By Hans Ebert
Visit: www.fasttrack.hk

As someone who started out as a junior reporter because that was the only job my Dad could help me get before being given the lofty title of “Rock journalist” and accidentally finding myself in advertising as a writer who became a creative director, being inspired enough to continue being a “wordsmith” these days of social media and Twitter talk has become difficult.

It’s not suffering from a writer’s block. It’s more about a lack of inspiration and motivation and not believing that anyone cares enough to read what you might have to say.

Other than always being inspired to write songs and poetry, strangely for some closest to me, when the mood takes me there, there’s always a story to be found in horse racing, especially horse racing with Hong Kong as the backdrop.

There’s a Netflix movie to be made in showing what makes horse racing in Hong Kong and directed by a team comprising Scorsese, David Lynch, Tarantino and Sergio Leone.

The subject matter: There’s the ongoing Zac And Joao Show- the duelling banjos of competitiveness starring the world’s two best riding talents in Australian Zac Purton and Brazilian Joao Moreira. It’s The Zac Attack versus The Magic Man.

There’s The Mauritian Magician in Karis Teetan- yet to reach the lofty levels of the two horse race he’s happy to watch unfold in front of him, but patient enough to know that good things happen to those who wait.

There’s The Chadster, The Golden Boy that is Hong Kong born Vincent Ho who, today, can hold his own with the best in the world.

There are plenty of cameo appearances by other riders, there are the owners, the trainers, the determination and absolute focus of the Hong Kong Jockey Club German CEO who’s irreplaceable and those who follow the racing like a religion.

It could all be described as The Cult Of Hong Kong Racing- aspirational, often crazy, wacky, political and magical.

There’s also something very Rock And Roll about it. And here, Elvis hasn’t left the building. That confident swagger lives on in former champion jockey Tony Cruz and now a multiple winning champion trainer who’s won everything in Hong Kong worth winning.

Not for him are dreams and schemes of overseas success. If it happens, it happens. He’s proud to tell you, “I’m a Hong Kong boy, man”. And though Macanese, he’s all about Hong Kong and being the best in Hong Kong.

When a jockey, he rode against the best in the world at that time- his idol Pat Eddery, Piggott, Fallon, Dettori, Swinburn, Carson, Cauthen…

As a trainer, they’ve all ridden for him- Felix Coetzee, Douglas Whyte, Gary Stevens, Gerald Mosse and many other greats. You name them and they’ve all ridden for the man racing fans know as “Goh Tony”. Some of us who have known him for decades, refer to him as Cruzy or the lesser known Putha Man. It’s a long story.

This season, almost when no one has been watching, Cruzy has, as he would say, put the pedal to the metal and has a very good chance of winning this season’s Hong Kong trainers premiership.

One would think that this would not be a big deal to him. But it is. Simply put, Tony Cruz enjoys winning.

I remember when during Melbourne Cup Week, there was a Legends race for somewhat riders. When Tony would participate, this was not some fun sideshow. He trained damn hard to get fit and rode to win. And he did.

Even at a karaoke session, he wants to be the best. Here, he needs more work. But in horse racing, he’s a bloody legend- astute, experienced, unpredictable, supremely confident, chilled, serious and no one’s fool.

He is Tony Cruz, man. He’s a legend. He’s Hong Kong horse racing’s answer to Bruce Lee and with that one-time George Chakiris pompadour morphing into someone resembling a Robert DeNiro ageing well.

Here’s someone who’s seen it all, done it all, become a very very rich man, but remains down to earth, knows who his friends are, and if, once in a while, he might seem to tune out and tune in to some other planet, it’s just Tony being Tony.

We wouldn’t want him any other way.

#TonyCruz #HKracing #horsetrainer