Horse racing: Good draw for favourites at Kranji Mile

Boniface Ho, the owner of likely race favourite Southern Legend, was thrilled with the plum No. 1 stall for his horse.
Boniface Ho, the owner of likely race favourite Southern Legend, was thrilled with the plum No. 1 stall for his horse. PHOTO: SINGAPORE TURF CLUB

HK's Southern Legend draws stall 1, local star Infantry gets gate 3 for S'pore's richest race

The label will stick - and not just because it has such a nice ring to it. Regardless of the outcome, the 2018 Kranji Mile on Super Saturday will go down in racing annals at the "Hottest Race In The Tropics".

And yesterday, in the changing light of dusk and far from the green, green grass of the Kranji Racecourse, where the horse is not so much a way of life, but a reason for breathing, it was "starters up".

The venue was Clarke Quay's Fountain Square and there the dream began with the barrier draw for the $1.5 million Group 1 race, the richest in Singapore.

Scattered around, trainers, owners, jockeys and destinies mingled. But any apparent nonchalance was just a cover.

Fingers crossed, they waited to witness the business of where their precious horses would "jump" from in the 1,600m contest.

While it may have seemed a frivolous exercise to Clarke Quay's usual festive crowd, it was serious stuff for the connections involved.

After all, by yesterday, the "donkey work" had been done. Like a hand being fitted for a glove, trainers had smoothened out the rough edges and, over at the stables the horse was as right as could be.

But a bad draw could ruin all the good work. So, they fretted.

Boniface Ho, the owner of likely race favourite Southern Legend, was thrilled with the plum No. 1 stall for his horse. He said: "He should run prominently. He won three from start to finish and the rest coming from midfield or right at the back. So he's quite versatile. From barrier 1, he can go forward."

Another very satisfied guest was champion jockey Vlad Duric. His mount, Infantry, drew Stall 3 which he said was "the perfect place to be". He added: "My horse is in great form and I'm really confident."

By 8.30pm, the party had wound down and the horsemen returned Clarke Quay to its rightful owners, the party animals. Many had said they wanted an early night but few would sleep soundly.

After all, in this subculture of sawdust and feed buckets, they all knew that even the best draw did not guarantee anything.

Only one thing is certain.

Racing does not linger on its fallen. So, good draw, bad draw... whatever. To win the big one on Super Saturday, their horse must break the hearts of the best milers around.

And that is just putting it mildly.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2018, with the headline 'Good draw for favourites'. Print Edition | Subscribe