Everyone wants to get the New Year off to a winning start.

And more so when it comes to horse racing.

When it comes to trainers, one would think that the one with the best strike rate on the big New Year’s Day meeting will be one of the big ones- the ones who are always winning the big Cup races and with stables loaded with great horsepower.

Trainers like John Moore, Tony Cruz or John Size.

But if statistics are anything to go by, the trainer with the best strike rate over the past three seasons on this auspicious date- January 1- is the “other Cruz”- the low-key and soft-spoken Derek Cruz.

In 2009, Derek was at the winners circle three times leading in Ocean Prince, Kildare and the still-great Joy And Fun- one of our favourite horses.

What a great old galloper this wonderful horse has been to its owners.

The next year, Derek trained one winner and had two thirds.

Last year, he trained a double with wins from Grandfield and Sure Forward.

On January 1 at Shatin, Derek Cruz has seven runners.

This includes the in-form Wrath Of Fire- Race 7, No.9.

Its last start win over 1800 metres screamed BACK ME AGAIN!

Despite stepping up in distance to 2000 metres and drawn barrier 14, jockey Keith ML Yeung should have enough time to settle the horse and get a good cart into the race.

This horse looks and runs like an out-and-out stayer.

Derek also has Really The Best running along with Dragonfield which is raced in the same interests as Grandfield, one of two winners he trained in the 2010-2011 season.

The horse has drawn well in barrier 6 and has the services of the very capable apprentice Vincent CY Ho over the 1200 metres trip.

With three winners in the last four meetings, the Derek Cruz stable is on fire.

Will the fire spread on January 1st?

We’re tipping that it will!