The Golden Age stamped himself as a horse to follow next season with a dominant front-running victory in the Group Three Lion Rock Trophy at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Tony Cruz’s four-year-old got peach of a ride from Joao Moreira, who rated him perfectly as he cruised away to beat Beauty Only and Romantic Touch to complete a stable tierce.
It’s the second time Cruz has achieved the feat in eight days after Pakistan Star, Exultant and Gold Mount did likewise in the Group One Champions & Chater Cup.
“What a result for the stable, it’s always great to win these big races and we’ve got some nice horses at the moment,” Cruz said.
After winning his first two starts of the season, The Golden Age has continued to race well without winning – coming second in the Group Three January Cup, third in the Classic Cup and fifth in the Hong Kong Derby – but he found conditions to suit.
He makes his own luck out in front and with just 115 pounds on his back, he proved too strong.
“It was a very suitable race for the horse,” Moreira said.
“As expected he led, but down the back straight he shied at some of the marks on the track so he jumped and got himself a little unbalanced. Once he found his balance again he gave me such a nice feel.
“He put on a very nice sectional and he was still able to finish off strong. The light weight on his back obviously helped him out, but he’s a nice horse to be finishing off the race the way he did.
“I think there is still a lot of upside to him.”
Cruz shares a similar opinion.
“I’m very happy with this horse, he’s a young horse improving all the time,” he said.
“He’s a miler, probably not an 1,800m or 2,000m horse, and goes on any ground. Today was Joao’s first ride on the horse and, under a good ride from the front, he showed everyone how good this horse is.
“Beauty Only carried a big weight and I think he got beat by it, if he’d raced The Golden Age at set weights they would have been very close. One’s on the way down and one’s on the way up, though, so it could be different in six months.”
Cruz will look at the Group Three Premier Plate (1,800m) on June 24 as a seasonal swansong for The Golden Age.
“I’ll see how The Golden Age pulls up, but there’s a good chance he goes for the 1,800m,” he said.
“The Golden Age is a bit of a rising star and he’ll make a nice horse next season. On the other hand, I think we are now seeing that Beauty Only is past his prime. We will freshen him for next season now and hopefully he might have another win left in him.”
The Golden Age’s win completed a treble for Moreira, who also guided David Hall’s Magic Success and Mighty Maverick, from the Derek Cruz stable, to victory.
That lifts the Magic Man to 116 winners for the season, three ahead of Zac Purton, but he will have to cool his jets for a week as he misses the next two meetings through suspension.
But it was almost a very big day for Moreira, who came second on two short-priced favourites in Superich and Mission Tycoon.
“They are two very nice horses and people should stick with them,” he said.
Francis Lui Kin-wai’s Jumbo Luck was the one who knocked off Mission Tycoon in the Class Two sprint, rolling forward from barrier 10 and he responded when his rival loomed up in the run to the line.
“I was a bit surprised he showed such strong pace early but he sustained it – the sign of a good horse,” apprentice Jack Wong Ho-nam said.
“I tried to wait as long as possible before asking him for an effort. He’s so honest and just does everything right.
“He still wanted to fight when Mission Tycoon came up outside him.”