The spotlight has shone on Pakistan Star ever since his Internet-rocking debut two and a half years ago, but this week, the biggest of all in Hong Kong’s horse racing year, the mercurial one has been unusually peripheral.
Pakistan Star has gone about his regular routine without hoopla; a warm-up in the trotting ring, a canter on the dirt track – each day in company with his fellow LONGINES Hong Kong International Races-bound workmates, Time Warp, Exultant, Beauty Only and Winner’s Way. All under the watch of Tony Cruz, a man with nine wins as a trainer at the G1 spectacular.
The handler has – as normal – pedalled his bicycle from his stable block, to the sand yard, to the trainers’ observation stand; back and forth to watch his yard’s 60-odd horses go out in small strings. And while the event’s overseas raiders have wooed the press pack at large, Cruz is content with what Pakistan Star has shown him ahead of Sunday’s (9 December) G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m).
“I’m very happy with him, he looks a real stayer now and his draw in gate two is ideal,” the trainer said as he rested upon his bike’s left pedal and shifted upright in the saddle. “I think the Japanese mare – Crocosmia – drawn one, is a front runner, so that could be perfect because I need something to lead him.”
Cruz does not want a repeat of the five-year-old’s last run, an 18-length eighth of nine in the G2 Jockey Club Cup (2000m). Hurried forward early, three wide outside the duelling brothers Time Warp and Glorious Forever, the powerful gelding failed to settle and was a spent force in the home straight.