Ambitious Dragon can prove superstar status in QE II Cup
Ambitious Dragon tossed aside some history in winning the Derby in March and he can repeat the dose in the HK$14 million Audemars Piguet QE II Cup at Sha Tin today.
In what shapes as an all-Tony finish, the Tony Millard-trained four year Ambitious Dragon (Douglas Whyte) and the Tony Cruz-trained California Memory (Matthew Chadwick) will shape up from the back of the field, giving away a start to some serious rivals, but their finishing speeds have been so good that they can still fight out the prestigious event for the home team.
A true tempo looks a key for many of the main chances, but a wide draw for regular front-runner Mighty High was just what the doctor ordered when the draw was made on Thursday.
With Mighty High having to work forward into the first turn if he is to cross the other pace horse Packing Winner, and that should at least keep the field moving as the runners jockey for position around to the back of the course.
Big finishes have been the order of the day for both Ambitious Dragon and for California Memory, who posted perhaps the quickest finishing section for a 2,000m win at Sha Tin when he closed out the Gold Cup in an official 21.63 seconds last start.
Ambitious Dragon's six-win march up the grades in seven starts this term has been a highlight, and, despite sizzling run home times to win the Group One Classic Cup and Derby against his own age in his last two starts, the gelding has looked to have something more left at the finish.
He has comfortably beaten Lucky Nine and Xtension in his last two starts and that pair gave the form added depth by filling the quinella in the Champions Mile last Monday.
It all points to Ambitious Dragon taking the QE II Cup to confirm him as the best Derby winner since Vengeance Of Rain.
California Memory's chances hinge on him reproducing his explosive Gold Cup run when the grey surprised many at his first local 2,000m start. His profile has a great deal in common with Cruz's former star Bullish Luck, who emerged in the Gold Cup in much the same way, with a booming win at long odds and was able to hold that level thereafter.
Wigmore Hall (Jamie Spencer) is another who will get back, but he looks the best of the three visitors after a luckless run down the straight when third to Presvis in the Dubai Duty Free.
Ambitious Dragon has sailed through the grades since moving to Tony Millard, winning six times and collecting: HK$14.6m