Southern Legend is the toast of Singapore again with another effortless victory in the Kranji Mile, kicking off what is shaping up as a massive weekend for superstar jockey Zac Purton.
The Caspar Fownes-trained six-year-old justified his odds-on quote with a dominant display, bouncing back from a flat run in Dubai to claim back-to-back victories in the S$1.5 million (HK$8.5 million) feature.
It was a Hong Kong trio of sorts with Southern Legend beating Ricky Yiu Poon-fai’s former galloper Blizzard (now trained by Lee Freedman) and the Tony Millard-trained Singapore Sling. All three were ridden by Hong Kong-licensed jockeys.
Purton had the race in hand a long way out, cruising to the lead with 350m to go – only giving Southern Legend one reminder – before easing down to salute by two-and-a-half lengths in 1:33.61 – just 0.33 outside the 1,600m track record that has stood for five years.
RACE DAY LIVE @SGTurfClub— Kranji Broadcast TV (@KranjiBroadcast) May 25, 2019
RACE 9 - KRANJI MILE G1 1600m
SOUTHERN LEGEND $8-5.1
T: Caspar Fownes
2 1/2, 1/2, 1 1/4
⌚1:33.61 (.18 quicker than last year)#KranjiMile19 #SGRacingLive #KranjiBroadcast pic.twitter.com/h36lQaF1U6
“I think tonight’s effort was better than last year – that’s full credit to Caspar,” Purton said. “He was a little bit disappointing in Dubai and so to get him to come off that run and then get him here at his next start and perform like that – he’s done a great job.
“Our horses are a little bit better than [Singapore’s].
In a surprise move, Karis Teetan pinged straight to the front with Singapore Sling, trying to overcome the outside barrier, but in the end it played into Purton’s hands.
“We were happy to lead or take a sit. When I saw Singapore Sling pressing forward, I was happy to let him go for two reasons – one; I thought the pace was a little bit quick, and two; I don’t think Singapore Sling is as effective when they ride him like that,” the jockey said. “When he started to tire, I had a fresh horse to run over the top of him.”
Teetan felt he had little choice but to press forward from barrier 10.
“There was no speed in the race. We came out two lengths clear of Southern Legend and I couldn’t drag him back and ride him behind some slow horses,” Teetan said. “Our only option was to let him go and try and switch off. He was a little bit keen, but the draw beat us.”
South African jockey Aldo Domeyer got the call-up to partner Blizzard and was delighted with the run.
“I felt like I had a winner – it was a great run,” Domeyer said. “It’s always tough against the Hong Kong horses but he travelled beautifully. It was a cracking run.”
Purton continued his exceptional form at Kranji – he’s ridden there five times and secured five Singapore Group Ones – while he added placings aboard Lim’s Cruiser and Lim’s Lightning in the other big races on the card.
The Australian is looking to continue his good form at Sha Tin on Sunday when he rides the favourite Exultant in the Group One Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup.
“Let’s hope so. It’s an important day, I’d love to win that race,” Purton said. “He’s been a terrific horse all season, he’s a great chance.”
This is just the second renewal of the Kranji Mile since the Singapore Turf Club opened it up to internationals and Fownes has won them both and he’s already planning to come back again if they’ll have him.
“Of course we’ll be back next year,” Fownes said. “He loves Singapore, he travelled up beautiful and was looking a treat the last couple of days so I was very happy. It was pretty exciting.”