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Tony Cruz Exultant as home team grabs Vase

By Alan Aitken

Tony Cruz is only the second trainer to own a Hong Kong International slam after Exultant gave the locals a rare HK Vase win on Sunday.

Just the third local win in the 2,400m G1 normally won by European or Japanese runners, Zac Purton won it for the second time with a smart on speed ride before lifting the gelding after Japan's Lys Gracieux hit the front in a great stretch-run battle between Purton and arch rival Joao Moreira.

“Joao had the momentum. My bloke just seemed to be loafing and as Joao came to me he actually rolled in and bumped my horse – that seemed to fire him back up and he found his second wind," Purton said.

Cruz's first Vase win gave him the set of HKIR G1s - only John Moore had previously won them all - and the lack of long distance targets at home might mean taking Exultant overseas.

“The Dubai Sheema Classic is a possibility,” he said.“I’ll have to decide with the owner but we’ll definitely make some entries overseas.”

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