Exultant imposed his authority on his local rivals and moved a step closer to a night in Dubai with a solid success in the G3 Centenary Vase Handicap at Sha Tin this afternoon (Monday, 27 January).
Hong Kong’s champion stayer carried top-weight of 133lb to secure his second win in the 1800m contest and now takes aim at a follow-up in the G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) in three weeks’ time. After that, trainer Tony Cruz has designs on the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic (2410m) at Meydan.
“Next race will be the Hong Kong Gold Cup and then we’ll decide whether we go to Dubai or not,” Cruz confirmed post-race. “I’m expecting to go because he’s not getting any younger and I think we’d better make a move and go to Dubai with him.
“I believe he can do something in Dubai, I believe he can prove himself and win that race. His form is good – it shows that he’s right up there with the best.”
Cruz was full of praise for Hong Kong’s Champion Stayer after what jockey Zac Purton described as a “dour” performance over a distance short of his optimum.
“He outclassed his field today,” the handler said. “I don’t think there was any outstanding opposition and I was expecting him to win.
“He’s turned into a very professional racehorse; he waits on the jockey to make the move. Zac knows this horse so well and he knows how to use his ability and that’s half the battle won really.”