‘Blazing Speed’ gave trainer Tony Cruz a rare first when causing a minor upset in the HK$20 million Group 1 Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin Racecourse on April 26. The Hong Kong legend had never managed to lift the prestigious Cup in his current capacity, although he did win the race as a jockey. It was also a first win in the race for Callan. The Irishman, who is enjoying his best ever Hong Kong season, gave what is becoming his trademark victory salute to the crowd: standing high in the stirrups, the rider roared with delight and pumped his fist as he swept past the post two lengths clear of a blanket finish for the minors. Japan’s Staphanos edged second by a short-head from Australian raider Criterion. It was a nose back to last year’s winner Designs On Rome and the same again to fifth-placed Packing Llaregyb.
“I’ve been trying very hard to win this race… I managed to do it a few times as a jockey but to do it now as a trainer, I’m very happy about it. I told Neil (Callan) to ride a very patient race, get in midfield, find cover and wait for the straight. He rode a perfect race.” said trainer Tony Cruz.
The 2013 winner, Military Attack, vied for the lead at the top of the stretch but faded to finish seventh. Britain’s Red Cadeaux was 11th and the French raider Smoking Sun finished 10th of 12. The day’s attendance was 31,943, an increase of 5 per cent on 2014, while turnover was the same as last year at HK$1,345 million.
“This afternoon’s APQEII Cup was a very exciting race featuring top-class international contenders and the result speaks for itself with Blazing Speed an impressive winner, the Japanese horse finishing second, the Australian horse third and Designs On Rome fourth. Looking at the ratings it is a satisfactory result for a race that is one of the top 20 Group 1 races in the world. The APQEII Cup’s elite position as an international race has been enhanced this afternoon. Today’s occasion shows that our vision of bringing international racing to Hong Kong is firmly on track. This year’s APQEII Cup was the 17th edition of the race under the Audemars Piguet banner. It has been a tremendous partnership and we are pleased that it will continue as we have extended our collaboration with Audemars Piguet through 2018″ said the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Chief Executive Officer, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges.