A total of 21 entries, including four from overseas, were received at the close of the First Nominations for the $1.5 million Group 1 Kranji Mile (1600m) on Wednesday.
The four overseas entries for the May 25 showpiece all hail from Hong Kong, headed by last year’s inaugural winner, the Caspar Fownes-trained Southern Legend. Fownes, a regular visitor at the Singapore international races, especially during the Lucky Nine golden era, has also nominated Rise High while the other two nominations are Singapore Sling prepared by Tony Millard and Pingwu Spark trained by Benno Yung Tin-pang.
The highest rated among the four entries from the Club at Sports Road on 116 points, Southern Legend, a six-year-old by Not A Single Doubt, has not won again since his Kranji triumph in May 2018, but has often been placed in Sha Tin feature races, including a third place to Beauty Generation in the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Mile (1600m) in December and a second place in the Group 1 Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) in February.
He also just contested the Grade 1 Dubai Turf (1800m) at Meydan, running a creditable sixth to Japanese champion mare Almond Eye.
Southern Legend winning the 2018 Kranji Mile, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
Singapore Sling has long been in the mix for a shot at the international races in the country where the world-famous cocktail he is named after originates from. Millard, who saddled the Kranji Mile runner-up Horse Of Fortune for a Hong Kong quinella last year, has a high opinion of South Africa’s 2016 Grade 2 Dingaans (1600m) winner.
After the South African-bred five-year-old son of Philanthropist ran second in the 2018 Group 1 BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m), he has, however, not quite replicated that performance at subsequent Group raids, but did run a pleasing fourth to Beauty Generation in the Group 2 Chairman’s Trophy (1600m) on Sunday.
A grey six-year-old by Mastercraftsman, Pingwu Spark has long been one of fifth-season trainer Yung’s better horses, winning five races from seven starts (1200m to 1400m) at his first prep before finding the going tougher at the elite level.
A two-time winner in Ireland, Rise High is a French-bred Myboycharlie five-year-old who is a mile specialist, having recorded all his four Hong Kong wins over that trip. He ran seventh in the same Chairman‘s Trophy on Sunday.
Fresh from his recent nail-biting win in our very own Group 2 Chairman’s Trophy (1600m), Kranji’s current ratings table-topper Debt Collector (122 points) spearheads the home team challenge at that first round of free nominations.
Two other Singapore Horses of the Year also feature on the list, last year’s title holder Elite Invincible and comeback kid War Affair (2014), who is close to his Kranji return after a spell in New Zealand.
Debt Collector’s trainer Cliff Brown along with 2018 Singapore champion trainer Lee Freedman have filed the highest number of entries. Brown has also thrown in Elite Excalibur and Dicton while his Australian colleague’s trio are made up of Circuit Land and Blizzard, who not too long ago, would have carried the Bauhinia flag, and recent winner and UK import Circuit Mission.
Other notable local hopefuls are Singapore Derby winner Jupiter Gold for Hideyuki Takaoka, regular Group staple Countofmontecristo for Michael Clements and new Japanese sensation, Deep Impact entire Mikki Joy for Shane Baertschiger.
The closing date for the second round of nominations is at 12pm on April 30, 2019.
The complete list of First Nominations is as per the list below:
KRANJI MILE 2019
1600M TURF - S$1,500,000 MILLION
3 YEAR OLDS AND UPWARDS
SATURDAY, 25 MAY 2019
HONG KONG (4) TRAINER
PINGWU SPARK (NZ) T P YUNG
RISE HIGH (FR) C FOWNES
SINGAPORE SLING (SAF) AT MILLARD
SOUTHERN LEGEND (AUS) C FOWNES
SINGAPORE (17) TRAINER
ALIBI (NZ) M CLEMENTS
BLIZZARD (AUS) DL FREEDMAN
CIRCUIT LAND (USA) DL FREEDMAN
CIRCUIT MISSION (IRE) DL FREEDMAN
CLARTON SUPER (AUS) KS TAN
COUNTOFMONTECRISTO (NZ) M CLEMENTS
DEBT COLLECTOR (NZ) C BROWN
DEE DEE D’OR (IRE) M YUSOF
DICTON (GB) C BROWN
ELITE EXCALIBUR (AUS) C BROWN
ELITE INVINCIBLE (IRE) M WALKER
JUPITER GOLD (AUS) H TAKAOKA
KING LOUIS (AUS) R LE GRANGE
MAKANANI (JPN) H TAKAOKA
MIKKI JOY (JPN) S BAERTSCHIGER
PREDITOR (NZ) S BAERTSCHIGER
WAR AFFAIR (NZ) RB MARSH