Southern Legend dominated in the way the market suggested he would as the Caspar Fownes-trained five-year-old made virtually all under Zac Purton to plunder the Kranji Mile in Singapore.
In what was a famous one-two for Hong Kong, the even-money favourite streaked clear of Horse Of Fortune, with Nova Strike the best of the local runners in third.
Purton was completing a notable double sparked by his Singapore Guineas triumph on Mr Clint, and his only worry was negated when he got a clean break from the rail to lead on the Champions Mile third.
When asked to stretch on straightening up, Southern Legend readily opened up, as Horse Of Fortune battling on bravely for the runner-up slot.
Purton, who trails Joao Moreira by six in the Hong Kong jockeys’ title race, is a master tactician but on this occasion his game plan took little working out.
He said: “I was always happy, and coming to the 400 still had a lot of horse under me, and felt I had it. He showed a good turn of foot and impressed me.
“Singapore’s a place I love and I’ve had a lot of luck here. I love riding winners, but I need more if I’m to catch Joao for the title.”
Fownes immediately forwarded retirement for the season for Southern Legend whose whole target for the remainder of the year will be the Hong Kong Mile in December.
The trainer explained: “I loved the way he was such a chilled dude training for the race through the week and it was a very good performance in a good time.
“Now he can go and enjoy his summer break before coming back to mix it with the big boys. Everything will be focussed towards December at Sha Tin.
“He’s the type of horse you can be versatile with, but to be honest I had to convince the owner to come here as he didn’t really want to travel.”
Rocket Man is considered the best horse ever trained in Singapore and counted four consecutive Lion City Cups on his CV.
And while Lim’s Cruiser will do well to match that feat, the five-year-old repeated his 2017 triumph in the Singapore Group One sprint by reeling in Zac Kasa under the coolest of rides by Glenn Boss.
Boss praised trainer Stephen Gray and said: “Stephen gave this horse the best preparation I’ve seen for a long time.
“I think he’s the best sprinter in Singapore and his owner Mr Lim has done his bit to keep this place going with his sponsorship and the amount of horses he races here.”
Earlier, Purton had shown another aspect from his spectrum of talent when getting the free going Mr Clint to settle and swoop to conquer for trainer Lee Freedman in the Singapore Guineas.
Today’s programme is a blueprint for what the track’s chief operating officer and clerk of the course Soong Tze Ming describes as a 2019 Kranji Mile fixture that will be on “a higher level” than when the decision was made to scrap the Singapore Airlines Cup three years ago.
He said: “When we scrapped the Singapore Airlines Cup and the Kris Flyer Sprint there came a dip within the racing industry in Singapore and it went down a couple of notches.
“But now we want to bring things back up to an even higher level than before.
“We decided not to go for a 10-furlong race because we know we could not win it, but in bringing an international mile race to the table we are giving the whole industry a level playing field.”
The Turf Club made a relatively late decision to host a ‘dummy run’ of the Mile today and Soong admits that it was not on the scale imagined for 2019.
He concluded: “It’s not been on such a big scale because we are not quite ready for it and we wanted to let what is a relatively new team here get a feel of what to expect in 12 months from now.”
The Lion City Cup will again play the main supporting role to the Kranji Mile next year.