Cruz straight into the deep end with Group One bid

Just a month after having his first starter as a trainer Trevor Cruz is already chasing a Group One dream.

Cruz (31), the son of former successful jockey and leading Hong Kong trainer Derek Cruz and nephew of Tony Cruz, will saddle up Packing Tycoon in the $200,000 Haunui Farm Group One WFA Classic at Otaki today.

Packing Tycoon credited Cruz with his first training success when scoring an easy win at Te Rapa three weeks ago and it was just a couple of weeks earlier that he had his first starter, Aberdeen, who finished third at Te Rapa.

Aberdeen went on to be placed again and Cashfield was also a placegetter for Cruz before Packing Tycoon scored his fresh-up win. Cashfield has since well for Cruz and impressed rider Opie Bosson, who believes he has a bright future.

Bosson was also aboard Packing Tycoon in his first-up win but a suspension has ruled him out of riding this weekend and the mount in the Otaki feature has gone to Jason Jago.

“Jason has trialled the horse twice and knows him very well,” Cruz told NZTM. “Heading into a Group race, I’d rather go with a jockey who knows the horse.”

Packing Tycoon faces a big jump from a Rating 85 win to the Group One line-up, but he is no stranger to taking on major races.

The son of Danehill Dancer began his career in Ireland from the stable of Aidan O’Brien and, under the name of Alexander Pope, he won three races, including a Group Three at The Curragh. He followed that important win with a third in the Gr. 2 King Edward III Stakes at Royal Ascot as a three-year-old behind Nathaniel (later a winner of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes – Britain’s best weight-for-age 2400-metre race ) and Fiorente, winner of last year’s Melbourne Cup and runner-up the previous year.

Packing Tycoon then joined Tony Cruz’ team and, though unable to win in Hong Kong, he did pick up a couple of placings.

“He didn’t acclimatise that well over there and had a few issues,” said Cruz. “Fortunately, when he was retired from racing in Hong Kong, he was sent to me to train.”

Cruz couldn’t have wished for a better start to his training career with two wins and three placings from five starts and he has impressed Bosson. “He knows what he is doing,” said Bosson. “He’s doing a great job with his horses.”

Cruz will also be represented at Otaki today by New Greenfield, who is another ex-Hong Kong horse to be ridden by Jago.

New Greenfield was prepared by Cruz’s father and was a winner at Sha Tin in December 2012. Like Packing Tycoon, he began his career in England and shaped up in good company. He won at Newbury then in a Group Three 1400 metres at York before finishing third in the Gr. 2 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster and an even more notable fourth in the Gr. 1 Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket in October 2010.

The winner of the Dewhurst Stakes that year was the unbeaten champion Frankel, who finished three and a half lengths ahead of New Greenfield.