Attempting to fill a rare gap in a spectacular Hong Kong riding resume, Zac Purton will be entrusted with the task of managing California Spangle’s natural speed to meet the stamina challenge presented by the HK$12 million Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (27 February).
A five-time winner from 1000m-1200m, California Spangle was caught late by Romantic Warrior in the Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) on 30 January at his first attempt beyond six furlongs in a performance crammed with class and determination.
Ridden by Matthew Chadwick on that occasion, California Spangle has Purton – fresh from a Happy Valley four-timer and seeking his first win in the Hong Kong Classic Cup – in the saddle on Sunday and trainer Tony Cruz is keen to use the bay’s speed from barrier six to lead before controlling the tempo.
“He’s got that speed all the time – he’s the fastest horse in the race – and we can’t restrain him too much,” said Cruz, who last won the Classic Cup with Floral Pegasus and Gerald Mosse in 2007.
“Hopefully California Spangle can get a nice run and he won’t have to deal with too much pressure. He’s in great shape and I’m very happy with him, everything that we have planned for has gone according to plan.
“Condition-wise, I can’t fault him right now. Everything has gone to what we wanted, so let’s see how he handles 1800 metres now.”