Quality Hong Kong-based miler Southern Legend will be pointed west in search of an inaugural Dubai World Cup card victory for trainer Caspar Fownes.
Ever-consistent, the 6-year-old gelding ran second to dual Group 1 winner Exultant in the Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (G1) over 2000m on his most recent outing in mid-February and is taking dead-aim on the $6 million Dubai Turf sponsored by DP World (G1).
“He flies to Dubai on the 19th,” Fownes said. “He’s galloped since his last run. We’ll just keep ticking over towards the race. He is very well and obviously that effort last time out in the Gold Cup against our best middle-distance horses was huge.”
Owned by Boniface Ho Ka Kui, the Australian-bred son of Not a Single Doubt has consistently laid his claim as a top-class competitor.
During the 2017-2018 racing season, the gelding put his nose in front when it mattered, most notably winning the Group 1 Kranji Mile in Singapore, as well as beating Longines Hong Kong Mile victor Beauty Only and dual Group 1 winner Pakistan Star in the Rapper Dragon Handicap over a mile in March 2018.
He proceeded by placing third to reigning Hong Kong Horse of the Year Beauty Generation in the Steward’s Cup (G1), as well as hitting the board behind that same foe in the 2018 Longines Hong Kong Mile (G1) in December.
From his five career wins, two have come at the tight Happy Valley racetrack and two at the roomier Sha Tin racecourse, with both of these local tracks racing right-handed. The change in direction to Meydan’s one sweeping left-handed turn (for 1800m races) should be of little worry, as his aforementioned Singapore victory came over Kranji’s course of the same direction.
“The Dubai Turf is going to be a strong race, no doubt, but he has shown he can travel and perform,” Fownes concluded. “Perhaps his best performance of all was in the Kranji Mile, when he had to travel and also go left-handed. I’d be hoping for a big run.”
The following list is ultimately pure guess-work until official invitations are announced and a field of probables takes shape, but it is good to keep a ‘watch’ on those who have announced that they are possible for the race.
Almond Eye, Dream Castle, Without Parole, I Can Fly, Wootton, Century Dream, Vivlos, Southern Legend and Deirdre.
Southern Legend (AUS) and Zac Purton winning the Kranji Mile, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club