Trainer Tony Cruz won a third straight Champions & Chater Cup yesterday but not with the horse most punters expected, while Tommy Berry and Nash Rawiller clashed heatedly during the middle stages in an incident that earned Berry an improper riding ban.

"I didn't mind which one won it as long as it was one of mine," said Cruz, who had won the past two runnings with California Memory and Blazing Speed. "I don't know which horse I'll have next year but hopefully I'll win it again."

The final Group One of the season didn't let anyone down, with Cruz's second-string Helene Super Star and Douglas Whyte prevailing in a blanket finish that saw just a half length over the first five across the line.

Favourite Blazing Speed (Neil Callan) had his chance but wasn't quite able to pull off back-to-back successes, finishing a neck away in fourth, and it was the John Moore-trained pair of Dominant (Berry) and Helene Happy Star (Joao Moreira) who gave the winner the biggest fright.

In the end, the deciding factor was the cushy run Whyte gave Helene Super Star from barrier one, never having to go around a horse for 1,800m of the 2,400m.

"Going past the winning post the first time, I could see Neil was struggling to get Blazing Speed outside me to drop the bit," said Whyte. "And Joao was in front of him and his horse was also keen. I was just following the rail getting a sweet run while those two were burning petrol and that's probably taken its toll in the end. Gate one can work for or against you but it worked to my benefit today. They didn't go too slow or too fast and I was always in the right place.

"The imperative point is that my horse was relaxed, comfortable where he was, and I managed to follow Khaya through when he got off the fence at the 600m and he led me into the race."

Cruz has plans to take the winner overseas, with the Caulfield Cup on the list of possibilities, but was mostly relieved to get a big win out of the former UAE Derby winner after issues with mucopus in his first season and more recently attitude problems.

"I definitely want to take him places so I would consider the Caulfield Cup," Cruz said. "He's grown out of the mucus syndrome but he also has a bad temper - he savages horses and people too. With the cheek pieces on though he seems more focused on racing."

Moore also has his eye on the spring cup races in Australia, saying he would recommend to Dominant's owners a trip for the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups.

"I thought he was unlucky not to win - Tommy was adamant he was hampered at certain stages of the race and I don't want to say any more than that," said Moore.

Stewards later found that Berry was at fault as he and Nash Rawiller (Mr Gnocchi) had a bumping duel through the middle stages of the race, with Berry looking to force Rawiller down to the vacant path against the rail.

"Dominant had established a position directly behind Mr Gnocchi in the lead up to the incident, with both horses racing two wide," said chief steward Kim Kelly. "At the 1,700m, Berry improved around Mr Gnocchi and then turned Dominant into Mr Gnocchi as he tried to take him in to the fence over the next 100m of the race. They did continue to race tight for sometime after but our view was that Berry was guilty of improper riding in that particular 100m section."

Berry was suspended for six Hong Kong meetings, with the suspension to commence after June 20 and to finish at midnight July 7.