Kranji Mile, Lion City Cup postponed
Overseas horses not allowed to participate in the $1.5m Kranji Mile on the new date
With the Covid-19 circuit breaker measures extended by four weeks to June 1, the Singapore Turf Club (STC) will reschedule the $1.5 million Kranji Mile and the $800,000 Lion City Cup to a later date.
The two Kranji feature races - over 1,600m and 1,200m respectively - were initially slated for May 23.
In the light of Covid-19 developments around the world, the Kranji Mile will be closed to international participation. Only Singapore horses are eligible.
"The measures are in line with the Ministry of Health's advisory on 'Strong National Push to Stem Spread of Covid-19', " said the STC.
Earlier, the STC had postponed the $1 million Group 1 Singapore Derby (1,800m), originally scheduled for April 18, to a date to be announced.
The Derby - inaugurated in 1880, cancelled in 1910 and revived in 1959 - is one of the oldest feature races on the local racing calendar.
The Lion City Cup was incepted in 1974 and is the marquee domestic Group 1 sprint, after the discontinuation of the $1 million International Group 1 KrisFlyer International Sprint over the same distance in 2016.
The same year, the $3 million International Group 1 Singapore Airlines International Cup over 2,000m, which was Singapore's richest race, was also aborted.
The Kranji Mile was inaugurated as an invitational domestic Group 1 race in 2018, with the objective of becoming an International Group race, in a bid to restore international racing in Singapore.
The STC raised the prize money to $1.5 million, overtaking the $1.35 million Singapore Gold Cup ( 2,000m) as the richest race on local turf. The Gold Cup purse was reduced to $1 million last year.
Last October, the Kranji Mile was accorded International Group 3 status by the Asian Racing Federation.
Hong Kong's Southern Legend captured the Kranji Mile back-to-back and his connections had eyed the hat-trick.
News of the race being restricted to Singapore horses initially left his trainer, Caspar Fownes, and owner, Boniface Ho, disappointed. But the switch to Plan B has produced a more lucrative result.
Instead of keeping Southern Legend fresh for Singapore, like last year, the horse won the HK$20 million (S$3.7 million) Group 1 FWD Champions Mile yesterday (see story below).
Southern Legend finished third in his other unscheduled start - the HK$4.25 million Group 2 Chairman's Trophy over 1,600m on April 5.
"Yes, we were initially disappointed about overseas runners not allowed to come in. We wanted to have a go at the three-peat. But, under the circumstances, we totally understand," said Fownes.
"We're very happy, because my target was to just come and win in Singapore. You could see the form that he's in now - better form than last year.
"It's a good result for us. The horse has been great and tough, and he has won about S$8 million now. He's tough, always consistent and it's nice to beat the champion horse today."