Dragon 'must raise his game'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 March, 2012, 12:00am


Super horse Ambitious Dragon still has to prove he can bring his 'A' game overseas and will have to do it in the strongest race on Saturday's World Cup card, former Hong Kong-based jockey Glyn Schofield says.

Schofield says the US$5 million Duty Free, in which he rides Green Destiny and will encounter Hong Kong's Horse of the Year, is a tougher assignment than the night's main event and world's richest race, the US$10 million Dubai World Cup at Meydan.

In his first run outside his homeland, Ambitious Dragon is the early favourite for the 1,800m turf race, and is one of three Hong Kong-trained runners rated a chance, along with Xtension and California Memory.

Sydney-based Schofield, who competed for four seasons in Hong Kong, riding 151 winners between 2002 and 2006, said he kept a close eye on his former base and the exploits of Tony Millard's reigning Horse of the Year.

'Ambitious Dragon is obviously a strong contender, but he has still got to do it somewhere else than home,' Schofield said. 'He has still to travel, you can't be sure if they're going to settle into the place. Obviously, he is a super horse, he can sit anywhere in the field, finish it off and can put a race to bed pretty quickly.

'Overall, the Hong Kong contingent is very strong. Xtension has run second to Ambitious Dragon at his last two starts and California Memory is a top horse in his own right.'

The Dubai World Cup withdrawal of the Ramzan Kadyrov-owned Gitano Hernando left Schofield without a ride in the feature, but he still has four rides for the Chechen president and five overall, all of them trained by Herman Brown.

He says the Duty Free, while having half the prize money, has more 'depth and quality' than the 2,000m contest on the Tapeta.

'It looks like the strongest race of the night, at least on paper,' he said. 'Sure, the World Cup is the showpiece, but the Duty Free is a race with a lot of quality in it. I don't want to take away from the big one, because everyone wants to win that. There's no easy race on the night, there's a lot of prize money on offer and horses are coming from all over the place to try to win it.'

Of Schofield's other rides, he said front-running stayer Mikhail Glinka would be hard to run down in the 3,200m Dubai Gold Cup, he talked up the chances of UAE Derby outsider Maritimer and said the Al-Quoz was a wide-open race, with his ride, August Rush, another outside hope.

'Mikhail Glinka put in a very strong staying performance to win the 2,400m lead-up race and the start before that he gave away a lot of weight when he got run down, he is in from and will run well,' Schofield said 'My Derby ride, Maritimer, was a champion two-year-old in Canada, and is a very smart horse. He could be a smoky.

'August Rush is dropping back from 1,200m so Herman has kept him fresh. That looks like the weaker of the two sprinting races on paper, and he is in there with a hope.'

Dux Scholar is a four-year-old entered for the Audemars Piguet QE II Cup (2,000m) at Sha Tin next month, where Schofield suggested he might be better suited than in the Godolphin Mile on the Tapeta on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Aidan O'Brien's So You Think was the big winner at yesterday's World Cup barrier draw, the former Australian-trained galloper to jump from gate four.

So You Think firmed into 5-2 in most markets after the draw, with Smart Falcon (5-1), who drew gate five, next in betting. American hope Game On Dude's chances were dented when he drew the widest of 14 runners and he drifted to 10-1.