Little Bridge: Sprint Cup winner will be aimed at the King's Stand StakesPICTURE: Hong Kong Jockey Club
Little Bridge books passage to Royal Ascot
Report: Hong Kong, Sunday
Sha Tin: The Sprint Cup (Group 2) 6f, turf, 3yo+
LITTLE BRIDGE (Danny Shum/Zac Purton) confirmed his passage to Royal Ascot courtesy of a steely performance in the Sprint Cup, a local Group 2 at level weights on Sunday.
The 4-7 favourite was made to work hard by the front-running Leading City, who established a break of about four lengths on Little Bridge off the home bend and with two furlongs to race.
That gap was whittled back to about a length at the furlong pole as Little Bridge hit top gear and Purton guided the five-year-old to a victory by three-quarters of a length.
"I always thought I was going to win. The other horse [Leading City] is a bit one-paced but can keep going and he put the pressure on from the 600 metres. My bloke's got a good turn of foot, so I just wanted to sit and wait a bit," said Purton.
"But by Tim [Clark, jockey] doing that on Leading City, he just dragged a little bit of the heat out of me, so when I pressed him it wasn't immediate. But once he hit top gear he was never going to get beat."
The winning trainer said Little Bridge would depart for England in the middle of May, with the King's Stand Stakes his primary objective, although he is also entered for the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
Hong Kong-trained mare Sweet Sanette ran third in the 2011 King's Stand Stakes, but the race is likely to prove stronger this year with Australian-trained Group 1 winners Ortensia and Foxwedge likely to take part, along with another Hong Kong star, Joy And Fun.
"I'm hoping to stable him somewhere in or around Lambourn. We will get that sorted out in the next couple of weeks and I want to be there with him as much as possible as I ride him trackwork nearly every day here," Shum said.
"I don't think we will be going for the July Cup as he is best fresh. The next race I have in mind for him after that is in Japan in September, theSprinters' Stakes as part of the Global Sprint Challenge."