Wife's green light was all the notice Millard needed
After a day so tense Tony Millard described it as being like Kiefer Sutherland's character Jack Bauer in the suspense-filled drama 24, he only needed to hear two words from his wife and Ambitious Dragon's trackwork rider Bev: "He's right."
Beverley Millard had just galloped Ambitious Dragon to test his fitness leading into a make-or-break race morning vet check, following 24 hours of intense, hands-on treatment.
Millard has always deflected praise to the team surrounding Ambitious Dragon, but never was their devotion more evident than after the six-year-old was injured and failed to pass the routine vet inspection on the eve of the event.
Facing the task of recuperating the lame gelding in time for raceday became a race against time, Millard was forced to rely on a combination of old-school training techniques and veterinary expertise.
Unable to medicate a laceration so close to raceday, but fearing the pastern joint would fill with fluid, Millard's staff worked tirelessly, walking the horse all throughout Saturday.
"We had to go back to the old ways that you can remember from way back. Chris Riggs and our vet, Alex Davis, were great, and the regulatory vets made the right call too," Millard said.
"It was amazing to have that reassurance from those people. "The staff worked so hard, especially the horse's mafoo, Cash Lee Tsz-wai. We had him walking every two hours from 4am until 11pm - that's the only way we could bring him through. It was a real balancing act, and you couldn't overdo it."
"When I left him at past midnight, I was happy with him and knew that today that he would be there. We brought him out this morning and just seemed to improve, he got better and better each hour. He is a great horse, with a massive heart and is an amazing champion.'