The renaissance of the Tony Cruz-trained Pakistan Star continued in style at Sha Tin today (Sunday, 27 May) as arguably the most popular horse in this part of the world – certainly the most discussed – capped his topsy-turvy season with a comfortable win in the G1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m).
Gone, for now, are the days of the roguish Pakistan Star; the 2016 Hong Kong International Sale graduate gave his supporters arguably their easiest watch yet. Settling second, never more than three lengths off Exultant’s even tempo, jockey Tommy Berry tracked up ominously on the bend as his four rivals resorted to a vigorous drive.
Indeed, upon straightening, the result never really appeared in doubt. Sweeping to the lead at the 300m, Pakistan Star looked the winner a long way from home, and while the dazzling turn-of-foot that he had displayed in his last-start win in the G1 Audemars Piguet QEII Cup (2000m) wasn’t there, in its place was a clear class edge over his rivals that saw him assert his superiority.
At the line, Pakistan Star held a margin of one and three-quarter lengths over Exultant, with Gold Mount flying from last, as is his want, to finish third, four and a half lengths from the winner. For Cruz, it was just as he had hoped and predicted – a one-two-three for his stable.
“He’s always been a horse – in his training, trials and races – who has needed a target to run at,” Cruz said. “I was worried when Time Warp came out of the race because I thought he might need to end up on the lead, but Exultant had showed last time that he could race forward and so he was able to go out and take it up. Today, everything worked out according to plan.”
Berry was taking his first raceday ride on Pakistan Star, having been aboard in two barrier trials, and the Australian jockey said that he was confident throughout the HK$10 million feature.