Ambitious Dragon back with scintillating Stewards' Cup win Mon, 30 Jan 2012
Ambitious Dragon restored his 2011 Hong Kong Horse of the Year credentials with a scintillating performance in the 1600-metre Gr. 1-HK Stewards’ Cup at Sha Tin last night.
The five-year-old Pins gelding was having his first start since a below-par fourth in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup on December 11 and it was more of the same form that had won eight of his previous 15 starts, including the Hong Kong Derby and Queen Elizabeth 11 Cup earlier last year.
Settled midfield off a moderate pace by Douglas Whyte, Ambitious Dragon was looking ominous as he moved forward nearing the home turn. His trademark finishing burst then came into play as he hit the front with time to spare and proceeded to a comfortable win over Xtension, who had been prominent from the start, and Hong Kong Cup winner California Memory, getting home late from the rear.
“He’s back from that bad experience, that’s the main thing, he’s back!” said a delighted trainer Tony Millard. “I was a bit more confident today. Going into the Hong Kong Cup we didn’t have a good run-in; he had a bad prep and going into the International race was just too hard.”
Ambitious Dragon will now step up to 2000 metres for the second Leg of the Triple Crown, the Citibank Hong Kong Gold Cup. Millard has no qualms about then testing him at the longest Hong Kong distance in the 2400-metre Champions & Chater Cup.
“I don’t think the mile and-a-half will be a problem the way this horse can turn it on,” Millard said. “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.
“I think Ambitious Dragon is a true champion – he hasn’t got a (best) distance.”