Southern Legend and Horse Of Fortune appear to be in good order ahead of Saturday’s Kranji Mile, a race that will mark Singapore racing’s relaunch as an international concern.
The contest, designated a local Group 1 and open to overseas runners for the first time, has also attracted the New Zealand galloper Ocean Emperor, a G2 winner with Hong Kong part-ownership interest. That contender was the first to emerge from the Kranji Racecourse quarantine stables this morning, well before first light (Thursday, 24 May). The Hong Kong-trained duo followed shortly afterwards.
Southern Legend, ears pricked and with a buoyancy to his gait, trotted off down the back-side Polytrack gallop and returned at a similar tempo before cantering two laps of the Polytrack circuit proper. Horse Of Fortune, calm and loose, followed the Caspar Fownes-trained bay onto the inner oval.
Kranji last hosted overseas competition three years ago when the final editions of the G1 Singapore Airlines International Cup and G1 KrisFlyer International Sprint went to Hong Kong’s Dan Excel and Aerovelocity, respectively. In the two years prior, Fownes enjoyed two of his greatest career victories when Lucky Nine landed back-to-back wins in the sprint feature.
The handler, on-site earlier this week, was not around to oversee his latest stable star this morning, having attended last night’s (Wednesday) Happy Valley races in Hong Kong where he was tapped for comment. He was scheduled to be back in Singapore on Thursday afternoon.
“Southern Legend looked well when I saw him, his coat is healthy and shiny, he’s a happy horse,” he said. His observation still held true pre-dawn on Thursday.
Fownes, on Wednesday morning, had watched the talented five-year-old test out the lush turf and was pleased with what he saw. One concern, though, is that the usual equatorial showers might fall heavily in the next couple of days.
“He seemed to enjoy it on the turf,” the former champion trainer continued. “Let’s just hope it doesn’t get too heavy rain-wise. The track is good the way it is. Anything up to yielding would be perfect, but if it starts to get really heavy, there might be a bit of a query.
“He’s in great nick – really enjoying Kranji – and I’ll be very disappointed if he isn’t in the first three.”
Southern Legend’s performances this term hit a peak last start when third to Beauty Generation in the G1 Champions Mile. Throw in a Class 2 score and a pair of Class 1 wins, including a victory over such as Pakistan Star and Western Express, not forgetting a smart fourth in the G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m), and the source of Fownes’s expectation is apparent.
“There’s a bit of opposition there but I certainly think that if everything with him is in good form, which it looks to be, he should be able to hold his own,” he said.
Horse Of Fortune’s handler, Tony Millard, was another making his way to Singapore after attending to business at Happy Valley the previous night. The gelding’s Thursday morning work was left in the capable hands of wife, work rider and all-round “Team Millard” lynchpin, Beverly Millard.
She guided Horse Of Fortune through a lap of the Polytrack, building up steadily before allowing the bay to stride out down the grandstand run, sweeping around the turn and easing down in the backstretch – middling-to-fast work, with the serious training completed before the seven-year-old left Sha Tin.
Mrs. Millard was content with that; pleased, too, with how the “gentleman” horse has started to settle into his surroundings. The two-time G3 winner was unsaddled trackside and allowed to relax, circling at a walk, enjoying the coolness of the morning before heading back to the yard.
The 13-runner field for the Kranji Mile is also set to include ex-Hong Kong racer Circuit Land, fourth in last year’s G1 Champions Mile and a SG2 winner at Kranji last time out. Alexis Badel is booked to ride.
Sunday’s 10-race card features the SG1 Lion City Cup (1200m) and the SG1 Singapore Guineas (1600m).