Adaptability was the watchword after trainer Tony Millard saddled a three-timer at Sha Tin today, Saturday, 22 September.
The South African finished 11th in the trainers’ premiership last term with 34 wins, but, with five on the board at close of play this evening, found himself at the top of the current stack alongside fellow sharp starters Tony Cruz and Jimmy Ting.
“This year I’ve got more horses to train than last year. We’ve now got just about a full string and we’ve got a lot of nice horses,” Millard said after Elusive State, Harbour Alert and Gorgeous King had saluted.
The man who guided the career of Hong Kong champion Ambitious Dragon found his numbers depleted last term and that led to a temporary alteration to his approach.
“I had to change the way that I trained last season and now I’m changing back again,” he said. “You’ve got to have an open mind, look at what you’ve got, and see how you can utilise those horses.
“Michael Freedman came in as a new trainer and I lost some horses, and those that I lost – the old fellas – are the types of horses I’m training again now. That meant that last season we had to be very precise in pinpointing the different races to win but that’s unsustainable here – you have to race them. But that’s how it goes; you have to adapt and that’s what we’ve done.”
Elusive State sparked the Millard treble. The bay was slated to line up in a dirt contest on the Typhoon Mangkhut abandoned card last Sunday; switched to turf today, the five-year-old earned tidy compensation in the Class 4 Los Angeles Handicap (1400m).
“We all had a bit of a hiccup last weekend with the typhoon so it’s nice to pull back with a few winners,” Millard said.
“We didn’t get the run on the dirt last weekend but I wasn’t particularly worried about that, I was just worried about the draw (12) today,” he said after Chad Schofield had driven the former Derek Cruz-trained galloper to a 17/1 victory.