Hong Kong‚Äôs Horse of the Year Ambitious Dragon (6 g Pins – Golden Gamble, by Oregon) swept to a scintillating victory in the HKG1 Stewards‚Äô Cup on Sunday.
The Tony Millard-trained Ambitious Dragon headed into the 1600m contest, the 1st Leg of Hong Kong‚Äôs Triple Crown, with a point to prove after tasting defeat in his two previous outings, most recently when fourth to the Tony Cruz-trained California Memory in the 2000m G1 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup at the track on 11 December.
Ridden once again by champion jockey Douglas Whyte, Ambitious Dragon consigned those defeats to history as he posted a performance of the utmost class; sprinting clear when asked inside the final 300m and then cruising past the post a length and a quarter clear of the John Moore-trained Xtension, with old rival, the late-closing California Memory, a further three quarters of a length back in third.
‚ÄúHe‚Äôs back from that bad experience, that‚Äôs the main thing, he‚Äôs back!‚Äù said a delighted Millard. ‚ÄúI was a bit more confident today. Going into the Hong Kong Cup, we didn‚Äôt have a good run-in; he had a bad prep and going into the International race was just too hard.‚Äù
Millard, who is confident in the five-year-old‚Äôs ability at a range of distances, will now point his charge at the 2nd Leg of the Triple Crown, the HKG1 Citibank Hong Kong Gold Cup over 2000m.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm not somebody who puts the cart in front of the horse,‚Äù continued Millard, ‚Äúbut we will definitely go for the 2000m and then we will decide what we are going to do, but we are definitely going race by race.
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt think the mile and a half of the HKG1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup ‚Äì 3rd Leg) will be a problem the way this horse can turn it on. Even today, I thought that Douglas could have gone a little bit later; he has a phenomenal turn of speed, the way that he can make it up.”
‚ÄúI think Ambitious Dragon is a true champion ‚Äì he hasn‚Äôt got a (best) distance.‚Äù