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Sergio samples HKIR horse power as Hong Kong Open beckons

Star golfer Sergio Garcia meets Time Warp and Tony Cruz at Sha Tin. Source: Hong Kong Jockey Club

SPANISH golfing superstar Sergio Garcia went from Ryder Cup to rider Cup at Sha Tin today (Wednesday, 21 November) as he continued his preparations for a new golf season by getting up close to some of the biggest stars of the Hong Kong racing scene.

The 2017 Masters champion – who overtook Sir Nick Faldo as the highest-scoring golfer in Ryder Cup history when Europe beat America in Paris in September – was at Sha Tin racecourse to meet legendary local trainer Tony Cruz and three leading contenders for the Hong Kong International Races.

The four G1 contests on 9 December are worth a combined HK$93 million in prize money and Garcia took a particular shine to last year’s Hong Kong Cup winner Time Warp during his stable tour.

“I’ve never ridden but I do love the beauty of horses and to see an animal with so much muscle and power and also calmness is amazing,” he said.

“My wife Angela was quite a good rider when she was younger,” he added. “If she would like to get a racehorse in the future then that’s fine,” he added. “I can certainly see why people love these animals so much now that I’ve been so close to them.”

Cruz keen to do the Time Warp again in Hong Kong Cup

Cruz, a keen 12-handicap golfer, has followed Garcia’s career ever since he burst onto the scene as a teenager and is hoping to land another Major of his own when Time Warp bids for back-to-back wins in the HK$28 million Hong Kong Cup (2000m) next month.

“Time Warp finished tired in the Jockey Club Cup on Sunday but that was a crazy race,” he said.

“He was pressured for the lead and the sectional times show they went way too hard. My other horse Pakistan Star chased him up and also lost his momentum and breathing pattern because of the mad pace but neither of them have lost any weight and if Time Warp gets his own way he’ll be tough to run down in the Cup again.”

The brilliant but quirky Pakistan Star will be joined by stablemate Exultant in the Hong Kong Vase (2400m) next month and Cruz confirmed that jockey plans are now firmly in place for both horses.

“William Buick is now confirmed to ride Pakistan Star in the Vase and Zac (Purton) will be on Exultant,” he said. “We are going to go back to riding a very quiet race on Pakistan Star and hope that he can find that strong finish again.

“I haven’t lost any faith in Pakistan Star, but Exultant is in great form and once he moves up to 2400m in the Vase then he’s going to run a big race, I’m sure.”

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Sergio aiming to fly the Spanish flag at Fanling

Garcia has been in fine form of late, following his Ryder Cup heroics by winning the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, and has a strong Spanish tradition to uphold when he tees off for his second Honma Hong Kong Open appearance at nearby Fanling on Thursday against a field that also includes Tommy Fleetwood and Patrick Reed.

“Miguel (Angel Jiminez) won the Hong Kong Open four times and Jose Maria (Olazabal) has also won it so hopefully we can keep adding to that,” he said.

“It’s been a good end to the season and the aim for the next one is just to try to give myself more and more chances of winning tournaments and Majors.

“The way the Ryder Cup went was unbelievable against a team that people thought would destroy us.

“It’s great to be the record points scorer, and hopefully there are a few more to come, not so much for the record but to help the Europe team as much as possible.”

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