Millard hopes history won't repeat itself
Horse of the Year Ambitious Dragon looks the most obvious of the favourites in today's Longines Hong Kong International Races prelude meeting, but trainer Tony Millard has been here before and isn't counting his chickens too soon.
The Jockey Club Mile looked at the gelding's mercy 12 months ago and he was unlucky to be beaten at long odds-on by Destined For Glory after a wide run. The odds will be similar today, but his potential obstacles are somewhat different.
Jockey Zac Purton produced a perfect tactical ride in the Sha Tin Trophy first-up and will be required to do the same in what appears a similar assignment - slow tempo, smallish field and an inside draw.
"I'm very happy with where my horse is. Everything has gone exactly as we'd like since he won first-up," said Millard. "Small fields can be tricky, he has an inside draw and needs luck at the right time.
"If they do go slow that suits him because we know he has the best acceleration in the race and if they run along, well, that wouldn't worry him either. But look at last year, when everyone expected us to win that one and we got beaten, so we're not taking anything lightly. I see they've gone for the blinkers on John Size's horse, Glorious Days, so we'll be looking at what difference that makes."
Millard has yet to tip his hand over whether Ambitious Dragon will stay at 1,600m on December 9 or move up to 2,000m for the Hong Kong Cup and that won't change this afternoon.
"We'll get through this race first, see how he comes through it and then have a couple of days to think about the opposition on international day," he said. "We'd be happy to go to either. The bottom line is we want to run in the easier race. We want to run where we can win."