The C-Team - trainer Tony Cruz and jockey Felix Coetzee - began the defence of their title as Hong Kong's champion stable when progressive galloper Regency Horse narrowly won the Guangzhou Handicap. The shortest-priced favourite of the day at $21.50 ultimately did what Cruz had promised his army of faithful supporters, although there wasn't any big margin to spare as the Sean Woods-trained Crowned Gem closed fast in the final 100 metres. Unusually, for Cruz, he was keen to deflect attention to the runner-up, labelling the Australian-bred galloper 'the horse to follow' after the judge declared a bare short head had separated the pair at the end of 1,400 metres in a Class Three contest. 'Regency Horse has done a good job but that second horse hit the line impressively, he's the horse to follow,' Cruz said. 'If my horse gets five points [in rating increase] for that win, the second horse should get four. 'That was a great run. I'm just glad to get away with the win,' he said. While Cruz is renowned for downplaying his horses when they're winning in the lower grades - he even spoke less than bullishly about Silent Witness when he won his Class Four in December, 2002 - the champion handler said the amount of upside for Regency Horse was limited. 'He's won in Class Three and I think he's not much more than a Class Two horse,' Cruz said. 'I think I can get a bit more improvement out of him if we can get him going more straight. Did you notice, today, he wanted to shift away from the rails? If I can get him out of that habit, he can do even better.' Cruz last week predicted a slow start to the season for the premier stable, saying the first six weeks would be a struggle. 'But after that, the horses in the higher classes will be ready and things will move along.' Jockey Felix Coetzee did what he usually does, delivering the result with a minimum of fuss. But there was more than a smidgen of relief on the South African's face after correct weight was declared. 'I'm a relieved man to get off the mark,' Coetzee said. 'But on this horse, he definitely has some improvement there. He gets there, makes his own luck and he runs good time. 'However, he does tend to run about a little bit and actually loses himself on the turn. 'Today, he was loafing in front and when Crowned Gem came up on his inside, he was just floating until he saw that horse and then he picked up again.' Regency Horse, a four-year-old New Zealand-bred galloper by Stravinsky, has now raced five times in Hong Kong for two wins, a second and a third. He went to his summer quarters after leading throughout to score in Class Three company on June 12, where he ran the 1,400 metres in the good time of 1:22.5. Cruz, a great student of times, noted that Regency Horse had maintained and even bettered that time yesterday, with the clock stopping at 1:22.4. Lucky Danske, a stablemate of Regency Horse, had no luck, being trapped wide throughout as a result of an awkward barrier draw. From a future perspective, the run of the race was Determination (Shane Dye), who charged home late to be hot on the heels of the placegetters.