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SA-bred Singapore Sling,  R225,000 buy from the 2015 Cape Premier Yearling Sale,  trained by South African Tony Millard, cemented his candidacy for next month’s BMW Hong Kong Derby with an upset success in the HK$10 million Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) at Sha Tin on Sunday.

The victory was SA-born Chad Schofield’s biggest in Hong Kong and the rider ended a memorable Chinese New Year race day with a four-timer that also featured the Class 1 Chinese New Year Cup Handicap (1400m) on Dundonnell.

“It’s a fantastic day,” Schofield, 24, said. “To win the two feature races is a privilege. It was my birthday a couple of days ago so it was the ideal present.”

Singapore Sling returned at 9/1 in a Hong Kong Classic Cup market dominated by Nothingilikemore, the only horse ahead of him in last month’s Hong Kong Classic Mile. But the 1.8 favourite failed to sparkle this time, running home a disappointing fourth behind Millard’s bay.

There was nothing sub-par about Singapore Sling. Millard’s latest stable star looked a picture pre-race and delivered a performance to match.

“When I asked for the supreme effort, he responded nicely and he held that all the way to the line,

Singapore Sling switched three wide off the home turn, quickened past the fading Ruthven and locked onto The Golden Age, passing that rival with 150m to go.

It was a second Hong Kong Classic Cup success for Millard. The handler took the prize in 2011 with Ambitious Dragon, a horse that went on to win the Derby and subsequently proved his merit as one of Hong Kong’s all-time greats.

“Ambitious Dragon was a true champion and this horse is still building up to be talked of in the same voice – he has to still do it. There was nothing wrong with his win today, though,” Millard said.

“After the mile, Beverly (Millard) was of the opinion that he’d got a little bit of spring in his stride and he has come on from that. We just need to keep him like this all the way through. It was a hard fought win and I’m certainly happy that he finished off very strongly.”

Schofield’s mount clocked 1m 46.99s. That ranks as the second fastest Classic Cup at the current distance, just one hundredth of a second off Rapper Dragon’s 2017 time. He’s a gelding by Philanthropist and was bred and raised at Drakenstein Stud.  He has already won the equivalent of R15,272,010 in stakes. – David Morgan/