Little Bridge (NZ) Makes History in G1 King's Stand StakesWednesday, Jun 20, 2012
The New Zealand bred Karaka graduate Little Bridge (NZ) made history in England just a few hours ago when he became the first New Zealand bred horse to win the £350,000 Group 1 King's Stand Stakes (1000m) at Royal Ascot.
The fourth leg of the Global Sprint Challenge, the Group 1 King's Stand Stakes has been won by some of the sprinting greats including Habibti, Last Tycoon, Indian Ridge, Pivotal and more recently southern hemisphere raiders Choisir, Takeover Target and Miss Andretti.
Prepared by Hong Kong trainer Danny Shum, Little Bridge (Faltaat x Golden Rose) raced prominently on the far side of the track in the Group 1 King's Stand Stakes, settling just off the pace set by Tangerine Trees (Mind Games).
Little Bridge (NZ) wins the Group 1 King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot. Photo courtesy of the HKJC.
In a patient ride from jockey Zac Purton, he kept quiet on Little Bridge who was cruising 400 metres from home, and asked him to quicken 300 metres out. Taking the lead, Purton got busy on the son of Faltaat with Bated Breath (Dansili) and Sole Power (Kyllachy) coming home late, but in a driving finish the six-year-old held on comfortably to claim an outstanding three-quarter length victory.
A delighted Danny Shum said after the race he was confident Little Bridge would put in a bold effort in the race.
"He instilled a lot of confidence in me after his final gallop in Newmarket coming into the race," said Shum. "Zac Purton rode him in that gallop and said he went very well so we were confident he would run a good race."
"We will give the horse two days rest and then put him into quarantine in preparation for his trip back to Hong Kong. We will now look to take him to Japan in September."
Jockey Zac Purton has ridden Little Bridge in nine of his ten career wins and produced a brilliant ride to win one of the Royal Ascot features.
"When the gates opened he sprung almost two lengths clear and spent the first 200 metres with his ears pricked taking it all in," said Purton.
"I have ridden him enough times to know what I had under me so when we got to the 200 metre mark and I pushed the button I knew there would be something there.
"This horse has really come on in the last six months and we came here confident that he would put in a good performance. It was hard to gauge the form around the European horses but we knew he was capable of being right there in the finish."
Bred in New Zealand by Des Hawkins' Llanhennock Trust, Little Bridge was purchased by Margaret Harkema from Wentwood Grange for just $9,000 at New Zealand Bloodstock's 2007 National Weanling Sale.
Little Bridge won the Group 2 Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) earlier in the season and came into the King's Stand Stakes after two consecutive stakes wins in Hong Kong - the HK-3 Bauhinia Sprint Trophy (1000m) and HK-2 Sprint Cup (1200m).
Raced by Ko Kam Piu, Little Bridge has won 10 of his 20 starts for over $2 million in stakes.
Little Bridge is the first New Zealand galloper to win a Group 1 race at the highly prestigious Royal Ascot meeting. He is also one of two Karaka graduates to have won a Group 1 race in England in the last 12 months with So You Think (NZ) (High Chaparral) winning the Group 1 Eclipse Stakes (2000m) in 2011.
Karaka has also been represented in England's Group 1 ranks by the World Champion Older Miler Starcraft (NZ) (Soviet Star) who won the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (1600m) in 2005, a race won by the world champion Frankel (Galileo) last year.
The Group 1 King's Stand Stakes victory was a big result for Little Bridge's sire Faltaat (Mr Prospector), a resident sire at Westbury Stud. The sire of 21 stakes winners including Group 1 winners Tit for Tat, Taatletail, Sedecrem, Jurys Out, Miss Raggedy Ann and Sight Winner, Faltaat's progeny have won over $30 million worldwide.
To view a replay of the Group 1 King's Stand Stakes, click here.
Day two of Royal Ascot will commence live on Trackside at 1.30am (NZ time) tomorrow and will see the Karaka graduate So You Think shoot for his tenth Group 1 win in the £500,000 Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes (2000m) at 2.45am tomorrow morning (NZ time).