Southern Legend heads to Happy Valley on Wednesday (8 January) night for the G3 January Cup Handicap (1800m), aiming to prove his last run to be nothing more than a blip in an otherwise admirable campaign.
The high-class seven-year-old caused an upset when defeating G1 winners Exultant and Time Warp in the G3 Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse Handicap (1800m) at Sha Tin in November, but finished well down the field behind Glory Vase in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase last time – his first attempt at 2400m.
Caspar Fownes’ G1-placed charge will reunite with a formidable ally, champion jockey Zac Purton, who is set to take the reins for the first time since the pair bagged a second successive victory in the SIN G1 Kranji Mile (1600m) in Singapore last May.
“He’s been racing well all season – he looks as if he’s gone to another level this season,” said Purton, who believes the gelding had a sound excuse for finishing more than 10 lengths off the winner last time.
The Australian ace partnered the front-running Exultant to third place on that occasion, with Alberto Sanna stalking him on the rail aboard Southern Legend who faded out in the home straight.
“The first half of the race was run fast and it was going to be hard for Southern Legend to end up staying, so it was a good effort in the end, I thought,” Purton said.