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Gray in good spirits ahead of Cruiser's HK Sprint raid

Lim’s Cruiser has settled in very well in Hong Kong with trainer Stephen Gray having left no stone unturned ahead of his high-profile assignment in the HK$20 million Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) at Sha Tin on Sunday.

Gray in good spirits ahead of Cruiser's HK Sprint raid

Lim’s Cruiser has settled in very well in Hong Kong with trainer Stephen Gray having left no stone unturned ahead of his high-profile assignment in the HK$20 million Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) at Sha Tin on Sunday.

The Singapore champion sprinter and two-time Lion City Cup winner arrived in Hong Kong on Saturday and has been kept ticking over since.


Gray, who arrived in Hong Kong one day before, has been overseeing his precious charge’s prep since and couldn’t be happier with the way things have panned out thus far.

“Lim’s Cruiser is in very good shape. He came with Lizaz as travelling companion and that has been a big saviour,” said Gray.

“Mr Untung Joesoef was happy to let Lizaz go and come along, and I can’t thank him enough for that. It helped him settle in better.

“Lim’s Cruiser had a walk on Saturday, a trot on Sunday and a canter yesterday. He was a bit hot yesterday but he was a lot better this morning when he breezed up on the dirt.

“He did a three-quarter pace light gallop and pulled up in good order. (Apprentice jockey) Amirul (Ismadi) said he was great and handled the other way of going very well.”

Gray said the clockwise direction at Sha Tin is always a question mark but he had no real reasons to be concerned.

“He works that way all the time back home. Besides it’s a 1200m race, not a 2000m race where he has to go around two turns,” said the Kiwi horseman.

“The horse is ready. That last race (first-up win with Amirul astride in a Kranji Stakes A race over 1200m on November 20) has brought him on.

“If he wasn’t fit, we wouldn’t have bothered to bring him over. I didn’t want to do too much with him here.

“He’s bigger and stronger than at his last start, he’s happy and relaxed, both physically and mentally, eating and drinking well, even if it took him a while in the first day or two.

“He already had some condition before he left, so he lost just a little bit of weight, not much, and he’s already back to his normal weight now.”

Gray is aware that the eight-time winner (1100m to 1600m, with last four coming over 1200m) will be taking on the cream of the sprinting crop from both Hong Kong (likely favourite Hot King Prawn, last year’s winner Mr Stunning, Beat The Clock) and from around the world (Fine Needle from Japan and Sir Dancealot from England), but is above all proud to fly the Singapore flag.

“The local horses are very good and they have the home ground advantage, and they also race the other way,” he said.

“But we’re very proud to be here with a horse on this prestigious world stage. We’ve had massive coverage since we’ve been here and it’s an honour to be here and do Singapore proud on Sunday, whatever he does.”

As an extra measure to have all his ducks in a row, Gray has taken no chances by booking one of the safest pairs of hands in the world, Hugh Bowman.

“Glen Boss was semi-booked, but in the end Mr Lim (Siah Mong) and I discussed and he wanted the best available,” said Gray who was at his second overseas raid after Emperor Max ran creditably (seventh to Muhaarar) in the QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes (1200m) at Ascot in 2015.

“Joao (Moreira) already had a ride (Hot King Prawn). We then asked Hughy and he didn’t have one, so we’re glad to have him on Lim’s Cruiser.

“The draw is tomorrow, and as we know, he loves the rails. A bit of rain won’t hurt his chances either.

“Mr Lim has been a big supporter of racing and a sponsor of our races as well. It’s important for him to have horses like these to travel overseas and represent the stable.

“That’s what it’s about. He pays the bills, he was very willing to let me go, and he’s all behind me to have a crack and he’s looking forward to it, he’s excited. Passion, that’s what it’s about, you need passion.”


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