By Nicholas Godfrey
Hong Kong: Exultant, one of the shining lights of the Hong Kong racing scene across three seasons, may finally be sent on his travels as trainer Tony Cruz targets the Dubai Sheema Classic.
The region’s champion stayer, who beat Japanese star Lys Gracieux to win the Hong Kong Vase in 2018, defied topweight for his second victory in the G3 Centenary Vase Handicap at Sha Tin on Monday’s Chinese New Year card under Zac Purton.
Exultant will now target the G1 Citi Hong Kong Cup in three weeks, after which Meydan is likely to be on the six-year-old’s agenda. “I’m expecting to go because heˇs not getting any younger and I think weˇd better make a move and go to Dubai with him,” said Cruz, speaking to the HKJC. “Next race will be the Hong Kong Gold Cup and then weˇll decide whether we go to Dubai or not.”
A son of Teofilo, Exultant began his career as Irishcorrespondent in Ireland with Mick Halford, for whom he won at Leopardstown and The Curragh as a three-year-old. After being gelded, he was to become a standing dish at Sha Tin, excelling at what would be called middle distances in Europe and landing three G1s altogether. He was beaten into third to Glory Vase as odds-on favourite in the most recent edition of the HK Vase.
Although the 1m1f of Monday’s race is short of his optimum, Exultant gave 20lb to the runner-up Glorious Dragon, whom he beat by a length and a half. ¨I donˇt think there was any outstanding opposition and I was expecting him to win,” said Cruz.
¨He’s turned into a very professional racehorse,” added the trainer. “I believe he can do something in Dubai – I believe he can prove himself and win that race. His form is good – it shows that heˇs right up there with the best.”