Tony Cruz’s enigmatic duo of Pakistan Star and Time Warp have both been given the green light to compete in next week’s Longines Hong Kong International Races after they passed crucial barrier trials on Friday morning.
The pair had both been barred from racing after tailing out to finish a combined 40 lengths last in the Group Two Jockey Club Cup (2,000m) earlier this month.
Trialling against the likes of gun sprinters Hot King Prawn and Beat The Clock over 1,200m on the all-weather track, concerns were raised that they may not finish within the required 10 lengths needed to pass the barrier trial.
Jockeys Vincent Ho Chak-yiu and Zac Purton put any fears to rest however, ensuring both finished in the leading group.
Time Warp will be out to defend his crown in the Group One Hong Kong Cup (2,000m) and Cruz has issued a warning to his rival, full brother Glorious Forever, saying neither horse will run the trip if he attempts to go toe-to-toe with his galloper.
The veteran trainer was scathing of the tactics used by jockey Joao Moreira in the Jockey Club Cup, labelling it a “stupid race” after declaring it was lead or bust for Time Warp.
“They will die off [if they battle for speed], and whoever chases them will die off as well,” Cruz said.
“We are going to stick to the same type of racing.”
Pakistan Star showed he would be a force to be reckoned with in the Group One Hong Kong Vase (2,400m) after running on strongly to win the trial.
Cruz confirmed the booking of globetrotting jockey William Buick, saying the horse would not be ridden the same as he was last start.
“Sit quietly in a rhythm and just wait, don’t chase them like last time, he was too fired up then you have to try and settle him down, he was pulling, going too keenly so he ran upside down,” Cruz said.
Despite the force that is Pakistan Star, he might not be Cruz’s best chance in the Vase, as he also saddles up the in-form Exultant, who outran both Time Warp and Pakistan Star in his impressive second placing in the Jockey Club Cup.
Cruz was impressed with how much the horse has improved this season after showing what he was capable of towards the back end of last season when he ran second behind Pakistan Star in the Group One Champions & Chater Cup (2,400m).
“Exultant is the other one that is coming up, he is definitely improving and is a much better, stronger horse this year. I definitely give him a big chance in this race, 2,400m is perfect for him,” he said.
Meanwhile, John Size’s army of speedsters are all on track for their assault on the Group One Hong Kong Sprint (1,200m) after solid hit-outs from his four gallopers on Friday.
Hot King Prawn and Beat The Clock ran under strong holds in the first batch of trials while Ivictory showed he might have found some of his old form when he went stride-for-stride with D B Pin and Frankie Lor Fu-chuen’s Mr Stunning.
Size also confirmed his rider line up, with Ryan Moore booked to ride Beat The Clock and Christophe Lemaire jumping aboard Ivictory, alongside Joao Moreira on Hot King Prawn and Sam Clipperton with D B Pin.