Fortune favours Monkey in Year of the Dragon, Latest Racing News - The New Paper

Fortune favours Monkey in Year of the Dragon

Top trainer Fitzsimmons sings praises of Golden Monkey after G3 Fortune Bowl win

Trainer Tim Fitzsimmons had a very good reason to explain why he had never fallen prey to nerves prior to Golden Monkey’s explosive win in the $110,000 Group 3 Fortune Bowl (1,400m) on Feb 11.

It is because the Australian had always been safe in the knowledge he had the “second-best horse” in Singapore under his barn roof.

A capacity field of 16 in a seven-furlong race around one turn can be a recipe for disaster for even the most bombproof of horses.

But the 2022 Singapore champion trainer always had bottomless faith in the Group 1 Singapore Derby winner navigating that minefield, especially after his first-up second three weeks earlier on Jan 20.

Even when the $16 favourite looked hemmed in on the fence in midfield during the running of the Chinese New Year feature – which was making its comeback after a three-year break – he did not fret.

Even when Street Of Dreams opened up to a commanding break at the 250m, he remained cool.

“I was pretty confident. I’ve always been aware we have the second-best horse in Singapore,” he said, as an obvious reference to Lim’s Kosciuszko as the undisputed Kranji kingpin.

“He ran a massive first-up race with 59kg, and he has been working really well coming into today’s race.

“We just needed a bit of luck in midfield with a lot of traffic. But he’s a world-class horse and that’s why we threw him in.

“I was happy where he was. As long as we could put him to sleep, he just needed luck in the straight – and he got it.”

Pairing up again with visiting Sydney jockey Chad Schofield, Golden Monkey was never in doubt once the gap came through upon straightening.

As the early leaders came back and the field fanned out, Street Of Dreams (Ronnie Stewart) popped off from his box seat to draw first blood.

For a few fleeting seconds, it looked like the son of Dundeel could hand trainer Steven Burridge a first Fortune Bowl silverware.

But, once Golden Monkey went into overdrive, there was no second-guessing which way the big hongbao was heading.

Street Of Dreams put up a valiant fight but had no answer to the Star Turn five-year-old’s superior acceleration, eventually falling short by 1¼ lengths.

New Year Cup winner Super Salute (Manoel Nunes) must also be credited with a super run after enduring a more torrid trip out wide. He kept finding to run third another ½-length away.

Golden Monkey stopped the clock at a sizzling 1min 20.78sec, only 0.2sec outside Super Ninetyseven’s 11-year-old record.

Schofield, who was aboard at Golden Monkey’s Group 2 Stewards’ Cup (1,600m) win on July 2, three weeks before his Singapore Derby triumph under Hugh Bowman, said it felt like he had never left Kranji.

“I always enjoy riding this horse,” said the British jockey.

“Before the race, I looked at him in the parade ring, and he looked so good. He also felt terrific on the way to the barriers.

“We got him in the same rhythm as last time, and I had a lot of horse underneath me.

“He had a lovely run and he quickened when he needed to. He showed the same turn of foot.”

A winner of seven races from 18 starts and more than $760,000 in stakes for the Jig Racing/Elvin Stable, Golden Monkey will get a chance to improve on those statistics in the $110,000 Group 3 Committee’s Prize (1,600m) on March 9.

Unfortunately, Schofield will not be back in the saddle due to prior commitments back in Australia. He will, however, get a chance to extend his 100 per cent strike rate on the chestnut in the $150,000 Group 2 EW Barker Trophy (1,400m) on April 21 and the $1 million Group 1 Kranji Mile (1,600m) on May 18.

The 30-year-old also proved he was no Golden Monkey “one-trick pony”. He combined with Fitzsimmons for a double, brought up earlier by Fire ($18) in Race 2, the $75,000 Restricted Maiden race (1,200m).

“It was pretty straightforward. I just had to follow the favourite (Mission Five), we tracked him throughout,” he said.

“He’s a genuine horse and he was always travelling well for me. Around the home turn, he gave a nice kick once in the clear.

“I changed the whip to the left, which got a little more out of him, and that probably helped him win the race.”