What a weekend of racing we are in store for? First, we have the Met Mile. I would love to see Shackleford get his
revenge on Caleb’s Posse and Jackson Bend. Second, I get to race my daschund in the annual Wiener Nationals at Golden Gate Fields. Hunter is ready to roll, and as long as
there are no blowing leaves to distract him, the prospect of getting his
orange ball is all the motivation he needs to bring a championship to the Scott
The next, and more important race is one I have been eagerly
anticipating for nearly 3 months.
In the next couple of weeks, most of us are going to go into
Triple Crown frenzy, hoping I’ll Have Another may end the 34-year draught
in the USA. One thing many of us
may not know, is that half way around the world, a horse is preparing for his
own run toward Triple Crown immortality.
Poised to become only the second horse in the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s
history to complete the feat, Ambitious Dragon (Pins-Golden Gamble by Oregon) is
ready to take center stage, and his first crack at 12 furlongs.
The Hong Kong Triple Crown is spread over 4 months, unlike
the grueling test of the US title with the 3 races spread over 5 weeks. But what it lacks in race proximity, it
makes up for in demanding versatility.
The first race is the 1600m (just short of 8f) Steward’s Cup – G1 raced
over turf. Ambitious Dragon scored
an impressive hand ride victory with his closing running style. His turn of foot scorched the final ¼
in 22.48 seconds, completing the race in 1:34.93.
4 weeks later, the second leg of the HK Triple Crown, the
Hong Kong Gold Cup – G1, was contested at 2000m (just shy of 10f) on the turf
of Sha Tin. Again, sitting
toward the mid-rear of the pack, his jockey, Douglas Whyte piloted him to a clear
trip in the stretch and just tapped the Dragon’s shoulder to watch him catapult
to victory. He stopped the clock
in 2:02.88, again showing his kick by completing the final ¼ in 23.08 seconds.
Then a 3-month break until the final leg, the Standard
Chartered Champions and Charter Cup – G1, which is contested over 2400m (just
shy of 12f) on the turf at Sha Tin.
It is to be raced this Sunday.
This race has only drawn 5 competitors to challenge Ambitious Dragon for
his title, and the tension has been mounting.
After a lackluster 7th in the Dubai Duty Free at
the Dubai World Cup Carnival, trainer Tony Millard was looking for
answers. He found it with a fever
that the horse was diagnosed with after the race, and with it relief that the trip the trip to Dubai may have not taken a negative toll on the champion gelding. Last Month, Ambitious Dragon returned to Sha
Tin in the BMW Champions Mile – G1. Despite getting a nasty
bump at the start, he was not able to close the gap at the wire and finished 4th. At this point, an outraged trainer
needed to find something to blame for this result, and unfortunately it was champion jockey, Douglas Whyte.
Drama ensued as the two publicly argued for the reasons of
the horse’s non-characteristic performance. Ultimately, the trainer had is way and is now looking for a
new rider to attempt to guide Ambitious Dragon to his Triple Crown glory. I highly respect Mr Millard, and hope he
can find someone that will give Ambitious Dragon a clean ride. Whyte will be opposing Ambitious Dragon on
Dominant, who he rode in his most recent outing, winning over the 12f distance. In fact, of the 5 other horses in the
field, all have competed at 12f, and 3 of the 5 have won.
If Ambitious Dragon can overcome the adversity to become the
2nd Hong Kong Triple Crown winner, his connections will receive a
HK$5 million bonus from the Jockey Club, and will likely secure the second consecutive Horse of the Year title. I cannot wait to see if he can accomplish a feat that would
allow him to be mentioned in the same breath as Orfevre, and maybe… just maybe,
I’ll Have Another.
**Photo credit to Fasttrack.hk