Millard’s Sling Can Set Sunday Alight

Three Gr1 features at Sha Tin on Sunday

Trainer Tony Millard has his sights set on next season with Hong Kong Classic Cup winner Singapore Sling, but he is still hopeful of a big effort when the SA-bred four-year-old drops back to 1600m for the Gr1 Champions Mile at Sha Tin on Sunday.

Singapore Sling (photo: HKJC)

Singapore Sling (photo: HKJC)

Singapore Sling is the only four-year-old among the nine runners for this year’s Champions Mile. There has only been one winner from that age group in the last decade – the John Moore-trained Xtension in 2011 – while all four Classic Cup winners to run in the Champions Mile have been unplaced.

However, Millard did taste spring glory with a Classic Cup winner in Ambitious Dragon, preparing the champion to take the Gr1 Audemars Piguet QEII Cup (2000m) in 2011.

“I thought he deserved his chance in here,” Millard said. “A lot of these horses have been on the go all season and he has only had five starts, so he’s got a bit of freshness on his side.”

Tony Millard holding trophy

Tony Millard

Singapore Sling, a winner of the Gr2 Dingaans (1600m) at Turffontein pre-arrival, has proven to be a solid indicator among this year’s four-year-old crop. A strong second to the John Size-trained Nothingilikemore in the Hong Kong Classic Mile in January, he then took the Hong Kong Classic Cup before another game performance when runner-up to Size’s Ping Hai Star in the BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) last month.

Millard had the choice between the QEII Cup and the Champions Mile for Singapore Sling, but decided that the son of Philanthropist would benefit long-term from a step back in trip.

“I have no concerns about him running out 2000m,” Millard said. “I think he showed last start that he is capable of seeing out that trip. What I’m thinking about though is having a horse for next season. Coming back to the mile gives him a softer run to end this season, which is still his first in Hong Kong, and hopefully it is a good stepping stone to next season’s big races.”

The Champions Mile is one of three Gr1 features at Sha Tin on Sunday, Hong Kong’s Champions Day.

The $24 million Audemars Piguet QEII Cup sees a mouth-watering clash between Hong Kong Cup winner Time Warp, Hong Kong Derby winner Ping Hai Star, last year’s runner-up Pakistan Star and Japanese duo Al Ain and Danburite, while Godolphin saddles up a dual-continent assault on the $16 million Chairman’s Sprint Prize. The boys in blue will send out Japanese Gr1 winner Fine Needle and English Gr1 placegetter Blue Point to tackle Hong Kong’s best sprinters, including Mr Stunning, Beat The Clock and Lucky Bubbles.

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