Trainer says he can't clinch fourth straight title despite improving his own strike rate this season John Size trained three winners at yesterday's feature race meeting at Sha Tin and then unburdened himself with a declaration that arch-rival Tony Cruz is 'home and hosed' in the trainers' premiership race. Size, 50, has been in Hong Kong three full seasons and won the premiership each time, an astonishing feat of horsemanship that has gained him an army of admirers at home and around the world. But number four won't be happening, at least not this season. 'Have a look at the race book,' Size said matter-of-factly, 'this was meeting number 40 for the season and Tony is 15 winners in front. It's mathematically impossible for me to beat him. The premiership is all over, no need for any further discussion.' Late last season and early this term, the Size-Cruz battle had been an arm wrestle, a see-sawing contest in which one trainer would strike a blow only to be counter claimed by his rival a race or two later. But in the last two months, Cruz's 'pedal to the metal' philosophy has blown away all opposition, the reigning champion trainer included. Even on a treble day, Size gained only a miniscule advantage, as Cruz led in two winners and three seconds from eight runners. What's it been like for the incumbent trophy holder and how has he handled the pressure? 'Ironically, it's been easier than ever because the pressure is off - Tony's going to win the premiership and the pressure, for the first time, is no longer on me. 'I said at the start of the season, I couldn't win the premiership for a fourth time and, unfortunately, I'll be proved right,' Size continued. 'I knew I just didn't have the firepower this year, with a lot of horses who were well up in the handicaps for their form last season.' As usual with team Size, his treble yesterday had its foundation in some extraordinary skill and horsemanship. Take, for example, runaway race four winner Fashion Jewellery, who had his first start at 1,600 metres and bolted in by 43/4 lengths. 'Well, he was a bit of a trick because he wouldn't go around corners,' Size said. 'So all I could do with him while he got used to the idea was race him over 1,000 metres down the straight. Those races were too short for him, but they served their purpose and they helped him become very solid in condition. 'Now, he's had three races around a bend and handled it all right. Today's was a really good win and he appreciated the slightly softer track, as well as the step up to a mile.' Winner number two for Size was $19.50 favourite Picture Perfect (Douglas Whyte), who fought off the Cruz-trained Bullish General ($73) under the guidance of Stanley Chin kin-ming to prevail by a neck. 'He was a horse who took a full preparation to get used to the place,' Size said. 'He's coping better now but can still get a bit on the toe, but he's not wasting as much energy as before. If his temperament keeps going the right way, then he'll be all right.' Size completed his treble with another honest servant, Dr Well, who was abandoned by Whyte after his ninth to Cheerful Heart over 2,200 metres at Happy Valley on January 12. Size didn't have to look far for a replacement and renewed his association with his Audemars Pigquet Queen Elizabeth II Cup-winning jockey, Glyn Schofield. 'He's another who definitely enjoyed the softer track today, because he's quite a one-paced horse and just keeps going,' Size said. 'He's had excuses at his last couple of runs but I was pleased to see him back on song. He was given a perfect ride and, like most winners, had all favours.' While Size may have had to bow to the all-conquering Cruz this year, his performance figures are actually better than last year's. He won the 2003-04 premiership with a strike rate of 13 per cent and this year has turned them out even more consistently at 14.4 per cent. The problem is that Cruz, in unstoppable mode, has improved his season strike-rate to 22.4 per cent. And that spells premiership.