Saturday’s inaugural S$1.5 million SIN-G1 Kranji Mile (1600m) sees Hong Kong launch a two-pronged attack on Singapore’s richest race as international racing returns to the Lion City for the first time since 2015.
Representing Hong Kong in the Mile are five-year-old Southern Legend for trainer Caspar Fownes and seven-year-old Horse Of Fortune for South African handler Tony Millard.
Three-time champion trainer Fownes is well acquainted with Kranji, best-known for his victories in three G1 KrisFlyer International Sprints – twice with Lucky Nine (2013 and 2014) and once with Green Birdie (2010).
For Millard, Horse Of Fortune will be the first time the South African has sent a runner around the Kranji circuit.
After the scratching of United Kingdom’s entrant Here Comes When, the overseas contingent is completed by the Hong Kong-owned Ocean Emperor for New Zealand. The six-year-old entire by Zabeel has won seven races from 22 starts for 2012 Cox Plate-winning trainer Gary Hennessy.
Ocean Emperor, a three-quarter brother to the John Moore-trained Easy Go Easy Win, boasts two wins at G2 level, the Tauranga Stakes (1600m) last November and the Japan New Zealand International Trophy (1600m) at his last start on 24 March.
These three overseas raiders are set to lock horns with 10 local runners, six of which were seen contesting the SIN-G2 Chairman’s Trophy (1600m) on 27 April.
Former Hong Kong-based galloper Circuit Land, at only his second local start for trainer Lee Freedman, came out on top that day in a fighting finish with reigning Singapore Horse of the Year and last year’s Derby winner, Infantry.
The pair held off trainer Cliff Brown’s fast finishing SIN-G3 Committee’s Prize (1600m) winner Elite Excalibur by a length on the wire, with fourth place Preditor a nose behind and Nova Strike, fifth, a further half-length astern.
For new Kranji trainer Donna Logan, she admits nerves are running high ahead of the Kranji Mile as it will be the first time locals will see her multiple Group winner Volkstok’n’barrell.
According to Logan, the six-year-old – well-known for his 2015 G1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) win – has acclimatised well but she also acknowledged that his late arrival to Singapore, due to hold ups with vaccinations and other travel constraints, means his preparation is a touch behind.
Saturday also includes two important series finales, namely the Lion City Cup (SIN-G1 1200m, 3rd Leg of the Singapore Sprint Series) and the Singapore Guineas (SIN-G1 1600m, 3rd Leg of the Singapore 3-Year-Old Challenge).