Singapore Sling clung to Nothingilikemore’s coat tails when a determined runner-up in last month’s Hong Kong Classic Mile and trainer Tony Millard is pleased with his charge as he heads into Sunday’s (18 February) rematch over 1800m in the Hong Kong Classic Cup.
“His prep has been good, he’s a fitter horse than last time and he’s well, so we have a chance,” Millard said. “It was a nice run last time but he didn’t win. He was there to win – John Size’s horse just had more speed.”
Nothingilikemore’s superior turn-of-pace was apparent in the first leg of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series as he quickened past Singapore Sling. Neither horse has raced beyond a mile but Millard is hopeful that a little more emphasis on stamina will better suit his charge in Sunday’s second leg.
“I trained Singapore Sling’s great grandmother and she won up to 2200m, so there’s a lot of stamina. The way he runs suggests that he will like a little bit further,” Millard said of his South African import, a Group 2 winner at 1600m.
“It’s going to be a very tactical race, I think. The horse to beat this time is Exultant, in my opinion – I think Tony Cruz’s horse comes into it, the way he ran on last time. But if they go slow, they might as well give it to John Size because that will play into Nothingilikemore’s hands.
“Singapore Sling ran up close last time, so I’m not particularly worried about the pace, but it doesn’t matter if he’s a bit far back, he can come from behind as well,” he added.
Chad Schofield was in the irons for last month’s Classic Mile effort. The jockey is set to continue the partnership on Sunday, having opted for Millard’s contender over the Richard Gibson-trained Rattan, a horse he has partnered to three wins and two seconds from five starts this term.
“Rattan and the owners and Richard Gibson have been so good to me this season; just with Singapore Sling running so well in the Classic Mile, it forced my hand a little bit, but Rattan’s a very good horse in his own right and he’s certainly not going to disappoint his connections in a race like this,” Schofield said.
“It really was a good run from Singapore Sling in the Classic Mile. He did have the run of the race and everything to suit, but he sat up on a hot speed and what really impressed me the most was how strong he was on the line and through the line. If you take that into account heading into further races, it definitely looks ideal.”
Singapore Sling will break from gate two, one spot off the fence berth which Exultant will occupy. Nothingilikemore has drawn gate seven of 13.
“We have a favourable draw, there should be a good pace on and he’s one of the leading chances, that’s for sure,” Schofield said.
“There’s a long run into the first turn in the Classic Cup and Singapore Sling’s a horse who can be wherever you want him to be really. He does have gate speed but he can also relax for you.”
The field also features Classic Mile third, Morethanlucky – trainer Frankie Lor has dispensed with the gelding’s blinkers this time. The Golden Age, Rivet, Ruthven, Doctor Geoff, Goldfield, Patriot Hero, Grand Chancellor and Beauty Miles complete the line-up.
Sunday’s 11-race card will start at 12.30pm with the Class 5 Yue Yee Handicap (1400m) and will end with the Class 3 Kut Cheong Handicap (1400m) at 5.50pm. The afternoon also features the Class 1 Chinese New Year Cup Handicap (1400m).