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Weather poser for Cruz ahead of G1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup

Aiming for an extraordinary eighth victory in the HK$13 million G1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (26 May), Tony Cruz is concerned how La City Blanche and Five G Patch will handle potentially rain-affected conditions.

With seven wins from 2013 to 2020, Cruz has dominated the final Group 1 of the Hong Kong season but his hopes of clinching another win in the race are tempered by the possibility of more rain over the next three days.

“It's the last Group 1 race of the season and if you have a stayer, this is the race you want to win. It's 2400m and I like training horses for this kind of distance,” the dual Hong Kong champion trainer said.

“La City Blanche likes it better on a firm track and if we're on soft ground, it might not suit him. Five G Patch, I think he can handle either soft or firm, but I'd prefer him to be on a good track.”

La City Blanche landed the G3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup Handicap earlier this month; picture hkjc.com

Former Argentine galloper La City Blanche posted his most significant Hong Kong win with victory in the G3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup Handicap (2400m) on 5 May, defeating stablemate Five G Patch by a nose.

Three other runners engaged in the Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup — Moments in Time (fourth), Russian Emperor (seventh) and Senor Toba (11th) — finished behind Cruz’s pair last-start.

Matthew Chadwick retains the ride on La City Blanche, who will start from barrier seven, while Five G Patch will jump from gate five under Harry Bentley.

Bidding for a third consecutive victory in the race, Russian Emperor has drawn barrier one, while Charlie Appleby-trained Rebel’s Romance will begin from gate eight under William Buick.

Likely leader Moments In Time will start from gate six for Lyle Hewitson, while Caspar Fownes-trained Straight Arron has drawn barrier two under Vincent Ho with stablemate Senor Toba slated to start from gate three for Andrea Atzeni.

With two Group 1s this season through California Spangle — the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m) and the Al Quoz Sprint (1200m) in Dubai — Cruz has already had an exceptional season.

His previous Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup wins as a trainer came with California Memory (2013), Blazing Speed (2014 and 2016), Helene Super Star (2015), Pakistan Star (2018) and Exultant (2019 and 2020).

Bidding to become the first overseas-trained horse to win the Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup, Rebel’s Romance galloped on Sha Tin’s turf track this morning (Thursday, 23 May) under exercise rider Marc Halford, clocking 1m 01.02s and quickening over the final 400m in 26.1s.

The winner of four international Group 1s — his most recent triumph came over star-studded opposition in the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic (2410m) on 30 March at Meydan Racecourse — Rebel’s Romance was also given Parade Ring schooling at Sha Tin today.

Sha Tin’s 10-race card on Sunday (26 May) starts at 12.45pm with the Pakistan Star Plate (1000m) for Griffins.

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