Ambitious Dragon Swoops to Sensational Gr.1 Mile Victory
11 December 2012
Pins superstar Ambitious Dragon surged up the Sha Tin straight to land a sensational victory in the LONGINES Gr.1 Hong Kong Mile on Sunday.
The six-year-old has already been Hong Kong Horse of the Year twice and it is going to take an awful lot to knock him off his pedestal after Zac Purton delivered a perfect challenge from way off the pace to beat his old rival Glorious Days in a pulsating finish.
Despite strong overseas competition the victory also stretched the dominance of Hong Kong-trained horses in the Mile – that was the seventh straight victory – not only that but with Packing OK running third, it was a famous first three finish for the locals.
Trainer Tony Millard had expressed no worries about Ambitious Dragon’s wide gate, and Purton had him perfectly settled out the back whilst up front Olivier Peslier pushed some swift fractions aboard Don Bosco. Around 200m from the wire the roar intensified from the packed stands when Glorious Days and Douglas Whyte charged into the lead and for a moment it looked as though the horse, who started favourite, would again better Ambitious Dragon as he had done in last month’s G2 Jockey Club Mile.
But Ambitious Dragon and Purton would have none of that and his irresistible finishing kick, that has made the gelding so popular in Hong Kong, resulted in a 3/4 length margin. Packing OK ran an absolute stormer 1 1/2 lengths further back with Gordon Lord Byron doing best of the overseas raiders in fourth.
The winning jockey reflected on the race: “The last thing Tony said was just worry about what you’re doing and not everyone else so I did that and I had the horse underneath me. I thought the pace was nice enough that I was able to wait a little bit and I just tried to wait until I got into the straight and then let him down. I let him roll into his gear and let him down and in the end I never had to touch him with the whip. It was a pretty soft win and a good effort.”
With Ambitious Dragon lame yesterday it had been a worrying day for Millard: “I definitely know what Kiefer Sutherland felt like in ‘24’, because the last 24 hours were trying and I really must thank my staff. Up to 11pm last night they were still walking the horse and we brought him out this morning and he seemed to improve every hour. It is a great reflection on the horse that he is. He’s just a super champion and he can win over any distance. When I saw him picking them up I thought I hope he does not flatten out but they had gone a good lick so they were stopping.”