Singapore Sling is a two-time winner with HK$20.9 million in the bank.
By Declan Schuster
Singapore Sling (123lb) returns to Happy Valley on Wednesday (6 January) night for the first time since December 2017 with jockey Chad Schofield hoping the gelding can maintain his unblemished record at the city circuit in the G3 January Cup Handicap (1800m).
“I think it looks a lovely race for him – he’s been competing at the top-level in Hong Kong for at least two or three seasons now and he just found it a little bit tough after his four-year-old year but he’s very well weighted in this Group 3 at Happy Valley – he has a good draw and I think everything looks suitable,” Schofield said.
Following a trial effort at Sha Tin in December, connections opted to run in tomorrow night’s HK$3.5 million contest rather than face Hong Kong’s best and the might of the Japanese, French and Irish in December’s HK$28 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m).
“I rode him in a trial leading up to the Hong Kong Cup and the connections chose not to run him and instead concentrate on tomorrow night – so hopefully it’s the right move,” the 26-year-old said.
Since Singapore Sling’s one and only visit to Happy Valley – which resulted in a win – he has won the 2018 Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m), finished second in that same year’s BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m), placed in the 2019 G1 FWD Champions Mile to Beauty Generation and finished third in the 2019 SIN G1 Kranji Mile (1600m) at Kranji Racecourse in Singapore.
But since those exploits at home and abroad as a four and five-year-old, the now seven-year-old has managed only five runs across an 18-month period, largely due to injuries but has returned for three runs this term, finishing eighth, tenth and sixth.
“He trialled very well – he was strong through the line and he won a Class 2 over 1650 metres at Happy Valley prior to winning the Hong Kong Classic Cup and his second in the Derby, so he’s won there before and he trialled well there the other day – I’m looking forward to the race,” Schofield said.
Schofield will break from gate three atop the Tony Millard-trainee against a field of nine others and did previously drive him to one of his two-career wins.
“Those three runs – the Classic Mile, Classic Cup and Derby – was when he was at peak fitness and he was at top of his game, the season after that year he raced really well, he ran second and fourth to Beauty Generation when he was also at his best and he did well in Singapore too, so he’s a horse who has featured in the best races for a number of years,” Schofield said.
“He’s a bit older now but stepping back to Group 3 grade looks suitable,” he added.
Also in the race is the Douglas Whyte-trained Savvy Nine (119lb), who like Singapore Sling, has taken a liking to Happy Valley in the past.
The French-bred five-year-old has had two runs at the city circuit for a second and third, finishing no worse than a half-length behind the winner, including his most recent outing on LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship night (9 December, 2020).
“I thought he ran well – Ryan (Moore) got off and said he wished that he had known him a bit better, he probably took a little bit longer to get going than he anticipated but I was happy with the way he hit the line,” Whyte said.
“I think the key to him is a little bit more give in the ground, he would prefer it if there was rain about but he’s indicating that he’s doing things correctly – he’s not the simplest horse but he’s certainly going along well at the moment.
“He’s held his form, he hasn’t done much in between runs, he’s just ticked over really so he’s in similar form to last time and there is no reason to suggest why he shouldn’t produce that again,” Whyte said.