Tony Cruz believes Exultant could prove to be the best stayer Hong Kong has ever produced. That may be so, but the three-time G1 winner will have to win a second LONGINES Hong Kong Vase on Sunday (8 December) just to stake a claim for overall top status on the current scene.
The Irish import had the misfortune to arrive at Sha Tin just as Beauty Generation began to cast an imposing shadow across all pretenders to the high claim of being Hong Kong’s singular best.
There is no denying Beauty Generation’s outright champion status over the past two seasons – seven G1 wins, a 10-race undefeated streak, the all-time highest rating in Hong Kong history and so on – but two defeats in the lead-up to a potential third win in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) have ruffled his aura of invincibility.
Exultant, meanwhile, heads into a tilt at a second G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) victory off an impressive G2 Jockey Club Cup (2000m) score that, along with his domination of the 1800m-2400m realm last term, places him in the same bracket as the circuit’s outstanding stayers of yesteryear, Viva Pataca, Vengeance Of Rain and Designs On Rome.
“I think he’s as good as those horses, he could be better than those horses. I’ve got confidence in him,” Cruz said.