Trialled and tested: Re-enter the Dragon
Tony Millard unleashed Ambitious Dragon in a trial yesterday and the top-rated horse showed he is ready to atone for an uncharacteristic international day performance.
It was a busy morning at Sha Tin for Millard's stable, with 11 horses entered across the 11 trials. But it was Ambitious Dragon who stole the show, producing some of his trademark acceleration as he cruised through a 1,000m hit-out up the straight.
The first batch was of Group One quality with Millard's stable star squaring off against Hong Kong Mile winner Able One, Xtension, Destined For Glory and Let Me Handle It. Most of them are likely to head to the Hong Kong Group One Stewards' Cup (1,600m) on Sunday week.
Joining them were a couple of Group One Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby hopefuls in Packing Whiz and Horace's Empire.
Ambitious Dragon wasn't at his best in the Hong Kong Cup when fourth, beaten 11/4 lengths as favourite, and not able to put a race away that he seemingly had at his mercy. Many felt his torrid runner-up effort in the Jockey Club Mile, when stuck three deep without cover and ridden hard to the line by Maxime Guyon, had 'gassed' the gelding after what had already been a long preparation.
This time with Douglas Whyte aboard, the five-year-old presented in superb order and produced slick sectionals with minimal effort.
After trailing leader Able One (Jeff Lloyd), Whyte let Ambitious Dragon move into the trial in the middle stages and he clicked through the gears, with a final 400m split of 22.5 and overall time of 59.5. He was hand-timed his last 200m in a solid 11.5.
Pushed to finish off beside him, beaten a neck, was the Caspar Fownes-trained Let Me Handle It (Olivier Doleuze), who was reluctant to load, but worked into it nicely after settling back.
Able One was third, and stablemate Packing Whiz (Neil Callan), an 87-rated import, put in his second impressive trial in fourth.