Hong Kong racing’s newest bromance is off to an inspired start after Karis Teetan and Tony Cruz joined forces to collect a hat-trick of winners at Sha Tin on Sunday.
The duo struck early, taking out the Class One Kwangtung Handicap Cup (1,400m) with Romantic Touch before snatching the next two races with Circuit Number Two and Supreme Witness.
Before the start of the season, Cruz approached Teetan about partnering his superstar Pakistan Star, establishing a relationship that had barely existed in the five seasons prior.
During that time, the pair combined for just two winners from 42 rides yet they eclipsed that previous total within one hour on Sunday.
Cruz is “very happy” with how the new arrangement has started.
“Last season Zac Purton was champion, Joao Moreira was second and Karis Teetan was third, so we thought that would make sense – get Karis to ride Pakistan Star,” Cruz said. “Some jockeys said they could ride for now, but Karis is committed all the way.”
With Teetan putting his faith in Cruz, the two-time champion trainer rewarded him with rides on all four of the horses he sent to the races.
“I’ve been here for so long and I didn’t expect him to give me the big horse [Pakistan Star], so I keep saying thanks to Tony and the owner for trusting me and giving me the opportunity,” Teetan said.
“But I’m really glad that I could have a few winners for Tony, to be able to have a good relationship with him.
“He’s a very good trainer, he was a very good jockey here so he knows a lot about Hong Kong racing and I think just being around him and riding for him, I think I will learn a little bit more.”
In need of a first win this term, @KarisTeetan plays a perfect game of catch-me-if-you-can on the Tony Cruz-trained Romantic Touch and comes out on top in the Sha Tin feature, the Kwangtung Handicap Cup. #HKRacing pic.twitter.com/O4vZg3QIUv— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) September 9, 2018
Teetan also rode John Size’s only runner at the meeting, something that augurs well for his chances of success this season.
Given all the uncertainty within the jockeys ranks since the departure of Moreira, having support from two of Hong Kong’s leading stables is a huge asset.
“Once Joao left all those doors were open and I’m really glad that I’m able to ride for some big trainers like John [Size] and Tony,” Teetan said.
“It just gets your confidence going to ride some really nice horses.”
Teetan took out the feature with a well-rated front-running ride on Romantic Touch, taking advantage of the lack of pace in the five-horse field.
“I thought he had a great chance today, the field wasn’t strong and it was only small,” Cruz said.
“We all know he’s very good in front – if he’s able to dictate he has the advantage so we did it that way and everything turned out well.”
While Cruz and Teetan collected three winners together, they weren’t able to make it four when Pakistan Friend finished third to Hinyuen Swiftness in the Class Four Shantou Handicap (1,400m).
There was plenty of interest in the four-year-old after he followed in the footsteps of his superstar ownermate with a last-to-first win on debut, but Cruz says while he is a nice enough horse, he is not on the same level as Pakistan Star.
“Pakistan Friend, I think he’s a bit immature, he will slowly improve,” he said.
“But he’s not a high-class horse like Pakistan Star.”
Teetan also jumped aboard the Size-trained Aerohappiness in the last race, but the $1.90 favourite could only manage third as Tony Millard’s High Five (Grant van Niekerk) and Lucky Guy ran over the top of him.
“He will just need time to get stronger,” Teetan said.
“It was his first run [of the season] and he’s a very big horse – he’s still learning. I’m pretty sure he will improve.”