Etching his name deeper into Hong Kong racing lore, Tony Cruz is only the third trainer to prepare 1,400 winners or more in the jurisdiction after the legendary figure joined John Moore and John Size in a select band with Circuit Nine’s success at Sha Tin on Sunday (22 May).
Bolstering his reputation as Hong Kong’s greatest local horseman, Cruz reached the landmark in perfect fashion as his former apprentice Matthew Chadwick piloted unbeaten Circuit Nine to success in a race named in honour of one of Cruz’s many champions – the Pakistan Star Plate (1200m) for Griffins.
Taking his tally of combined winners as a trainer and jockey to 2,347 (1,401 as a trainer, 946 as a jockey) with a double, Cruz remains a towering figure on the Hong Kong racing landscape as a six-time champion rider and dual champion trainer. Only Moore (1,735) and Size (1,404) have saddled more winners in a relentlessly competitive environment.
“It’s always an achievement. I’m hopefully expecting to break some records in Hong Kong and make some history, too,” Cruz, 65, said after Circuit Nine’s success. “If you count the amount of winners I’ve had in Hong Kong as a jockey and trainer, it would be 2,346 – but I’ve been here the longest, too.
“Racing is part of my life. I love doing this business – it’s the only thing I know. Circuit Nine was the raging 1.2 favourite, so I expected him to win.”
The son of Johnny Cruz, an esteemed rider during Hong Kong’s amateur racing days, Cruz started his association with the Hong Kong Jockey Club in 1972, when he was among the first intake of jockeys to the Hong Kong Jockey Club Apprentice Jockeys’ School.
With 56 victories this season after Five G Patch’s victory in the Class 3 Exultant Handicap (2000m) – another race celebrating one of his former champions – Cruz trails only Frankie Lor (74) and John Size (74) in the battle for the 2021/22 trainers’ championship.