Kentucky-bred Bullish Luck stormed through late to snatch the $1,028,925 Hong Kong Gold Cup (HK-I) at 2,000 meters as trainer Tony Cruz and jockey Felix Coetzee continued their strong seasons Sunday at Sha Tin racecourse.The 20/1 outsider swooped from outright last off the home turn to head the odds-on favorite Elegant Fashion in the last strides and win by half a length. Elegant Fashion, heavily backed at odds of 1/2, hit the front with just over a furlong to race, but the mare, last year's Hong Kong Derby winner, had no answer to Bullish Luck's barnstorming run. "He kicked very hard for me. I wasn't sure if I was going to catch Elegant Fashion because she is so tough, but he got there in the end. Great performance," said Coetzee. Cruz, like Coetzee, winning his fourth group I of the season, said Bullish Luck would next target the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup on April 25. "He loves that style of racing, coming from off the pace. We knew he had lots of ability this horse from the day when he finished a head second to [Hong Kong Mile champion] Lucky Owners and they ran a time of 1 minute 34 seconds for the 1,600 meters," said Cruz. "We had the option of tackling last week's Hong Kong Macau Trophy but we felt that he had a chance in the Gold Cup so we decided to try it," Cruz added. The 5-year-old Bullish Luck formerly raced as Al Moughazel when trained by Pip Payne in England and finished fourth in the listed Heron Stakes as a 3-year-old.
Steady improvement has characterized his career in Hong Kong. This was his 14th local start, half of those for Ricky Yiu, his first trainer at Sha Tin. Since switching to Cruz in the summer of 2003 the Royal Academy gelding has won on three occasions. "She ran her usual honest race," David Hayes, who trained three winners on the supporting card, said of his gallant runner-up. Hayes said he would avoid sending Elegant Fashion for next month's Dubai World Cup carnival and concentrate instead on the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup, in which she finished second last year.