Cruz Runners Passing on Dubai


Exultant (left) winning the HK Vase in December | Horsephotos


Both Exultant (Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}) and TDN Rising Star‘ Pakistan Star (Ger) (Shamardal) have proven themselves at the top level, the former having become just the third locally based horse to win the G1 Longines Hong Kong Vase (2400m) last December, while Pakistan Star took out the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2000m) and G1 Champions and Chater Cup (2400m) last season.

But don’t expect to see them on taking on overseas targets anytime soon.

Trainer Tony Cruz confirmed Tuesday that both would focus on a domestic campaign for the balance of the season, ruling out an appearance at the Dubai World Cup meeting Mar. 30. Both will represent the stable in this weekend’s G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin.

“We’ll target the races we have here in Hong Kong and he’s in excellent shape for the Hong Kong Gold Cup, he’s the form horse,” Cruz told the HKJC’s David Morgan, referring to Exultant, who took advantage of a perfect set-up to add the G3 Centenary Vase H. (1800m) Jan. 27. “I think we’d better stay here because he’ll likely lose a lot of weight going there and coming back, and as he’s not a good doer, we don’t want to risk it. Next year, when he’s stronger and more mature, then we’ll look at going over there for the [G1] Sheema Classic.”

Pakistan Star has yet to return to the form which saw him annex the two late-season features last spring, but Cruz is optimistic heading into the weekend. Tommy Berry, who was in the saddle for the championship-clinching victory in the Champions and Chater, jets in from Australia to ride.

“The sparkle is still there,” he told Morgan. “I’m very happy with the horse. This time he’s in better shape and we’ve got some good leaders in the race, so the pace should be on, which would suit him perfectly.

Cruz will also send out Time Warp (GB) (Archipenko) in defence of his Gold Cup title from 12 months ago, when he became the first to break the two-minute mark for the metric mile and a quarter.

“He needs everything his way. It’s the same story, he’ll lead the race and if he runs his best race he wins,” Cruz said.


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