Luckless galloper Southern Legend will head to Dubai in the form of his life as trainer Caspar Fownes dodges the Beauty Generation juggernaut but runs into another.
The six-year-old departs on Tuesday night for the US$6 million Group One Dubai Turf (1,800m) and while he avoids Hong Kong’s superstar, he is set to take on champion Japanese mare Almond Eye in the March 30 clash.
Southern Legend trialled at Sha Tin on Tuesday morning under jockey Zac Purton ahead of his night-time flight to ensure the galloper has no extra work to do when he arrives to Dubai.
“He was just having an easy trial, I am very happy with him,” Fownes said. “It’s going to be exciting to go over for the big race. It is going to be tough, taking on some of the serious horses, especially Almond Eye from Japan.
“We have got to go there but and try our best, it is a US$6 million race so that’s what we are all here for, to try and get these horses up to a level where we can go overseas and compete and bring back some glory for Hong Kong, certainly some prize money at least.”
Southern Legend has performed admirably in Hong Kong this season, placing behind Beauty Generation three times, but he has been unable to break through for a win.
His most recent performance behind dual Group One winner Exultant in the Hong Kong Gold Cup (2,000m) was his best of the season, steaming home from the rear of the field to finish second.
Purton has been booked to ride the horse in Dubai after they paired up to win Singapore Group One Kranji Mile in May last year.
“He loves to get out of here, he travels so well,” Fownes said. “He has gone from a mile to 2,000m so 1,800m looks to be a spot-on distance for him after his eye-catching run in the Gold Cup last time.
“You can’t ask for much more than that, we know Hong Kong horses are very competitive wherever you take them so we just hope he gets a good gate and he will get his chance to perform to his best level.”
Southern Legend trialled strongly over the unsuitable 1,200m trip on the all-weather surface behind Hong Kong Cup winner Glorious Forever.
Fownes has been a frequent traveller to Dubai in his career, having a total of nine starts there for four placings.
His best results came with runner-up performances for Gun Pit in the Group One Al Maktoum Challenge and Dundonnell in 2017.