Tony Cruz believes his promising sprinter Computer Patch might be a straight-track specialist as he attempts to get to the bottom of what happened in his flat Hong Kong Sprint run.
The four-year-old has often threatened to breakthrough and become one of Hong Kong’s top sprinters but has found ways to get beaten, which is reflected in his record of four wins and four seconds in 12 starts.
Heading into the Group Three Bauhinia Sprint Trophy (1,000m) at Sha Tin on Friday, Cruz thinks he may have found the answer.
“I believe he’s only a 1,000m horse – I think 1,200m has always been a bit too far for him, in this class and especially in the Group races,” he said. “But I think 1,000m is perfect for him.”
While he was far from disgraced when running sixth in the Hong Kong Sprint – his first attempt at Group One level – Cruz could not help but be disappointed by his performance where he was sent out a $9 chance.
In that race he was beaten home by Hong Kong-based rivals Jolly Banner, Rattan, Wishful Thinker and Fat Turtle.
With the master trainer often preferring his horses to race on speed, Cruz was disappointed to see Computer Patch settle midfield in the run from his wide barrier.
“Well, he had quite a wide draw [barrier 11] and he wasn’t where I expected him to be [in running], up the front,” he said.
Forced to carry 133 pounds, Computer Patch will have to emulate subsequent Royal Ascot Group One winner Little Bridge and multiple Hong Kong Group One winner Scintillation as the only horses to lug the top weight to victory in the 20-year history of the race.
It has been dominated by lightweight runners in recent times with the likes of Big Party, Jolly Banner, Premiere, Rad, Divine Ten, Sweet Sanette and Craig’s Dragon all carrying less than 120 pounds to victory in the past decade.
While acknowledging the task at hand for Computer Patch, Cruz is undeterred by the prospect of carrying the proverbial grandstand.
“Well, that [weight] is an issue but I believe 1,000m should suit the horse,” he said. “I’m very happy with him and obviously he’s the likely favourite and, with Joao Moreira riding, he should
have every chance.
“He’s fantastic. He’s very good, very healthy and a very sound horse.”
Computer Patch’s exploits over the straight 1,000m course were on display earlier this season when he demolished his rivals in the Group Three National Day Cup.
While he only carried 117 pounds on the occasion, the result was never in doubt as the son of
Exceed And Excel coasted to victory.
Friday marks a big day for Cruz with the handler looking to kick off 2021 with a boom by taking 11 horses to the races.
The 64-year-old will also saddle up Ka Ying Star and Buddies in the Group Three Chinese Club Challenge Cup (1,400m) along with Circuit Three and Packing Waltham in the Class Two Chinese Banyan Handicap (1,600m).