Southern Legend has been a giant killer in Hong Kong this season, but the hunter becomes the hunted in Singapore on Saturday night.
Caspar Fownes’ five-year-old knocked off odds-on pops Nothingilikemore and Pakistan Star in separate races over the past six months but after finishing third in the Group One Champions Mile last start, he is set to start favourite in the revamped Kranji Mile.
The trainer is happy with how Southern Legend has travelled and believes he is at the top of his game in terms of fitness, having won a trial before jumping on a plane last week.
So given the gelding is the highest-rated runner in the race, gets in well under the set weights conditions and has landed barrier one, Fownes is going in with plenty of confidence.
“He’ll be in a prominent position – we won’t be giving up the lovely gate. We know the horse is very versatile, he’s won from the back and he’s won leading, so we’ll use that to our advantage and then it’s up to Zac [Purton] to ride his race,” he said.
“Now it’s a case of looking at his class to get him through. He’s on the improve all the time and he’s going to keep improving over the next few months as well. I think after the summer break we’ll see the best of this horse.”
The other Hong Kong representative in the invitational event is the Tony Millard-trained Horse Of Fortune, who will jump right beside his compatriot after drawing barrier two.
Horse Of Fortune has been running fairly without winning this season, with his last victory coming in the Group Three Premier Plate (1,800m) in June.
Millard believes Southern Legend is the one to beat on form, but still gives his charge a chance if things fall his way.
“My horse is taking on quite a bit here because Caspar’s horse has the class and the form to win this – he’s got all the plusses – you have to respect the form and the form says Southern Legend is the class horse,” he said.
“My horse is good on his day, he can run in the top class when you get him really well. He comes well at this time of year – he won at this time last year – so there’s no reason why he can’t run well. He’s in good shape.”
Former Hong Kong galloper Circuit Land, now trained by Lee Freedman, is also among the field of 13, with Volkstok’n’barrell, Ocean Emperor, Elite Excalibur and 2017 Singapore Horse of the Year Infantry the other leading hopes.
The Jockey Club will simulcast seven races from Kranji on Saturday, including the Lion City Cup and Singapore Guineas, with the opening event getting underway at 5.15pm.