Exultant Looks to ‘Cruz’ in Champions and Chater Cup

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Exultant | HKJC photo

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Just two trainers account for the seven runners signed on for Sunday’s final Group 1 of the season in Hong Kong, the Standard Chartered Champions and Chater Cup over the metric mile and a half. One of them, the legendary Tony Cruz, sends out the three top-rated runners, including Exultant (Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}), who–with a successful defence of his title–could earn front-runner status for local Horse of the Year.

As strong as even in 2019-2020, the 6-year-old was third when looking for the repeat in the G1 Longines Hong Kong Vase this past December, but has nevertheless won half of his six trips postward, including tough-as-teak defeat of stablemate Furore (NZ) (Pierro {Aus}) in the G1 FWD QE II Cup (2000m) Apr. 26. While Exultant is some 11 pounds clear of Furore on ratings, Cruz is slightly worried about underfoot conditions Sunday afternoon.

“I don’t want a downpour, that’s my concern,” Cruz, looking for an eighth C&C in the last nine years, told the HKJC’s David Morgan. “As long as the track is good to firm, as normal, Exultant should win this race again. But I want that normal track!” he said.

John Moore sends out the balance of the field in his final Hong Kong Group 1 prior to his compulsory retirement at season’s end. Chefano (SAf) (Silvano {Ger}) got away with cheap sections in besting this year’s BMW Hong Kong Derby fourth Savvy Nine (Fr) (Anodin {Ire}) in the G3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup over course and distance May 3, but the latter is better backed to reverse placings with Joao Moreira back aboard. Eagle Way (Aus) (More Than Ready), third in this event in 2017, could be making the final appearance of his career, while fellow 7-year-old Helene Charisma (Fr) (Air Chief Marshal {Ire})–third to Chefano in the Queen Mother last time–rounds out the Moore foursome.

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