Millard's A-team on a mission to win

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 May, 2012, 12:00am


They say a good coach takes the blame when his athletes lose and gives credit to his team when they win.

If Ambitious Dragon is defeated today, trainer Tony Millard says he will take the criticism 'on the chin', but in victory he will defer praise to the horse and the dedicated team around him.

'You need top people working on top horses,' Millard says. 'These horses are competing at such a high level. You have to equate it back to top sports people, like a rugby or soccer team, they have a whole team of people to keep them on the field, so why should it be any different for a horse?'

Millard's support team is led by a woman he describes as the 'Sergeant Major' of his operation, assistant trainer Carol Yu Wing-sze.

Ambitious Dragon follows a strict daily routine and Yu makes sure it flows with military precision.

'It was quite a gamble to make Carol 'AT' three years ago, especially with Hong Kong the way it is ... this is a very macho sport,' Millard says. 'She is small, but she is feisty, and you don't want to start an argument with her because you will certainly come out second best.'

Former jockey Yu is across all aspects of the stable operations and takes particular pride in controlling the intensive preparations it takes to get Ambitious Dragon to the training track each day.

The horse's day is one of warm-ups, warm-downs, ice-buckets and specialist treatments, like those from equine physio Susan Baker. As well as morning workouts, the horse is also ridden every afternoon.

With the gelding nearly every minute of the day, including standing with the horse through two 45-minute ice treatments each morning and afternoon, is mafoo Cash Lee Tsz-wai.

'The horse is his baby,' Millard says. 'Behind every horse, you need to have a team, and he is right at the heart of that. Cash knows the horse so well, so if there is something out of place, he'll pick it up straight away.'