She is the most effective PR person in Hong Kong racing and her husband’s greatest asset. While most wives and girlfriends of horse trainers are prepared to sit in their background and watch their men do the hard work, Paulene Cruz is almost an “Assistant Trainer” to husband Tony Cruz. Probably Hong Kong’s most popular racing personality, Tony Cruz is all about winning and focusing on what he does best: Training his horses to win.
It’s this same focus which made him Hong Kong’s Champion Jockey for many years and which, in turn, led to him riding in the UK and France for owners like The Aga Khan and the Queen. He survived a life-threatening fall and where, he says, he saw “a white light pointing me towards a door”. Through it all, he has had one person by his side: His wife of over 25 years and mother to their children Sean and Antonia, Paulene.
Paulene Cruz was a model and former beauty queen and this Singaporean stunner has learnt the tricks of the trade and the ins and outs of the racing world. She laughs with owners, she tips, she offers advice to them and does all the work and socializing which Tony Cruz has no time for and, no doubt, detests. Knowing him pretty well, he’s rather be discussing his latest car or singing karaoke at home with a few close friends.
Known for his great results on racing tracks around the world, the legendary Cruz is just as well-known for not suffering fools gladly. He has fired owners and told them to take their horses and leave and has as been known to be extremely tough on jockeys when he sees a bad ride or else spies a lack of discipline. He can also be extremely loyal and an extremely gifted mentor who has been key to the success of young Matthew Chadwick’s riding career in Hong Kong. The positioning of his horses, the way he never has them too far back and the way he pushes them out in a finish is very reminiscent of Cruz, the jockey.
As for Paulene Cruz, behind the smile and gregarious nature is a very savvy lady who knows all-too-well the fickleness of the racing world and so, “works it” when it comes to keep those owners who matter, happy and in the loop at all times. She is also known to be a tough cookie to crack for bloodstock agents who always have some horse or another to sell to the Cruz yard. Many have complained that it’s “tough” dealing with her and how “she doesn’t know a good horse from a bad one”, but we don’t subscribe to that school of thought: Paulene Cruz has many queuing up outside her door with something to sell, she checks and double-checks everything and always knows what a horse is worth and when not to step into any booby tracks and purchase a “wrong one.”
No one is perfect and purchasing horses is not an exacting science as is dealing with owners and keeping them happy. But, Paulene Cruz is doing a bloody good job in what is, very much, a male dominated world.