Champions Day looms as the first true test of the 2018 BMW Hong Kong Derby form and Chad Schofield is backing the tactical versatility of this year’s runner-up Singapore Sling to come to the fore in the HK$18 million Champions Mile.
Singapore Sling was arguably the most consistent horse of this year’s four-year-old series; after a second to Nothingilikemore in the Classic Mile, he won the Classic Cup before finishing second to a rampant Ping Hai Star in the Derby.
Ping Hai Star sticks to 2,000m for the Audemars Piguet QE II Cup but trainer Tony Millard has elected to bring Singapore Sling back to a trip where at Sha Tin, tactics often trump overall ability.
“Tactically he is bombproof, he jumps well, he has early speed and he can relax when you want him to,” Schofield said. “He is a nice horse to ride and a mile with a quicker pace than at 2,000m will suit him. He is a horse with a turn of foot, so a sit-and-sprint race wouldn’t hurt.
Singapore Sling scored his biggest Hong Kong win to date in the Hong Kong Classic Cup in February with @SchofieldChad aboard. The pair will attempt to claim the G1 Champions Mile on Sunday #HKChampionsDay #HKRacing pic.twitter.com/wI56wF0gtB— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) April 26, 2018
“But then again, in the Classic Cup and Derby the pace was quite genuine and he stuck on really well. The ideal scenario might be just behind the pace, in a slowly run race.”
The Derby form was given what could be termed a mini test when Derby third-place getter Exultant was a dour second over 2,200m in a Class Two a fortnight ago.
Schofield wasn’t taking too much of a line through that performance and instead hopes Singapore Sling’s shift back to what looks his best trip comes up trumps.
“I would have liked Exultant to show a bit more, but my horse has had a nice break since his last run, he is back to a mile and he is nice and fresh,” he said.
“Let’s hope he can prove he is up to them. He is taking on the big boys and it will be interesting to see how he measures up. A lot of these older horses have had hard seasons, so hopefully the nice preparation Tony has given him gives my horse an edge.”
Schofield last rode the South African import in a track gallop last Friday as the gelding worked home his last 400 metres in 22.5 seconds.
“He felt great, he worked with Horse of Fortune, who he worked with into the Derby and it was similar work,” he said.