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Tony Cruz notches Happy Valley treble to continue hot streak
International News: By: Leo Schlink
May 8 , 2024

Tony Cruz’s accelerating advance in the Hong Kong trainers’ championship continued in blistering fashion with a Happy Valley treble on Wednesday night (8 May) when the veteran horseman vaulted into the top four of the 2023/24 standings.

With six wins from three meetings this month, Cruz has built impressive momentum in a season highlighted by California Spangle’s pair of Group 1 victories to have 43 wins for the campaign to sit behind Pierre Ng (58 wins), Francis Lui (53) and John Size (44).

Cruz struck with Atomic Beauty, Lovero and Righteous Arion after saddling a double at Sha Tin on Sunday (5 May) crowned by La City Blanche’s triumph in the G3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup Handicap (2400m) over stablemate Five G Patch.

Cruz teamed successfully with a trio of different riders tonight – Hugh Bowman (Righteous Arion), Brenton Avdulla (Atomic Beauty) and Angus Chung (Lovero) – and the six-time Hong Kong champion jockey was delighted with all three.

“I'm very happy tonight. All the jockeys rode a good race, especially Brenton Avdulla. I told him to have the horse handy and he went to the front and he still won from the front. I'm thrilled by it,” Cruz said.

Chung, Avdulla and Harry Bentley enjoyed doubles, while Douglas Whyte fired in a brace.

Delighted with Japanese-bred Lovero’s victory in the Class 3 Graham Handicap (1650m), Cruz praised Chung’s continued development after the recently-graduated apprentice lifted the son of Lord Kanaloa to a short-head victory.

“Angus Chung is doing a good job, this lad is improving a lot, he’s getting results and we can see how he’s improving – this boy is improving a lot,” Cruz said.

Hugh Bowman attributed Righteous Arion’s victory in the Class 4 Sports Club Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup Handicap (1200m) to a gear change after Cruz’s charge swept to a third career success.

“He drew wide (barrier 12), but I got a lot of confidence out of him last time and I thought if we took the ear muffs off him in the race, it might help him to be strong late and that was certainly the case,” Bowman said.

“He promised to do it last time but I had a wider run and he found his peak. But a little gear change and being smothered up for a late burst really suited him.”


Douglas Whyte was elated after Wings Of War’s triumph in the Class 3 Shelley Handicap (1200m) for eminent South African owner Mary Slack.

“That’s probably the most satisfying winner I’ve had this season,” Whyte said. “It means a lot for the owner Mary, her daughter Jessica (Jell) and Stephen Jell. It’s been an unbelievable connection for me, I’ve known them my whole career.

“To get a winner on the board for them as a trainer, it’s a highlight of my career. Mary, Jessica and Stephen have been so good to me. When I was waiting to start my training career in Hong Kong, they let me stay in their house at Newmarket for three months. They are fantastic people.”

Whyte’s Ace Power showed plenty of conviction to win in a dramatic finish to the first section of the Class 4 Wyndham Handicap (1200m) for Andrea Atzeni. A three-year-old by Power, the gelding was having only his third start.

“He’s threatened to do that for a while – he’s been very immature and green and just needed the experience from a couple of runs to get used to Hong Kong racing, the pressure and the environment,” Whyte said.

“Today, he really laid down the gauntlet, showed some tenacity and came between them and really won well.”

Manfred Man’s Hero Star posted his fifth course and distance win with success in the Class 5 Cochrane Handicap (1200m) after the eight-year-old dictated from the front under Chung before New Power provided Michael Chang with a vital win in the third section of the Class 4 Wyndham Handicap (1200m) under Karis Teetan.

Precision Goal broke through at his 18th start to land the Class 5 D’Aguilar Handicap (1650m) for David Hayes. Having raced close to the speed throughout, the Tavistock gelding was too strong over the closing stages under Bentley.

Escape Route notched his second course and distance victory – and fourth overall – for Size in the Class 4 Glenealy Handicap (1800m) after Avdulla stalked Forever Glorious and Teetan before eventually prevailing by a short head.

Hong Kong racing will continue at Sha Tin on Saturday (11 May).

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