Cruz accepts Dubai World Cup challenge despite HK champion having to compete on dirt for first time Bullish Luck, Hong Kong's reigning Horse of the Year, has been invited to compete against the world's number one racehorse, Invasor, in the US$6 million Dubai World Cup on March 31. And to the surprise of most, owner Wong Wing-keung and trainer Tony Cruz have decided to take up the challenge, with Cruz confirming yesterday that Bullish Luck will switch from the Dubai Duty Free on turf to tackle the world's richest horse race, on a totally foreign dirt surface. 'I know it will surprise some people but I've had this in the back of my mind for a while and we now that we have been invited, we have decided to go ahead,' Cruz said yesterday. 'He's a year older now and has been finding the mile races a fraction short, and we know he's already proven at 2,000 metres - on turf, at least. First, we will run in the Hong Kong Gold Cup here on Sunday week [March 4].' While there are huge question marks over Bullish Luck's ability to handle the Dubai dirt track, Cruz is taking the optimistic view. 'I think he maybe able to handle it. Whenever we have trialled him on the dirt here at Sha Tin, he's always gone well, even though the trials are at 1,050 or 1,200 metres - way short of his best distances.' Cruz said there is also breeding evidence to suggest Bullish Luck will handle the dirt, with three champion dirt middle-distance racers close up in the mother's half of the pedigree. 'His dam is American-bred, by Alysheba, who won a Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Breeders' Cup Classic - he was a champion at 2,000 metres on dirt,' Cruz said. 'He [Alysheba] was by Alydar, who was also a dirt champion in America, while Bullish Luck's grandmother is by another Kentucky Derby winner in Foolish Pleasure. So there are a lot of reasons to believe he might handle the dirt track in Dubai.' Last June in Tokyo, Bullish Luck became only the fourth Hong Kong horse - after Fairy King Prawn, Cape Of Good Hope and Silent Witness - to win a Group One race on foreign soil. His sparkling victory in the Yasuda Kinen, trouncing the best Japanese milers and two of Hong Kong's best in Joyful Winner and The Duke, saw him maintain his spot on the official list of the world's top 50 racehorses. He returned from Tokyo to make a clean sweep of the end of season awards, taking the gongs for Champion Miler, Horse of the Year and Hong Kong's Most Popular horse. This season, Bullish Luck has been solid without being spectacular, with his best effort being a late-closing fourth to The Duke in the HK$14 million Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile on December 10. Since arriving here as a three-year-old in 2002, Bullish Luck has scored nine wins and eight minor placings from 40 starts, for prize money of HK$53,560,180, making him the leading active prize money winner in Hong Kong and second, behind his recently retired stablemate Silent Witness (HK$62,496,396) on the all-time earners list. The Dubai World Cup is the centrepiece of the world's richest night of racing, where some 70 to 80 racehorses ship in from all over the world to complete for a share in a US$21 million pie. Hong Kong's best performance at this meeting was staged by Fairy King Prawn who, like Bullish Luck, was a winner of Japan's premier mile, the Yasuda Kinen. Fairy King Prawn, ridden by Robbie Fradd, was a close second to Jim And Tonic in the Group One Dubai Duty Free in 2001. Hong Kong's other prominent performance came from the David Hayes-trained Helene Vitality, who ran second in the Dubai Sheema Classic (2,400m) in 2002 when ridden by Gerald Mosse.