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Southern Legend enhances fine record with G3 Premier Plate triumph

June 20, 2021, 1:45:17 PM

Southern Legend (133lb) added to his history as one of Hong Kong's most consistent performances in recent years with a win in the G3 Premier Plate Handicap (1800m) at Sha Tin this afternoon (Sunday, 20 June) for rider Zac Purton and trainer Caspar Fownes.

After shedding his maiden tag in Australia over five years ago, the bay's illustrious career has included two successful Singapore raids, a sixth-place finish to Almond Eye in the 2019 G1 Dubai Turf (1800m), and a head-bobbing victory against Beauty Generation in last year's G1 FWD Champions Mile (1600m).

And, after coming within a head of Golden Sixty in January's G1 Stewards' Cup (1600m), the evergreen eight-year-old – who has placed four times this season – got his reward for consistency with a half-length victory in today's HK$3.5 million contest over Reliable Team (113lb) and Fast Most Furious (113lb).

“You'd like a couple more like him in your stable — he's simply a beast, he's got so much heart, and he deserved to win.” He's been so steady throughout his career, and in the previous ten races, he's been in the money every time, so he deserved to win,” Fownes added.

Southern Legend defied a hefty impost and a rising age to give Fownes his third consecutive Premier Plate win and fourth overall after Thumbs Up (2012), Rise High (2019), and Dances With Dragon – on a day when his trainer flourished with a clean sweep of both G3s and five wins in total thanks to Joy Master, Lucky Quality, Sky Field, and Killer Bee (2020).

Purton's third victory atop the Not A Single Doubt gelding, having taken him to successive SIN G1 Kranji Mile victories (2018 & 2019) at Kranji Racecourse in Singapore.

“I actually felt comfortable the whole way, especially at the 600 metres – he was just giving me the impression that he was in the right frame of mind today and he actually got there quite smoothly - the final 200 yards, he just coasted to the line,” Purton said.

After making his debut in the city at the end of May 2017, the gelding's Hong Kong earnings have already surpassed HK$59 million.

“It's incredible; he simply keeps getting better with age. He's had a couple aircraft rides across the world, and he just seems to get better with each one - he's been a good warrior,” Purton added.

Despite being a soon-to-be nine-year-old, Fownes outlined his intentions for his charge, who is now in possibly career-best form, having finished second in this season's G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile, Stewards' Cup, G1 Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m), and FWD Champions Mile.

“I'm extremely delighted for Bon - he puts so much into racing that he deserves these kinds of horses and the best,” Fownes said of owner Boniface Ho, one of Hong Kong's most renowned owners.

“Bon has delegated authority to me; I will make that choice when I believe he has had enough. You can see he still loves to race because he knuckled down and gave those young horses a lot of weight, and he charged the line like a bloody tiger, which is exactly what you want to see these elderly horses do.

“Obviously, he'll turn nine in about six weeks, and we'll give him a great prep for next season and see what he can do; there's still a lot of money on offer here in Hong Kong, and we'll just balance that with how the horse is. Obviously, if he has had enough, we will just retire him,” Fownes explained.
Today's victory was Fownes' second with Purton this season, following Guy Dragon's victory at Happy Valley last September.

“Zac is a fantastic rider, so it was nice to work with him and achieve that achievement. He'd previously done well on the horse, so it was a fantastic outcome all around,” Fownes said.

Fownes now leads the trainers' championship by seven victories, due to today's five-timer, with 74 wins, while John Size is second with 67 wins.

Racing in Hong Kong resumes this Wednesday (June 23) at Happy Valley.