Michael Lee – STC
With a name inspired by Singapore’s most famous cocktail, Singapore Sling must be owned by either a very patriotic Singaporean or a very thirsty owner – or both.
Just like its namesake, it’s a bit of a heady mix of all these things.
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 and 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 Ng’s scion Robert through their racing manager Richard See.
Singapore Sling’s colours are a clear giveaway of his interests. The Lucky purple silks and red star form the background, with the only difference the light blue cap and armbands.
But he will carry the Bauhinia flag as he’s trained at Sha Tin by South African trainer Tony Millard – which brings it full circle to the gelding’s true origins.
Bred by Drankenstein Stud in the Cape, Singapore Sling wasn’t actually named by the Ngs, but by his original South African owners Dave and Tiaan Shawe.
He was first prepared by five-time South African champion trainer Geoff Woodruff, who happens to be Millard’s brother-in-law, and for whom he won two races including the Group 2 Dingaans (1600m) at Turffontein in November 2016 from only six starts.
Millard then bought Singapore Sling for Ms Ng, and the name has stayed as he moved closer to the place of birth of the exotic tipple first concocted at the Raffles Hotel Long Bar.
After two wins at Sha Tin, including the Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m), Singapore Sling ran a mighty second to Ping Hai Star in the Group 1 BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) in March 2018.
Millard and Ng did toy with the idea when the inaugural Kranji Mile was launched, but in the end, they shelved the plan, preferring to give the gelding more time to mature, with Millard instead sending Horse Of Fortune, who ran a solid second to Southern Legend.
But what’s been in the shake-up for a year now will finally happen. Hong Kong is ready to serve Singapore Sling to the world at Kranji this Saturday – he is alongside title defender Southern Legend the other Sports Road Club representative in the $1.5 million Group 1 Kranji Mile (1600m) to take on eight Singapore runners including the likes of Debt Collector, Countofmontecristo, Elite Excalibur and Preditor among others.
“Last year, we focused on the Four-Year-Old series. With a name like his, he was destined to come here sooner or later,” said Millard’s wife Beverly, who has been with Singapore Sling since his arrival on Saturday.
“He’s a good horse who had a phenomenal 4YO campaign, finishing second in the Derby. He then ran fifth in the Champions Mile and we gave him a break.
“First-up he ran second to Beauty Generation in a Group 2 race (Sha Tin Trophy) over the mile, beaten only half-a-length, but then his form plateaued off a little.
“He had another break and then ran two nice races behind Beauty Generation again. First a nice fourth in the Chairman’s Trophy, beaten only two lengths off and at his last start he ran second in the Champions Mile (April 28).”
To Millard, if Singapore Sling brings that form to Kranji this Saturday, he will be hard to beat.
“Take Beauty Generation out of the equation, he is up there with the best in Hong Kong,” said Millard whose husband arrives in Singapore on Thursday.
“If you had to compare him with our runner last year, Horse Of Fortune, he’s a bit classier. Horse Of Fortune was a grinder whereas he has a turn of foot.
“He’s won the Dingaans which is a very good race back in South Africa. It’s produced many good winners over the years.
“He is a horse who can be up on the pace, in the box-seat. He’s normally not far off the lead.
“Temperament-wise, he was a lot sharper when he just came to us, he was easily spooked and was more aggressive, but he’s a lot better now.
“He ran his last two good races over the mile, but I still think his best distance is 1800m. Still, if he can produce that form in the Champions Mile, he will be a factor on Saturday.”
No doubt, there will be few rounds of celebratory drinks downed that night should Singapore Sling win – and not at just the Raffles Hotel!