Horse racing: Southern legend all class

Hong Kong's Southern Legend giving jockey Zac Purton an armchair ride in last night's $1.5 million Group 1 Kranji Mile. The Australian jockey also won the $1 million Group 1 Singapore Guineas aboard Mr Clint.
Hong Kong's Southern Legend giving jockey Zac Purton an armchair ride in last night's $1.5 million Group 1 Kranji Mile. The Australian jockey also won the $1 million Group 1 Singapore Guineas aboard Mr Clint.PHOTO: SALWA SUANDI FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES

Horse Of Fortune runs second to give Hong Kong a 1-2 finish in the $1.5 million Kranji Mile

Hong Kong picked up where it left off in 2015 as the Chinese territory took home last night's $1.5 million invitational Kranji Mile, Singapore's richest race, with even-money favourite Southern Legend.

For good measure, the racing-mad city provided the quinella when its other representative, Horse Of Fortune, finished second by three lengths in the Group 1 race, which was the prelude to the return of next year's $3 million international race.

Nova Strike, the least-backed of the 10 Singapore horses at $623 for a win, was a surprise third, a length further back, followed by Singapore's Clarton Super.

New Zealand's Ocean Emperor, the other overseas contender, ran eighth in the 13-horse field.

Before the $3 million Singapore Airlines International Cup (2,000m) and $1 million KrisFlyer International Sprint (1,200m) were discontinued in 2016, Hong Kong won the stupendous SIA Cup-KrisFlyer double three years in a row, from 2013 to 2015.

Owned by Boniface Ho, Southern Legend gave three-time Hong Kong champion trainer Caspar Fownes his fourth major success in Singapore, having won the KrisFlyer with Green Birdie (2010) and Lucky Nine (2013 and 2014). This makes him the overseas trainer with the most big wins at Kranji.

"It's always been fun coming here and I'm happy to get this result. He was the horse that was just starting to come to hand at the right time," said Fownes.

  • 2018 KRANJI MILE

  • 1 Southern Legend (Win: $10, place: $6)

  • 2 Horse Of Fortune ($11, 3 lengths)

  • 3 Nova Strike ($99, 1 length)

  • 4 Clarton Super (neck)

  • Forecast: $15

  • Tierce: $1,738

  • Trio: $551

  • Quartet: $33,855 ($9,279 carried forward to the next race)

The trainer must have been giggling when Southern Legend led with plenty in hand after jumping swiftly from the innermost barrier. Although Singapore's Maximus crossed in to tackle the leader, jockey Zac Purton was unperturbed. Jockey Karis Teetan kept the front pair honest by tracking them within reach.

When Purton released the brakes, Southern Legend's class showed, tearing away to win as he liked.

The top Australian, who won the 2013 SIA Cup on Military Attack and the 2015 KrisFlyer on Aerovelocity, said he did not have a plan and just wanted to be in a good position and let things work out.

"I didn't think there was much speed in the race. I wanted to lead if I could. I was just a little worried mid-race when Karis Teetan on Horse Of Fortune on the outside of me kept kicking up in between myself and the horse that was three wide," he said. "My horse wasn't over-racing or travelling too fierce. I knew I was in a nice rhythm and, when I let him down at the 400m, I knew he would be hard to beat."

Just a race earlier, Purton won the $1 million Group 1 Singapore Guineas over 1,600m on the Lee Freedman-trained Mr Clint.

The other $1 million Group 1 feature on Singapore's Super Saturday - the Lion City Cup over 1,200m - was won for the second year running by the Stephen Gray-trained Lim's Cruiser (Glen Boss).

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 27, 2018, with the headline 'Southern legend all class'. Print Edition | Subscribe