Eight-year-old race veteran Joy and Fun (NZ) claimed his deserved HK-1 status in Hong Kong on Sunday night with a big win in the Chairman's Sprint Prize (1200m) giving NZ bred horses their second HK-1 title in seven days.
A winner of 12 of his 57 starts, Joy and Fun (Cullen x Gin Player) has been placed at Group 1 and HK-1 level on 3 occasions and finally managed to break through on Sunday night with an eye catching performance in the Sha Tin straight.
In the second leg of Hong Kong's Speed Series, the Derik Cruz trained gelding was ridden by jockey Brett Doyle and produced a big turn-of-foot to claim the race leaders in the straight and race away to a classy
three-quarters-of-a-length victory over arch rival Lucky Nine.
Racing in top form this preparation, Joy and Fun was runner-up to Lucky Nine in the Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint in December and ran a neck second to Eagle Regiment in last month's HK-1 Kent & Curwen Centenary Sprint Cup, the first leg of Hong Kong's Speed Series.
"We have tried so many times to win a Group 1 with him and on several occasions he has been close - it all worked out to be a great day," said trainer Derik Cruz.
"We have always had Dubai in mind for the horse after this. He has done so well for us and we will take it step by step - he has maintained his condition so we will sit back and wait about future plans."
Joy and Fun travelled successfully to Dubai in March 2010 where he won the Group 3 Meydan Al Quoz Sprint.
A trip to England after his 2010 Dubai victory resulted in Joy and Fun suffering a serious injury when contesting the Group 1 Golden Jubilee Stakes and Cruz has not ruled out the possibility of a return in 2012.
"There's a possibility," revealed the trainer, "everything's on the table and we'll assess him. If he hadn't injured himself in England he would have been a very strong contender that day."
Bred by L Williams, Joy and Fun was purchased by New Zealand Bloodstock as agent from Java Lodge at New Zealand Bloodstock's 2004 National Weanling and Broodmare Sale for just $15,000. His win on Sunday night has taken his stakes earnings to over $3.4 million.
Joy and Fun has continued New Zealand and New Zealand Bloodstock's hot form in Hong Kong. In the sprint ranks New Zealand Bloodstock has also seen Entrapment (Halo Homewrecker) win the Sha Tin Sprint Trophy and Little Bridge (Faltaat) win the Jockey Club Sprint.
Joy and Fun has also made it back-to-back HK-1 victories for New Zealand bred horses and Karaka graduates with Ambitious Dragon winning the HK-1 Stewards' Cup on January 29. Sunday's victory has given the NZ suffix its seventh stakes victory in Hong Kong this season, four clear of its nearest rivals on three.
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