Racing

It's a dream team in Hong Kong

Jockey Karis Teetan teams up with trainer Tony Cruz to snare a treble

There is a new partnership brewing in Hong Kong racing. It involves jockey Karis Teetan and trainer Tony Cruz, and it's already creating quite a buzz.

You could say it all began when Romantic Touch carried off the Class 1 Kwangtung Handicap Cup at the Sha Tin Racecourse on Sunday afternoon. It went on to ignite a three-win spree for a new alliance.

Teetan, third in the jockeys' premiership last term and touted as a potential title contender this time around, teamed up with two-time champion trainer and Hong Kong hero Cruz to snare Races 2, 3 and 4 on the 10-contest card.

After a confident catch-me-if-you-can score on Romantic Touch in the feature, Teetan drove the Cruz-trained up-and-comer Circuit Number Two to a narrow verdict in the Class 3 Dongguan Handicap and the dynamic duo completed a hat-trick in the next with Supreme Witness.

That tally represented two more wins than the pairing enjoyed in the whole of last season when Teetan had 12 rides for the Cruz stable, the last of which, back in June, yielded a Group 3 success with California Whip.

The Mauritian lightweight arrived at the track without a win in the season's opening two fixtures but there was no evidence of wilting confidence.

Teetan's handling of Romantic Touch inferred the opposite, in fact, marching to the lead and then winding up to hold off race favourite Rattan by 3/4 lengths.

"Romantic Touch is a tough little horse," said the rider.

"When I trialled him, I was very happy with him. Even though a couple of other horses were fancied, I knew that if I could get him into position and enjoy a nice run, then he'd let down for me. Tony had him spot-on."

Cruz is looking towards the Group 3 Celebration Cup over 1,400m on Oct 1 as the eight-year-old's likely next target.

"Karis rode a perfect race on the lead," said the handler. "This horse is very fit and his trial was really good, so I expected him to run well. He'll go to the Group 3. There's nothing else for him, really."

Teetan, too, has his focus on loftier prizes in the months to come after ending the day alongside champion Zac Purton and new arrival, Grant Van Niekerk, and one behind Vincent Ho at the top of the leaderboard.

"It's early days," said Teetan. "The first two meetings were quiet but I just put my head down and kept working harder and I knew that I had a few nice rides coming up.

"This support from Tony has boosted my confidence, he's a great idol in Hong Kong, people love him here and he knows so much about the racing. Looking forward, there are bigger things ahead."

Those bigger things, Teetan hopes, will feature Cruz's stable superstar, Pakistan Star.

The Sha Tin hat-trick grabbing partnership arrived on the heels of the pre-season news that the rider will steer owner Kerm Din's Group 1 winner this term. - HKJC

HORSE RACING