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Hong Kong raiders take it easy

Southern Legend and Singapore Sling stretch out leisurely at Kranji on Monday and yesterday morning

It's two against eight.

If this were a schoolyard wrestle, it would certainly not be seen as a fair fight.

But when the two are, perhaps, a pair of the best to come out of that pulsating horse racing jurisdiction called Hong Kong, the contest becomes a level playing field.

And, as the contest is Saturday's $1.5 million Group 1 Kranji Mile, the odds do seem in the balance.

It was on Monday morning when Singapore's early-risers caught a glimpse of the two overseas invaders - Southern Legend and Singapore Sling, who arrived last Saturday.

And, it must be said, they were impressed and very interested in what they saw.

Both again took it easy yesterday morning.

As for the two runners, well, it looked like a case of having been there and done that - although, and in the case of Singapore Sling, it will be his first time racing in the country whose name he carries.

Anyway, with that mildly intoxicating name, Singapore Sling was the focus of most of the attention of the gawkers and, although it was at the break of dawn, the racing fans made them welcomed.

Singapore Sling did a slow canter for around three minutes under track rider Cheung Hiu Ming on Track 2, pulling up before the home turn.

"He'll do the same work as Horse Of Fortune (Kranji Mile runner-up to Southern Legend) last year," said Beverly Millard, the wife of trainer Tony Millard, who is overseeing the horse's preparation.

"He did his final gallop over 1,400m on Friday in Hong Kong. Karis Teetan rode him and was happy with the work. From now on, we'll just keep him happy.

"We watched him doing that very slow canter and he changed his legs okay.

"He raced mostly in Johannesburg in South Africa and they go the right-hand way like in Hong Kong, but he did race the other way as well, he's very adaptable.

"We might just step him up a touch in his training and, if he were to have a blow, it'd be for Thursday."

Track rider Cheung Hiu Ming will be on his back right through before handing over to race-jockey Teetan on Saturday.

The Hong Kong lad was pleased with the Philanthropist five-year-old's action on Monday.

"He's settled in well here. He didn't lose much weight. It's the same as he was in Hong Kong," said Cheung. "As for his work, we did a nice and easy canter for 2:50sec."

In case you're wondering why the name Singapore Sling?

Well, he has Singapore connections and is closely linked to staunch Kranji supporters, Lucky Stable.

The South African-bred five-year-old son of Philanthropist is raced by Nikki Ng Mien Hua, the Hong Kong-born daughter of Singapore-born property tycoon Robert Ng. Robert is the son of the late billionaire and Far East Organization founder Ng Teng Fong.

For local racing fans, the Ng clan also equates to the powerful Lucky Stable, now helmed by Robert through their racing manager Richard See.

As for Southern Legend, he looked like a tourist who had seen it all before - but was still a wee bit curious.

There was nothing spectacular about his work as he repeated the routine that paved the way to his success in the inaugural race last year.

He cantered one lap under track rider Edward Leung on Track 2 on Monday.

"He feels very good and I'm very happy," said the track rider. "He didn't lose much weight on the way here. He's drinking and eating well, everything's fine with him, and he's already back to his normal weight, around 525kg."