Brothers celebrate first stakes win with Fay Fay

 

Trevor and Martin Cruz with the cup to celebrate their first stakes win at Tauranga today. (Photo: Kenton Wright, Race Images).

Trevor and Martin Cruz with the cup to celebrate their first stakes win at Tauranga today. (Photo: Kenton Wright, Race Images).

 

Martin and Trevor Cruz pulled off a fine training feat when they gained their first stakes win with Fay Fay in the Gr. 2 $100,000 Stella Artois Tauranga Stakes at Tauranga.

Fay Fay was by far the biggest earner in the weight-for-age 1600-metre feature, having won more than $2.4 million in Hong Kong. The son of Falkirk had won or been runner-up in nine of his first 10 starts (he was also fourth in the Gr. 1 Hong Kong Classic Cup) when trained by John Size and ended his Hong Kong career with a record of six wins and nine placings from 23 starts.

But the 2012 Gr. 1 Hong Kong Derby winner hadn’t raced since being unplaced in the Gr. 1 Champions & Chater Cup at Sha Tin in May last year and he went into today’s race with just one 950-metre trial, at Cambridge a few weeks ago.

The Cruz brothers had, however, put plenty of varied work into the seven-year-old and they got their dream result when Fay Fay, ridden by Mark Sweeney, came from well back to dive through and grab the honours by a half-length from Julinsky Prince with the favourite I Do third.

It was a big task going 1600 metres first-up but we expected him to run well,” said Martin Cruz (28), who joined his older brother, Trevor (33) in partnership earlier this season.

“He’s had leg problems and we couldn’t train him on the track so we took a different approach with him. He’s done a lot of slow work.

“It’s a big thrill to win this.”

Initially Fay Fay was sent back to New Zealand, where he was bred by Wanganui couple Peter and Barbara Smith and originally sold at Karaka in 2009 for $13,000, to spell with a view of possibly returning to Hong Kong. But his owned changed plans and left him with the Cruz brothers at Cambridge.

“Two and a-half months ago we considered retiring him – even getting him to the races is a victory in itself,” said Trevor Cruz. “We completely re-worked his training regime so as not to pressure his joints and we have to be very careful with what we can and can’t do with him.”

Trevor Cruz, who is in his second season of training, treated today’s win as a bonus.

“We didn’t really have any expectations with him here as he hadn’t raced for a year and a-half, but we did have him relatively fit and he is a class horse,” he said.

“To be honest, when horses return from Hong Kong it’s either because of injury or they’re not competitive anymore.

“We were actually using this race as a lead-up to the Zabeel Classic so he has exceeded all our expectations.”

Fay Fay is the second winner for the Cruz brothers’ partnership, which is continuing a fine strike rate. Horses from their stable have had eight starts this season for two wins, a second, a third, a fourth and two fifths. Their other runner today was New Greenfield, who finished fifth to Needlly in the previous event.

Sweeney was full of praise for Fay Fay and thrilled to be part of the big-race success for the Cruz brothers, sons of Hong Kong trainer Derek Cruz.

“My agent picked up the ride for me and I went through some of his Hong Kong races before today to find out more about him and how he races,” said Sweeney. “I watched his Derby win and that gave me some confidence.

“They (the Cruz brothers) were keen to have him off the rail and told me he likes a bit of room to wind up.”

Fay Fay settled back and with 600 metres Sweeney was feeling quietly confident.

“He was travelling sweetly but then he went flat. I cut back in down the straight and he won easily in the end.

“You can tell what a good horse he was. He’s clearly still got a lot of ability and the will to win.”