Dragon Breathes Fire In Trophy

 “Awesome!” was how jockey Zac Purton described Ambitious Dragon after Hong Kong’s two-time Horse of the Year had swept aside a high-class field to take the Gr 2Sha Tin Trophy (Handicap) at Sha Tin Racecourse last night.

Purton, having his first race ride aboard the champion, navigated a faultless passage in the 14-runner 1600 metre contest. After showing good speed at the break from the one gate, the jockey steered Ambitious Dragon away from the rail to sit two-wide in seventh position.

“The trainer said be positive, bring yourself away from the fence and ride your race from there,” he said. “That’s what I did and he just towed me into it when I let him go. At the 200m, I had a smile on my face!”

After switching out on the home turn, Ambitious Dragon was swinging double down the stretch with Purton perched motionless. And when rising star miler Glorious Days began to draw upsides nearing the 200 metre mark, Purton finally engaged the afterburners and unleashed a scorching burst of acceleration.

The duo blitzed through the finish line a length and a half clear of the Douglas Whyte-ridden Glorious Days, with Helene Spirit a further half-length back in third under Jacky Tong. The winning time was a quick 1m 33.59s.
“We’ll most probably go for the Mile and hopefully everyone else will go for the 2000 metre,” trainer Tony Millard said, as he outlined plans to take in the Gr 2 Jockey Club Mile on November 18, before driving on to the Hong Kong International Races on December 9.

“From there we will look at whether we go for the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile or the 2000m (LONGINES Hong Kong Cup) in December, but I’d like to give him another run at a mile first and take it from there.”

The trainer was delighted with both horse and jockey, Ambitious Dragon having defied top-weight of 133lbs to land the spoils on his first start of the campaign. “I like the way he won today and I like the way Zac rode him,” he said. “Those were the most instructions I’ve ever given a jockey. There were so many options and we had to think about it very carefully, and Zac held his head. He rode a copybook race and certainly he’s got the ride next time, there’s no doubt about that!

“I thought before the race that he was going to get jammed on the fence. The one draw is a great draw, so long as you utilize it and Zac did a great job of putting him in the right position from that draw. He’s such a versatile horse and the beauty about him is that he’s got gate speed now – he’s developed gate speed, but he’s also developed that he can do that and then relax.

“I said to Zac, whatever you do, you wait and you wait and then when you want to go you think, Tony said wait, and you wait a bit more. That’s the longest that somebody’s had the nerve to do that and Zac did that today and the horse exploded out – he has a phenomenal turn of speed – he’s a unique horse.” – Hong Kong Jockey Club.

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