He is one of Hong Kong’s favorite sons and has helped to bring racing in Hong Kong to the global stage.
Now a Champion trainer who is known for his association with the mighty Silent Witness, Tony Cruz started his career in Hong Kongat the age of 14 as an Apprentice jockey riding for Aussie trainer Bob Burns.
Those were strange days in Hong Kong racing and made up of such colourful personalities as jockeys Peter Miers, Glyn Pretty, Geoff Lane, “T.C” Cheng and Leon Fox plus well-known local racing personality, Tung Biu, an outspoken critic of, especially, Miers and other Aussie jockeys.
He and Miers coming to fisticuffs during track work is still spoken about by many, some of whom hadn’t even been born at that time.
Though critical of what he saw as being “dodgy” riding tactics, Tung Biu was a big fan of the young Tony Cruz and was correct in his praise for the then-young jockey.
In record-breaking time, Cruz graduated to being a senior jockey and didn’t take long to become Hong Kong’s Champion Jockey- six times.
It also didn’t take long for Tony Cruz to “graduate” from a Champion Jockey in Hong Kong to being a Champion International Jockey.
This was when he rode extensively throughout the UK and Europe for everyone from The Aga Khan to the Queen and formed a close partnership with the great Group 1 winning filly Triptych.
Between 1984 and 2007 only one horse has succeeded in winning the Champion Stakes twice, and that was Triptych who ran home victorious in 1986 and 1987 under the able guidance of Tony Cruz and when the horse was trained by Patrick Biancone.
“Tony has done it all and seen it all and has done Hong Kong racing proud,” says Hans Ebert, Chairman and CEO of We-Enhance Inc which owns Fast Track and other racing sites. “I have known Tony for many years and believe that after all he has achieved and the passion he has for the sport plus all the winners he has ridden, the serious fall which nearly ended his life and when, he will gladly tell you, he started to walk towards ‘The White Light’ and how during his operation how his face “came off’- not great to hear before or during dinner- plus all he has accomplished to date as a trainer, being on the Queen’s Honours list would be a just reward for this great horseman. “