Cruz saddles three winners, two ridden by Aldo Domeyer
Jockey Aldo Domeyer showed a sharp pair of heels to his fellow jockeys when winning the annual jockeys' sprint relay race at last Saturday's Pre-season Carnival, and he made a fast start to his season with a double at Sha Tin on Sunday afternoon.
The South African rode a fairly impressive 13 wins during a late-season contract and continued that momentum with a race-to-race brace for trainer Tony Cruz.
California Gungho's win in the Class 4 Ma On Shan Handicap over 1,200m was straightforward but Domeyer had to survive an objection before Sunshine Warrior's win was confirmed in the Class 4 Kowloon Peak Handicap over 1,400m.
"The jockey made a mistake in the last 100 metres, he put his head down and the horse drifted, but he was going on too strongly anyway," said Cruz.
"He will see his mistake and he'll improve on it, I'm sure of that - I'm sure he can be successful here."
Cruz bagged a treble when the Alfred Chan-ridden Multimillion took the Class 3 Lantau Peak Handicap over 1,000m.
"My horses are in good form, they're fit and forward, I'm happy with them," said Cruz.
Trainer Richard Gibson's Gold Chest arrived from Britain last term with a sizeable reputation.
The well-bred War Front gelding, known as Naval Intelligence pre-import, was unable to measure up to expectations when down the field in both the BMW Hong Kong Derby and Hong Kong Classic Cup.
But Gibson has been based at Sha Tin long enough to know that a failed four-year-old classic campaign can still be the springboard to a successful Hong Kong career.
The bay finally broke his local duck at his eighth start in the Class 2 Tai Mo Shan Handicap over 1,400m and he did it in some style under jockey Derek Leung.
"It was a cool ride from Derek and we've got an exciting horse to work with this year," Gibson said.
"You can't hide my disappointment from last season. Of course, we expected better from the horse, but like many horses from Europe, with one preparation under their belt they improve the next year.
"It was a comfortable win today, I think the horse will increase in distance and I think he will continue to improve." - HKJC