Tony Cruz has many fond memories of Macau and he hopes Romantic Touch can add to the list with a third straight victory in the Macau Hong Kong Trophy (1,500m) on Sunday.
The eight-year-old thrives on the Taipa track and Cruz is itching to return to a place that holds a special place in his heart.
“I love Macau and the racing there. The treatment we get from the Macau Jockey Club is fantastic,” he said.
“I really enjoy myself in Macau, I enjoyed riding in Macau and now training there. I was invited to ride by the Macau Jockey Club and I rode three winners in a day once.”
Romantic Touch enters the race on the back of a solid third behind Exultant in the Group Three Centenary Vase (1,800m) on January 27 and Cruz expects him to be at his best on Sunday.
“He seems to love the Macau track. He likes the give in the ground, that’s why,” Cruz said. “Age is catching up with him but hopefully he can pull it off again.
“He is very fit and well, in his last run he finished third over 1,800m and I think the 1,800m is a bit far for him actually, he is really a miler. I’ve heard there is going to be give in the ground, a yielding track will suit him perfectly.”
While Sunday’s race could have plenty of similarities to the past two editions, the day will be unique in another sense for Cruz, who is looking forward to using the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge for the first time.
“This time we are going in a car, I’ve never been on the bridge so we are going to drive there,” he said.
Romantic Touch is one of four Hong Kong horses in the race, with Francis Lui Kin-wai’s Born In China, the Richard Gibson-trained Litterateur and Dennis Yip Chor-hong’s Horse Of Fortune also in the race.
Joao Moreira will ride Romantic Touch, while Silvestre de Sousa (Horse Of Fortune), Umberto Rispoli (Born In China) and Matthew Chadwick (Litterateur) are also making the trip.
The annual interport race, which is for horses trained in Hong Kong and Macau, is a Macau Group One and there is return fixture at Sha Tin later in the season.
Moreira was in the saddle for Romantic Touch’s victory last season, while Zac Purton was aboard in 2017, and the horse has drawn nicely in barrier four.
Romantic Touch’s sole victories in each of the past two seasons have come in this race but the horse is already on the board this term, saluting in a Class One at Sha Tin in September.
Litterateur also enters the race in strong form, finishing second in a Class One last month and taking out a Class Two in December, with Chadwick in the saddle on both occasions.