Millard already looking at bigger picture for classy Royal Flush
Trainer Tony Millard wasn't coy about the future of Royal Flush after the three-year-old dusted off some talented rivals in the Juvenile Sprint Trophy (1,200m).
'I think he's a really top-class horse. He's got everything - the pedigree, the action, the ability - and with some improvement over the summer break, a length or two, there's no reason he shouldn't be looking at the international races,' said Millard, who had won the race previously with Lifeline Express (2001).
'He's won on sheer ability today because I'm sure he isn't a soft-ground horse and he's still given some decent horses a galloping lesson.'
Zac Purton took Royal Flush straight to the lead as he had done in a soft griffin win last start, but the colt became fired up when Leading City got pulling and went with him in the early stages.
'He could have done without being worked like that in the run but he still gave a big kick as we straightened up,' said Purton.
'He was tiring on the post but without that pressure for the first few hundred metres, I think he might have won pretty easily.'
Millard said his wife, Beverley, who rides Royal Flush in his work, had given him all the confidence in the world before yesterday's feature.
'Bev sprinted him up Friday and she had no doubt he was better than last time he ran - and she's got a great feel,' the trained said. 'That was all I needed to hear.'
Millard said the next trick with Royal Flush was how to handle his rise into the higher ranks. 'I'd like to run him in some early lead-up races to the better ones and see if he's ready to take on the best, but it's a Catch-22 with the ratings after winning this,' he said. 'You want to get enough points to put you within reach of those races, but not so many that it kills the horse if he doesn't measure up to that level yet and makes it hard to win a race. Ideally, you want to be where you only need to win one more to get into the picture for the important races.'
Millard later added Ambitious Owner (Derek Leung Ka-chun) in the final race, backing up from his Class Four win last weekend and taking his season's tally to four victories - to the pleasant surprise of owner Johnson Lam Pui-hung.
'When Johnson gave the horse to me a year ago, Ambitious Owner hadn't earned a cheque in nine starts. He said just to run him a couple of times and he'd probably retire it,' Millard laughed. 'Johnson can't believe what's happened now. Back from the dead. I'd love some more horses like him.'