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where the horse is always the hero
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Posted 2023-05-21 16:29:33  
Watch: Lim's Kosciusko puts rivals to the sword

Rarely do big races go to script but the way in which Lim’s Kosciuszko thrashed his rivals in the $1 million Group 1 Kranji Mile (1600m) on Saturday was word-perfect.

In the week leading up to one of the biggest race meetings in Singapore, few would have tipped against Singapore’s reigning Horse of the Year and punters certainly did not miss with the Lim’s Stable star sent out as the raging $6 favourite.

It was not a surprise to anyone that Lim’s Kosciuszko won the feature race, but to win it in a new record time, that was just the icing on the cake.

His new Course record time over 1600m on the Long Course was 1 min 32.81secs, which shaved 0.44 secs off the old record set by his stablemate, Lim’s Lightning in last year’s edition of the Kranji Mile.

The win also meant back-to-back victories in the Kranji Mile, albeit no longer of international Group 3 status this year, for trainer Daniel Meagher, jockey Wong Chin Chuen and owner Lim Siah Mong.

While the race went to plan for the winner, it was a cracking edition of the Kranji Mile with plenty of intrigue pre-race, given the Steven Burridge-trained Street Of Dreams ($32) was stepping up to Group company for the first time on the back of six wins straight and the Ricardo Le Grange-trained Katak ($42) was also well in the conversation.

On jumping, Fame Star (Simon Kok Wei Hoong) crossed to lead as expected with the big players all in the mix early. Katak (Vlad Duric) was on his flank, Lim’s Kosciuszko stayed one-back on the rail while Street Of Dreams (Ronnie Stewart) stalked the leading bunch.

As the field turned for home, Duric made the first move by sending Katak to the front at the 550m, albeit Wong had not moved a muscle on Lim’s Kosciuszko.

The race was over in an instant after Wong pressed the ‘button’ at the 350m and Lim’s Kosciuszko simply put lengths on Katak in a matter of strides. Meanwhile, no other horse – including a battling Street Of Dreams who was subsequently found to be lame – could make an impact.

The win was easy as pie and while Cyclone (Manoel Nunes) and Mr Malek (A’Isisuhairi Kasim) caught the eye late to keep the margins to only one-and-a-quarter lengths and a neck respectively.

Katak finished in fourth while Sacred Croix ran a creditable fifth under visiting Australian hoop Mark Zahra. He did not fly home empty-handed as God's Gift ($20) scored in the $30,000 Lim's Lightning 2022 Stakes, a Class 5 Division 2 race (1400m) in the opener.

Meanwhile, Lim’s Kosciuszko was in a race – and a class - of his own.

“He’s a privilege and pleasure to train,” said an emotional Meagher to racing presenter Scott Bailey after the race.

“I’m very lucky to have him. He’s a super horse, did everything we asked him to do and basically trained himself. We just had to point him in the right direction.

“A big thanks to (track rider) Razif (Rahman) who rides him, (groom) Sham who looks after him and everybody at the stable. It’s just a great privilege to train a horse like this for Mr Lim.”

Of the week leading into the race, Meagher – although nervous - could not have been happier with Lim’s Kosciuszko’s preparation.

“It was a bit different from the Raffles Cup. He got a little issue going into that, hence we only gave him one trial, but everything happens for a reason and this time everything went really smooth,” he said.

“He pleased us in every piece of work. Like I said, he’s not difficult, we just had to make sure he eats, sleeps and exercises. He’s an absolute pleasure.”

The five-year-old son of Kermadec, who has now won four Group 1 races and amassed over $1.5 million in prizemoney, will most likely head to the Group 1 Lion City Cup (1200m) on August 27.

“I think (it will be) the Lion City Cup in August. He deserves a couple of weeks off, just swimming and a bit of walking,” said Meagher, who pulled off a double courtesy of Saturno Spring ($12) in the $70,000 Stepitup 2015 Stakes, a Class 3 race (1800m).

The Lion City Cup will form the third and final Leg of the newly named STC Super Sprint series this year, in which the first two Legs are the Group 3 Kranji Sprint (1200m) on June 3 and the Group 3 Rocket Man Sprint (1200m) on August 6.

As usual, Wong was full of praise for Lim’s Kosciuszko.

“First of all, you have to have a horse, so I’m very thankful for the opportunity to ride him and for putting me on one of the best horses,” said Wong, who rode Sky Eye to victory in the $100,000 Cash Luck 2013 Stakes, a Class 1 race over 1200m (see earlier report).

“You can see that he has a high cruising speed and settled very well. He did not even try to fight me once in the backstraight.

“He was travelling beautifully and tracked Katak throughout the race. When we came to the top of the straight, he started to pick the bridle on from there, but it was still too soon as we’re on the Long Course.

“I still tried to hold him up a bit but I got a clear run coming into the straight and he just cruised himself up beside Katak. He was very comfortable.

“When we pressed the button, he just gave another kick. All credit to the trainer. He really did a very good job and thanks to the owner as well.”

Lim – who took home a treble on the day with Saturno Spring and Invincible Tycoon in the $70,000 Better Than Ever 2011 Stakes, a Class 3 race (1400m) - was overwhelmed by the victory.

“It’s always an exciting race,” said Lim of the Kranji Mile victory.

“I’m so anxious but yet so excited that my horse won.”

SINGAPORE TURF CLUB 

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