Injury curbs Ambitious Dragon's Gold Cup goal
Injury to hind leg after contact with rival last month means ace will miss race
Dual Horse of the Year Ambitious Dragon will bypass the Group One Hong Kong Gold Cup later this month after suffering an injury in his surprise Stewards' Cup defeat last month.
Trainer Tony Millard said he believed the injury to the horse's right hind leg had occurred when rival Packing Whiz (Brett Prebble) came out on the point of the home turn in the race and made contact with Ambitious Dragon.
"I was a bit upset with myself. I didn't see it at the time, but it is not easy to see on the dark part of the leg. When the vet came the next morning, it had blown up," Millard said yesterday.
"The stewards grilled my jockey, Zac Purton, on the day to ask why the hot favourite didn't win, but I was a bit surprised they didn't ask Prebble to explain what he was thinking when he came out and into the favourite so early in the race.
"You can see on the replay, that's where this happened. It isn't a serious injury, but he was a bit cut up and missed some work and the main thing is to look after him."
Eleven Gold Cup entries were released yesterday, with last year's winner missing and Millard said Ambitious Dragon's next major target would now be either the Queen Elizabeth II Cup on April 28 or the Champions Mile on May 5.
"I'm not sure which way he'll go yet and the programme in the lead-up gives us only two options, the Queen's Silver Jubilee or the Chairman's Trophy, so his next run will be in one of those and then we'll see," Millard said.
The Stewards' Cup defeat changed everything for Ambitious Dragon, as his intended mission had been the Triple Crown he narrowly missed last year after winning the Stewards' Cup and Gold Cup then finishing second in the final leg, the Champions & Chater Cup over 2,400m.
With the Triple Crown dream now over, there was no urgent need to contest the Gold Cup and Millard said no late-season target was off the table, even the Yasuda Kinen in Tokyo or the Champions & Chater again.
"The main thing is that, if we take a pull on him now, we'll have him for the end of the season, which we didn't last year," the trainer said. "He was tired after going to Dubai and he'd had a long campaign when he got to the Champions & Chater and did a great job to run second.
"I wouldn't even mind having another crack at that race as the opposition isn't that strong, but the main thing is that we don't overtax him now. He's been going since October. Ambitious Dragon likes to run a bit fresh anyway and I'm not scared to sit back and wait - he's a horse which you can really target for a race." California Memory, the 2011 Gold Cup winner, now heads the 11 entries for the 2013 edition on February 24, one of three for trainer Tony Cruz, while John Moore has six of the remaining eight entries, headed by Xtension, Dan Excel and Zaidan.
John Size (Fay Fay) and David Ferraris (Liberator) make up the rest of the field.
Meanwhile, trainer Sean Woods has booked top British rider Ryan Moore to ride Autumn Gold in the Classic Cup on Sunday week and in the Hong Kong Derby next month.
Woods was left without a jockey after Douglas Whyte decided to stick with Classic Mile winner Gold-Fun.
The trainer called on Moore to ride King Dancer two years ago in the Gold Cup and he finished a narrow second.