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Gold in Saturno Spring’s sights

Meagher’s patient stable management paves the way to lightweight Gold Cup prospect

Daniel Meagher can rely on another Lim’s Stable horse to tighten his stranglehold in the Kranji feature races in 2023.

Following Lim’s Kosciuszko’s walk in the park in the Group 1 Kranji Mile on Saturday, it would take a brave man to bet against the Australian trainer’s megastar in Group 1 races like the Lion City Cup (August), Raffles Cup (September – he has already won its first version in March) or Queen Elizabeth II Cup (October).

Not to mention, the stable’s convalescing original kingpin, Lim’s Lightning, could add even more firepower if the planned comeback in the third quarter eventuates.

The only feature race which is not a surefire assignment for Lim’s Kosciuszko is the other $1 million race after the Kranji Mile – the Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup (2,000m) in November.

The 14-time winner has yet to venture past 1,800m. But, then again, he hails from a yard which is not scared of such training coups.

Lim’s Lightning made away with the Gold Cup at his very first test over the journey in 2021.

Weight is the other daunting factor. If Lim’s Kosciuszko’s rating keeps soaring, he could be slapped with the back-breaking top weight in the handicap classic.

A one-point hike from the Kranji Mile win has edged the four-time Group 1 winner ahead of Lim’s Lightning to sit alone at the top on 114 points, but the son of Kermadec may keep the handicapper even busier in the coming months.

On the other hand, Saturno Spring has emerged as a handy Gold Cup alternative following his grinding victory in the $70,000 Stepitup 2015 Stakes Class 3 race (1,800m) on Saturday.

The $12 favourite’s neck-win was the first pin of a treble for the Lim’s Stable. The Steven Burridge-trained Invincible Tycoon ($25) capped a memorable Kranji Mile day for the multiple-champion owner in the last race.

“It took this horse a long time to get where he is,” said Meagher of Saturno Spring.

“Considering he had 58.5kg on his back, he put in a really good effort.

“He’s surprised us a lot. All going well, he may go for the Gold Cup with a light weight.

“He’s a horse with a lot of problems. Under the circumstances, he’s done really well.

“His groom Lela Salleh looks after him very well and my apprentice jockey Fahmi Rosman rides him every day.

“We do a lot of icing on him, wrap him up in a lot of bandages. The staff has done a great job with him.

“He’s had years of racing, but he’s still lightly raced.”

In the irons at his last two wins, Marc Lerner has turned in another pitch-perfect ride on Kranji’s only progeny by little-known sire Greenspring.

With a horse whose legs come with a “handle with care” sticker, the Frenchman never bustles the Argentinian-bred six-year-old up.

On Saturday, he just dropped his mount into a rearward spot before letting him run through the bridle from the 700m.

Granted, stablemate Lim’s Puncak Jaya (Zyrul Nor Azman) might have softened up leader Pennywise (Bernardo Pinheiro) during their eye-balling match through most of the race.

But the former Swiss-based jockey’s timing was still like clockwork precision.

After drawing on level terms with Pennywise, Lim’s Puncak Jaya and Elite Incredible at the 400m, Saturno Spring could not quite put the race away, though.

All four actually seemed to be making heavy weather of it inside the last 300m.

Lerner had to pull out all the stops to eventually lift the topweight over the line. Pennywise ran second, a neck away, with Lim’s Puncak Jaya and Elite Incredible beaten by a similar margin into the other minor placings.

The winning time was 1min 47.41sec for the 1,800m on the long course.

“He’s such a good horse,” said Lerner.

“He can go for the Gold Cup. He just needs to keep improving so he’s ready at the right time in November.”