05/01/2011 2:13PM

Sha Tin: Ambitious Dragon wins Queen Elizabeth II Cup

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Ambitious Dragon capped an ambitious and successful Hong Kong season with a comfortable victory Sunday at Sha Tin in the Group 1, $1.8 million Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup. Away slowly under jockey Douglas Whyte, Ambitious Dragon was 10th along the fence with a half-mile to run in the 2,000-meter race, but Whyte guided Ambitious Dragon outside and between horses before the final 400 meters, and Ambitious Dragon, the 2.3-1 favorite, accelerated strongly to win by three-quarters of a length over fast-finishing California Memory.

The win was a Hong Kong record-equaling seventh of the racing season, which began last fall, and all this from a horse who failed to win any of his four starts during the 2009–10 Hong Kong season. Trained by Tony Millard, Ambitious Dragon, winner of the Group 1 Hong Kong Derby in his most recent race, is a 4-year-old (on Southern Hemisphere time) New Zealand-bred by the Australian sire Pins. Whyte picked up the mount only because Maxime Guyon, aboard for Ambitious Dragon’s last four races, stayed in France over the weekend to ride for trainer Andre Fabre.

California Memory closed fast along the inside and between horses, rallying from second-to-last a quarter-mile from the finish. While the winner is headed for a rest, California Memory is expected to go on to the Singapore Cup later this month.

Mighty High, Irian, and Viva Pataca – three more Hong Kong-based horses – finished third, fourth, and fifth, respectively, with the Mike de Kock-trained mare River Jetez a decent sixth. Wigmore Hall, a troubled and promising third in the Dubai Duty Free, barely lifted his feet while finishing 11th of 14.

Earlier in the day, heavily favored Sacred Kingdom finished second, beaten a half-length by Multiglory, in the Group 2 Sprint Cup over 1,200 meters.