Even with Ambitious Dragon reclaiming his undisputed status as best in town with a show-stopping international day victory and connections seemingly pushing for a return tilt at the Triple Crown, trainer Tony Millard refuses to entertain any talk of plans beyond Sunday's Stewards' Cup for his two-time reigning Horse of the Year.
The Group One is the first leg of a Triple Crown which has been just once, won by River Verdon in 1994, with Ambitious Dragon coming within 11/2 lengths of clinching it last season when runner-up in the final leg.
The media have reported owner Johnson Lam Pui-hung's wishes that his horse stay at home this season and race in next month's Citibank Hong Kong Gold Cup and Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup in May. But Millard wouldn't be drawn on any discussion not related to Sunday, calling the Triple Crown talk "presumptuous" and "disrespectful to the opposition."
"Let's not get ahead of ourselves, I want to talk about this race - we're taking things one step at a time," he said. "There are no guarantees with anything, and I still wonder what Mr Size has up his sleeve with his horse" - Millard referring to the John Size-trained Glorious Days.
Ambitious Dragon's inspirational Hong Kong Mile performance gave him a 2-1 advantage over Glorious Days in head-to-head in their match ups this season, but Millard says he still fears further improvement from his horse's arch-rival in their fourth clash over the Sha Tin mile this term.
"We always respect Glorious Days, we cannot afford to let our guard down," he said. "You need plenty of luck in this game, and maybe we got our fill when we beat him last time."
The South African trainer said the cuts to Ambitious Dragon's left hind leg - which nearly forced the horse's withdrawal from the Hong Kong Mile - had healed and had left no long-term effects.
"It was a very small thing, but it happened at a critical time, because we couldn't treat it so close to the race. The horse is fine," he said.
Meanwhile, Richard Gibson's Akeed Mofeed is still among the entries for Sunday's Classic Mile after his controversial local debut last weekend, but the trainer said the expensive import was an "extremely unlikely starter".
"We were just keeping our options open, if you enter them, you can always take them back out - but if they're not there, you can't put them back in," he said.
The "Silent Witness team" of trainer Tony Cruz and jockey Felix Coetzee will reunite with the South African hoop being called in to ride Classic Mile outsider Calforniavitality and second-stringer Pure Champion in the Stewards' Cup.Topics: Tony Millard Ambitious Dragon