Ten of Singapore’s 23 licensed trainers are represented in this year’s $1m Group 1 Kranji Mile to be run on Saturday, 22 May, with four trainers saddling up two runners each, five trainers with a single runner and with trainer Ricardo Le Grange strongly represented with three.
One of the four trainers with two entrants, reigning Singapore champion trainer Michael Clements will be hopeful to go one place better with last year’s runner-up Top Knight.
Arguably Singapore’s best miler in training, likely market elect Top Knight’s form is coming to the fore after two runs over an unsuitable 1200m after five months of spelling.
First-up in early April after his slashing run into third place in the Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup (2,000m) in late November last year, Top Knight was run off his legs early before closing off strongly into seventh place and beaten 4 ¼ lengths.
The five-year-old Zoustar gelding raced second-up in the Group 1 Lion City Cup (1,200m) and again got well back in the field, but did his best work late to finish three lengths off the winner Lim’s Lightning.
Top Knight will be a force to be reckoned with third-up at his pet distance, where he’s a three-time winner and two-time runner-up from six attempts, while on class alone he demands plenty of respect with three wins at the highest level.
Clements’ chances don’t end there, however, with his second runner and last year’s Gold Cup winner Big Hearted a major threat.
Unlike Top Knight who has yet to grace the winner’s circle this preparation, Big Hearted is off the back of a second-up win in a 1400m Handicap following a barnstorming run into third place at 1200m when first-up in late March.
Already possessing a formidable record as a seven-time winner from 14 starts, while still just a four-year-old, it appears as though the ceiling is yet to be reached with Big Hearted and the Clements yard will be expecting the up-and-comer to build on his Group 1 tally as time passes.
The same goes for trainer Daniel Meagher, who notched his Group 1 success as a trainer in his own right late last month with rejuvenated galloper Lim’s Lighting in the Lion City Cup (1,200m).
The former juvenile champion left Singapore to continue his career in Australia, where he performed below-par and subsequently returned to Kranji in December last year.
Lim’s Lightning has since been unbeaten in two starts – albeit over 1200m each time – but with a third place to Top Knight in the 2019 Group 1 Singapore Guineas (1,600m), the five-year-old remains a key player in the Kranji Mile.
Runner-up to Lim’s Lightning in the Lion City Cup, Rocket Star stands out as trainer Ricardo Le Grange’s best chance among his three runners.
Rocket Star stormed home from near-last at the bend when first-up in the Lion City Cup, going down by ¾ of a length to Lim’s Lighting but clearly indicating he’s come back in fine form this preparation after a five-month spell.
On the other hand, trainer Mark Walker will be banking on match fitness with thriving six-year-old Sacred Croix, who is sixth-up in the Kranji Mile.
Failing to win at 10 starts in 2020, Sacred Croix has bounced back in a big way in 2021 by winning four of his five starts.
Well-proven at the mile distance, with three wins and two runner-up spots from six attempts, Sacred Croix gets his chance to prove himself on the big stage after three starts for naught at Group 1 level.