A Class Two win was a year too late for Tony Cruz’s California Disegno, at least from a Derby perspective, but runner-up Circuit Hassler reignited his chances of running in the once-in-a-lifetime race with his return to form.
For Cruz, California Disegno’s triumph was some consolation after the import failed to make the field for last year’s BMW Hong Kong Derby in a disappointing first season.
Yet there is still hope in 2017 for Circuit Hassler as the New Zealand import resurrected a Derby campaign that looked to be heading in the same direction as his stablemate’s 12 months earlier.
“We are happy all around, California Disegno deserved that, he should have won last start, and a strong run here was part of the plan for Circuit Hassler as well, hopefully he is on his way to the Derby,” Cruz said.
Circuit Hassler was a Group Two winner over 2,100m in New Zealand and arrived off a mark of 85 but was disappointing in his first two starts before capitulating after leading in the Hong Kong Classic Mile.
Fearing his four-year-old would miss a run in next week’s Hong Kong Classic Cup, Cruz instead came back to handicaps, and back to an unsuitably short 1,600m, in search of form and ratings points.
Cruz found both, even if the son of Shocking only receives an incremental bump in the ratings, but the trainer now needs to find another race in the next five weeks.
“He needed the ratings and I really didn’t think he would make the field for the Classic Cup,” Cruz said. “Now he will go up a few points and is in form, but that’s not enough for the Derby so he will have to go to the races again before then.”
The obvious target for Circuit Hassler is the extended band Class Two over 1,800m two weeks before the Derby.
The race is unofficially dubbed the “Collection Stakes” after John Moore campaigned for the ratings band to be extended to 105, allowing his horse another run before going on to win the 2009 Derby.
Cruz wasn’t putting Circuit Hassler in the same category but he does believe the gelding will find his best form over more ground.
“Hopefully another run there will be enough to get him into the Derby, as he is going to be so much better now that he has acclimatised and is back up to a distance that suits him,” he said.