Hong Kong raider Little Bridge hit the front a furlong from the wire and easily held off the late charge of Bated Breath to win the $542,500 King's Stand Stakes (Eng-I) by three-quarters of a length at Royal Ascot June 19.
The victory by the gelded son of Faltaat improved his overall record to 10 wins in 20 starts. It was the first group I victory for Little Bridge, who had captured the Hong Kong Sprint Cup (HK-II) in his previous start.
A field of 23 went to the post in the King's Stand, with Aussie raider Ortensia and French-trained Wizz Kid going off the joint 9-2 favorites. Also highly regarded by the betting public was Bated Breath, who was seeking to notch his first group I victory. Fairly overlooked in the race was Little Bridge, who was sent off at 12-1.
There was a bit of drama before the start of the race when Masamah began acting up badly in the starting stalls and was withdrawn by race officials. At the start, it was Qatar Prix de l'Abbaye (Fr-I) winner Tangerine Trees that went to the front to set the pace. He was tracked closely by Little Bridge and Ponty Acclaim, as Ortensia raced in mid-pack.
With a furlong left to run, jockey Zac Purton asked Little Bridge to go and the response was immediate, as the gelding shot past Tangerine Trees and took the lead. Bated Breath made a charge on the outside under James Doyle, but could get no closer than the winner's flank, as Little Bridge crossed the wire three-quarters of a length in front.
Bated Breath had to settle for second once again, with Sole Power a length further back in third. Ortensia, who was slightly worked up before the race, was never a factor and finished ninth.
The final time for the five-furlong dash was 59.69 seconds over the good to soft going.
Danny Shum, who trains Little Bridge for owner Ko Kam Piu, told reporters after the race, "I'm very happy and Zac did a very good job. My team has done a really fantastic job and I don't know how to say how happy I am."
Little Bridge was bred in New Zealand by Llanhennock Trust. He is out of the winning Gold Brose mare Golden Rose.