Kranji Mile (1600m) contenders Southern Legend and Singapore Sling stretched their legs on the Polytrack Thursday (23 May) morning, and while the defending champion maintained a steady metronomic motion, the first-time raider enlivened the session with a hint of dash.
Singapore Sling breezed down the home straight at a fluid clip under work rider Cheung Hui Ming; a sprightly workout without undue exertion that connections hope will send him into Saturday’s (25 May) Singapore feature at the peak of his game.
“He did just what he would have done in Hong Kong: he cantered around, we let him stretch his legs; bring him to his top and ease him back – it wasn’t a set time,” Beverly Millard said after watching the work, and having already reported over the phone to her husband, trainer Tony Millard.
Mrs. Millard is a vital cog in Team Millard. She would likely have been aboard Singapore Sling this morning were she not recovering from knee surgery, just as she was 12 months ago when helping to prepare the stable’s Horse Of Fortune for a game second behind Southern Legend.
Singapore Sling, though, is a cut above last year’s Millard representative. The 2018 Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) hero heads into the weekend off a season’s best second to the untouchable Beauty Generation in the Group 1 Champions Mile, beaten a length and a half. Southern Legend brought similar form last term – third to the Hong Kong champion in the same race – and sluiced to an easy score.
Singapore Sling seems to have settled in well and was this morning alert to the new distraction of a gaggle of mainly Hong Kong press observing his every move.
“He did his work at home, he had that 1400-metre gallop on Friday, so we’ve done like last year (with Horse Of Fortune), just keeping him ticking over, keeping him fresh and happy,” Millard continued.
“He’s happy, he’s nice and bright and quite settled. He’s been a little bit spooky a couple of mornings but it’s lovely and quiet here, we’ve more or less got the track to ourselves so there aren’t too many distractions.
“He seems relaxed. He’s watching everything all the time but that’s what he’s like at home, that’s just him.”
The five-year-old’s trainer was due to land in Singapore today, though was not expected to arrive in time for the lunchtime barrier draw.
Southern Legend’s trainer Caspar Fownes was not at the track either, having saddled two winners at Happy Valley last night. His talented charge, unraced since a flat fifth in the Group 1 Dubai Turf at the end of March, trotted down the back then cantered two laps and appeared to be in good condition under work rider Edward Leung.
The gelding cruised through a barrier trial for big-race pilot Zac Purton last Friday morning before departing for Singapore late that night.
The Singapore Group 1 contest was first opened to international invitees last year and Hong Kong’s duo is aiming to maintain a perfect record. But this time they will have to contend with Singapore’s own star, the rattling deep-closer Debt Collector.