Golden Monkey gets serious
Trainer Fitzsimmons’ multiple winner beats Super Salute and Fame Star at barrier trials
By his own lofty standards, his last two trials were sub-standard.
Golden Monkey was sixth of eight on Nov 2 and earlier – on Aug 17 and Sept 14 – he was, well, monkeying around, when finishing seventh and ninth respectively.
The Star Turn five-year-old was at the trials on Dec 7 and this time, he was not sidetracked.
Yes, he seemed real serious and it showed up in the result.
Golden Monkey won that hit-out by a neck. It was a narrow margin but there was clear intent in the way he powered home.
Here is how it went down.
Sandwiched between the speedy Fame Star on his inside and Gold Star with Super Salute on his outside, Golden Monkey was in good company.
As expected, we saw Fame Star with Jerlyn Seow in the saddle, dictating things. Golden Monkey, ridden by Vlad Duric, was snagged back and stayed in fourth spot when they cleared the 600m marker.
Super Salute, the mount of Manoel Nunes, was in second spot and hounding Fame Star all the way.
Into the stretch and Duric began to press all the right buttons.
In a flash, he got Golden Monkey into a firing position and the 100-point rater went on to take the trial by a neck from Super Salute. Fame Star had to settle for third.
On the morning, it was not the fastest of times.
Golden Monkey returned 1min 1.18sec.
But it showed us that the galloper still has that great tick of the heart.
In the opening trial of the morning, Nunes took the honours astride Tigarous.
But it was not without some slight drama.
Heading to the 600m and right until the seven-horse field straightened for the run home, the Brazilian champ appeared in some discomfort having lost his near-side irons.
But, being the brilliant rider that we know he is, Nunes soon regained the use of the stirrup and just like that, Tigarous hit his stride.
Nunes was in a winning mood and easily held off the challenges from Strong Ace and Heng Xing.
Tigarous would win by three parts of length and in a modest 1min 2.22sec.
But the buzz at trackside was not centred on the result – which was good for trainer Richard Lim – but the manner in which our champion hoops went about the task.
Nunes would have to settle for third place in the next trial which saw four of the seven runners having their mandatory “tests”.
His mount, Black Storm, was always prominent but eventually got rolled by Our Secret Weapon, the mount of Jamil Sarwi and Joyful Stars who was having a starting stalls test – which he passed.
The Donna Logan-trained six-year-old covered the trip in 1min 0.85sec.
But it was not all pedestrian times.
Red Dot broke the trend when taking out the last trial.
Another one for Duric, Red Dot was an impressive all-the-way winner.
Jumping from the outermost chute, he quickly headed off Qaraat and Duric had him on a good hold when the seven runners fanned out for that run to the line.
Indeed, at that stage – with 300m to travel – Red Dot must have seemed like a distant dot to the chasing pack.
He was at least eight lengths clear and not showing any signs of stopping.
Up in the saddle, Duric was enjoying his sedan-chair ride. Eventually, the pair crossed the line with six lengths to spare over the hard-ridden Qaraat who consigned Creative Dreams (Vitor Espindola) to the bronze-medal spot.
On that showing, Red Dot, already a one-time winner from just three starts, is a horse to follow.
He has not yet made it. But, given time, he could be box-office material.