to-back double with topweight Bayview Boy (9-5 favourite) in the second event and followed up with another top win from Namjong (3-1 favourite) in a Class Three, 1,400-metre event.

That cancelled out a similar performance from Gerald Mosse and kept Cruz on top with 30 winners. And Namjong gave irrepressible Peter Ng Bik-kuen his 22nd winner of the season and he now shares top place on the table with Patrick Biancone. With neither John Moore nor Derek Cruz scoring yesterday, local product Ng and Frenchman Biancone are temporarily alone on top. Namjong, blessed by drawing barrier one at his last three starts, duly completed the hat-trick for Cruz who had him moving sweetly throughout the trip. He was aided by a distinct drop in weight from his last start but it was a close affair and topweight All Thrills (6-1), although given every chance by Frankie F. C. Lor, might have prevailed with a more accomplished rider in the saddle.

Bayview Boy, who had a tough time last time out at Happy Valley when carted wide on the first bend and the home turn, did look the one to beat in the Classes One and Two longer sprint. He was held together well by Cruz, who ensured there was enough left to stave off any determined challenges in the final 200 metres, and Bayview Boy won with the minimum of fuss.

Irish import Evasive Tactic (8-1), with replacement rider Alan Munro aboard, clearly relished Sha Tin and the longer trip much better than the short sprint at Happy Valley last time and ran on fairly for second. He could be most effective when stepped upto 1,400 metres.

The win of Bayview Boy initiated a double for trainer Peter Tse Yan-sid, who went into the meeting with just one winner on the board.

Doubles are nothing new to Cruz but they are vital as he bids for the title that looked beyond him when splitting with brother Derek six weeks ago.

But he has gone about his work since with a will and said: ''It was never going to be easy for me after leaving Derek but I have had an enormous amount of support and I am really delighted with the way things are going now.

''I am getting on horses that can do something and I know that every single winner is vital. But if I can keep getting good horses from the trainers for whom I mostly ride, then I must be a chance for the title,'' he said.

Although Cruz does not ride at the minimum weight he will come in for a lot more rides than chief danger Gerald Mosse, having trouble riding at 122 pounds.

There were four newcomers involved in Bayview Boy's race with Send A Signal (5-1) the only one supported in the market. But the money was off target as the Moore-trained import faded to finish ninth.

It was Moore's other newcomer, 60-1 chance Colours Hero, who impressed most, running a stout race to take fifth place.