Douglas Whyte celebrates taking the Jockey Club Mile on Glorious DaysPICTURE: HKJC
Glorious Days too good for Ambitious Dragon
Report: Hong Kong, Sunday
Sha Tin: The Jockey Club Mile (Gr.2) 8f, turf, 3yo+
GLORIOUS DAYS (John Size/Douglas Whyte) threw down the gauntlet to Ambitious Dragon and any of the big overseas names he may face in the Longines Hong Kong Mile after a decisive victory in the Jockey Club Mile.
Fitted with blinkers for the first time, the heavily backed15-8 second favourite Glorious Days eased into serious contention at the top of the straight when the 4-5 chance Ambitious Dragon travelled ominously well on his outside.
The market picks duelled thereafter, but Glorious Days established a break by the furlong pole and extended for a comfortable length-and-a-half margin at the line.
Evening the score to one-all after the second clash this season of what could be a sequence of tussles between two of Hong Kong's highest rated thoroughbreds, Glorious Days was in receipt of 5lbs from the dual Horse of the Year.
The pair seem quite evenly matched if they meet again in the Mile in three weeks at level weights, but the current momentum is with Glorious Days.
Trainer Tony Millard is on record as saying he will target either the Mile or the Cup - "whichever seems the more winnable" - next for Ambitious Dragon.
John Size has fewer equivocations regarding the next assignment for the best horse in his yard and perhaps Glorious Days will be the one to finally give the seven-time champion trainer a first success at Hong Kong's flagship fixture.
"He has always promised to do that, it was just a matter of whether he delivered," the trainer said.
"We were thinking about blinkers as soon as he got into Group company and when he started to look as though he was intimidated a couple of times in defeat.
"I don't think you could ask more of his effort today. It was a pretty big run going into a big race, which is always a discomfort, but he's got three weeks to get over it. Hopefully he might repeat," Size added.
"I think if he just repeated that run, then that would be enough [on December 9]. To ask him to step up after a run such as that would be asking too much."
Commenting on the addition of the headgear, winning jockey Douglas Whyte added: "I always thought, in the last four runs, that he would need blinkers and that they would really switch him on, but you never know until you get to race day.
"You always get nervous when you're on the fence with Ambitious Dragon on your outside, but my guy let down really well and we beat him fair and square."
Pure Champion finished third having positioned prominently in an evenly run race.
On his first start for the season, the dual Champions Mile winner Xtension was a little one-paced in fifth, beaten three-and-a-half lengths.