Trainer Tony Cruz has declared it is lead or bust for his talented galloper Time Warp ahead of a rematch with full brother Glorious Forever on Sunday.
Time Warp got the better of his younger brother Glorious Forever in a return to form last time around in the Group Three Ladies’ Purse Handicap (1,800m) despite giving up a 17-pound weight advantage, but is unlikely to be afforded the same luxuries while leading this time.
After finishing dead last in his previous three starts, Time Warp shocked punters when he won last month, finding form that many believed had deserted the dual Group One winner.
Cruz, however, was not surprised, saying the his horse had been running over unsuitable distances in the lead up to his defence of the Longines Hong Kong Cup.
“We all know he is at his best 2,000m and above,” Cruz said.
“He has to go to the front and he’s got the speed to go to the front and he’s a different horse when he does.
“All his races, he has to lead, there’s not one race he’s won coming from behind, even in the lower grades.
“So we’ve got to stick to the same plan and just roll along.”
Cruz explained Time Warp’s run of outs began after last season’s QE II Cup (2,000m) where he flopped as a $2.4 hot favourite, on the receiving end of a dominant Pakistan Star performance.
Big brother is watching you - and beating you! Time Warp responds to a perfect front-running ride from @zpurton and roars back to his best to hold younger sibling Glorious Forever in a dramatic Sa Sa Ladies' Purse. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/miKyl4SKoS— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) November 4, 2018
“The only day he did disappoint me, he pulled up with mucus, that was in the big race, QE II, then they failed him in the barrier trial when the jockey didn’t want to push the horse,” he said.
“If you look back in the past, I raced him on the dirt even when he was at a 83 rating, over 1,200m and he couldn’t even finish in the first four, even at 1,650m he couldn’t do it so he’s not a dirt horse.
“Testing horses like that on the dirt, it is just not accurate.”
With the Frankie Lor Fu-chuen-trained Glorious Forever again drawn outside Time Warp in Sunday’s Group Two BOCHK Jockey Club Cup (2,000m), Joao Moreira looks likely to press ahead and attempt to lead Time Warp despite being 12 pounds worse off while John Moore’s Werther will race close to the speed.
“I reckon for sure they’ll go after him but no matter what, mine is going to the front and everyone knows that,” Cruz said of Time Warp.
Jockey Zac Purton said while he was happy to see Time Warp show glimpses of his best ahead of next month’s HKIR meeting, there was still improvement to be had.
“It’s all about peaking at the right time, one horse of mine doesn’t have to improve [Beauty Generation] while the other horses I’ve got [Time Warp and Ivictory] have to come on a bit, so hopefully they can do that,” he said.
“Time Warp, he’s got to improve on what he did the other day and Ivictory obviously needs to improve a lot on what he did second up.
“Hopefully he can bowl along out there where he is comfortable. He’s not a sit and sprint type of horse, he likes to bowl along so we will let him do his thing.”