Article Date: 20-June-2012
Royal Ascot’s Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes, part of the Global Sprint Challenge and the QIPCO British Champions Series, has become a feast for overseas raiders, and it continued the recent trend when falling to Hong Kong’s Little Bridge on Tuesday.
The winner became the second horse from that country to score at the Royal Meeting, but the first at Ascot - Cape Of Good Hope landed the Golden Jubilee Stakes when the meeting was held at York in 2005 during the course’s massive redevelopment.
Little Bridge is trained by Danny Shum and ridden by Zac Purton who wore the colours of Ko Kam Piu. Shum visited Ascot in 1999 while working for Ivan Allan, who sent Indigenous over for the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (sponsored by Betfair).
“I’m very happy,” said Shum, who trains 58 horses in Hong Kong. “Zac did a good job and my team has been fantastic. I really like this country and began planning to come here with this horse six months ago.
“I intend to run Little Bridge in Japan in September, where he will have a choice of Group One and Group Two races. If that works out we might think about coming back here next year. I didn’t expect to win, but I felt he could run a big race.
“He gave me great hope after his final gallop at Newmarket, but it was more hope than confidence.
“It is very important to me as a trainer to win an international race in Britain. My plan now is to kiss him tonight, then give him two days’ rest and then send him into quarantine in Newmarket. He will stay there for four weeks, then ship back to Hong Kong for another two weeks in quarantine.
“I’m planning to take a holiday in the USA, but I won’t be going for a party tonight even though the owner has invited me - I just want to go with the horse to make sure he is okay.”
Zac Purton made his first ride in Britain a winning one with a confident display on Danny Shum’s Hong Kong raider Little Bridge in the Group One King’s Stand Stakes.
Purton started his career as an apprentice in Australia, but moved to Hong Kong five years ago and after a tough first season he quickly established himself as a leading pilot.
Although Little Bridge had raced predominantly round a bend at Sha Tin, Purton was confident Ascot’s straight course would suit the six-year-old.
Purton said: “As you have seen today Little Bridge is a very nice horse. He is a straight track specialist so I knew it would suit him and he can run further than this so I was confident he would be strong at the finish.
“He is up there with the best I have ridden and he has given me a great thrill. He exploded out of the gates onto the bridle and went over the first 200 metres with his ears pricked. I was never worried as he was always travelling really well and because I have ridden him I knew exactly what he’d got left and when I pressed the button he kicked nicely.
“This is really good for Hong Kong racing as our horses have travelled abroad this year and fired a few blanks, so it’s good to get one to hit the target.
“It means everything to come here and ride a winner. I can look back in years to come and have very fond memories as everyone around the world wants to be involved at Royal Ascot.”
After setting a course record in the Temple Stakes at Haydock, Bated Breath came into the Kings Stand with every chance but found one too good in Little Bridge.
His trainer Roger Charlton commented after Bated Breath was beaten three quarters of a length by Little Bridge: “His second name is consistency, that’s the fourth Group One race he has been second in. He’s run against Sole Power four times and beaten him each time and in course record time in the Temple Stakes (Group Two at Haydock on May 26).
“James (Doyle) gave him a great ride and he travelled as well as anything with a furlong to run and then James has said he just didn’t pick up in that ground. I walked it yesterday and thought it was beautiful and perfect but the jockeys are saying it is just on the slow side, I’m not saying it has made a difference but I would have preferred it to be faster.”
Asked about Bated Breaths entry in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes on Saturday Charlton replied:“I think it is very unlikely that we would come back on Saturday unless Ascot misses all the rain and the ground is fast - then we would consider it. I will see how it is on Friday and then again half an hour before the race on Saturday, but if they have the rain on Thursday there is probably not a lot of point in declaring on Thursday.”
Eddie Lynam, trainer of the third home Sole Power, said: “He ran very well, I walked the track at about half twelve and thought the ground was too slow to fancy him but not bad enough to take him out. So I let him take his chance.
“As he does all the time, he ran with great credit in the light of his draw. We all have excuses. I have one and the second and the fourth probably do as well but we feel that we would have done better with a different draw.
“Take nothing away from the winner or the second, but let’s hope he wins one of these soon. He will have a little holiday now and then it is the Nunthorpe and the Abbaye.”
Read Ian Carnaby's Royal Ascot reports in The Irish Field on Saturday. Online from 10.30pm Friday
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