Singapore Sling’s fleet-footed closing burst at Happy Valley last month has the classy bay’s connections eyeing a big-race upset in the HK$10 million Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) at Sha Tin on Sunday, 21 January.
“It looks like John Size has a strong hold on that race and Tony Cruz has a good hand, too, but a race is a race and my horse is well; he’s had a good preparation and I’m very happy with him,” trainer Tony Millard said.
The South African handler’s Sha Tin neighbour, Size, is responsible for two of the 13 entrants heading into the first leg of Hong Kong’s Four-Year-Old Classic Series: Nothingilikemore is top-rated and a likely short-priced favourite thanks to an impressive record of five wins from six starts since his debut almost a year ago; Time To Celebrate is three from five since he stepped out in September.
Singapore Sling’s rating of 93 is 19 points shy of Nothingilikemore’s standout mark, but Millard is unfazed after his charge’s victory three weeks ago at only his second Hong Kong outing.
“When you look at the pecking order, Singapore Sling looks to be in with a chance – his rating says he has to find something more but it’s not all about rating, it’s about a horse’s form and my horse is in form,” he said.
The Philanthropist gelding landed a Group 2 over 1600m in South Africa before running seventh of 16 in the G1 Cape Guineas (1600m). That was in his early three-year-old season and while his latest win over 1650m at the Valley confirmed he is still sharp at a mile, Millard believes the Nikki Ng-owned talent could shine brightest over farther.
“I think 1600 metres is fine but it’s his minimum, I think he will improve over 1800 and 2000 metres,” he said.
Chad Schofield held Singapore Sling’s reins in two barrier trials earlier this term before relinquishing them to Nash Rawiller and then the triumphant Tommy Berry. With Berry aboard Good Standing on Sunday for his boss, John Moore, Schofield was back aboard Singapore Sling for a gallop on Monday (15 January) morning and is optimistic about race day.
“I’m happy to be back on him, he ran really well last time,” Schofield said. “We know he’s got good ability and he’s settled down now in Hong Kong, so he’s ready to run a nice race.
“To go to Happy Valley and do what he did was a very good sign and there’s no doubt Sha Tin’s a better track for him, and I think a mile is a pretty good trip for him at the moment.”
The Hong Kong Classic Mile field also includes the exciting Cruz-trained Exultant, as well as the Group 1 winners Ruthven and Rivet, and the G1-placed Lockheed.