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Golden Monkey going for silver

Fitzsimmons cannot fault smart 4YO’s form ahead of G3 rematch with Super Salute

Golden Monkey was beaten fair and square by Super Salute at his last start in the Group 2 EW Barker Trophy (1,400m) on April 23.

The two four-year-olds meet on the same terms in Sunday’s $110,000 Group 3 Silver Bowl (1,400m). With a beaten margin of 1 3/4 lengths, Golden Monkey may well have his job cut out again.

But trainer Tim Fitzsimmons said the son of Star Turn has kept thriving on his way to the first leg of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge.

Fitzsimmons respects Super Salute, who is bidding for a seven-in-a-row, and will likely start as the hot favourite for trainer Jason Lim.

But the Australian is not heading in with the mindset that the tables cannot be turned.

“Golden Monkey ran really well in the EW Barker Trophy, even if the pace didn’t really suit him,” said the 2022 Singapore champion trainer.

“Definitely, Super Salute will be tough to beat, but I couldn’t be happier with my horse. He’s come through his last run well and galloped very well on Tuesday.”

The distance of 1,400m of the Silver Bowl (formerly the Patron’s Bowl) – making its comeback after a two-year absence – is not an issue. He won on it at his first test in 2022 when he claimed the second leg of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic, the Group 2 Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic.

Fitzsimmons was, however, more cautious about the second and third legs, the Group 2 Stewards’ Cup (1,600m) and Group 1 Singapore Derby (1,800m) in July.

“It’s still a question mark whether he can go beyond the 1,400m but I’m confident he can go up to 1,600m and 1,800m,” he said.

“Lim’s Kosciuszko was able to win up to 2,000m, so why not? We won’t know until we try.

“The plan is to get up to the 1,600m and then to 1,800m. We’ll take it race by race.”

The other factor that went through some tweaking for the four-time winner was the pair of hands doing the steering.

Mark Zahra returns to Singapore to take the ride.

Unsuccessful at his last Kranji stint on May 20, the top Melbourne jockey will be bidding to do better than finishing third to Lim’s Kosciuszko at a similar fly-in, fly-out ride on Golden Monkey in the Group 1 Lion City Cup (1,200m) in 2022.

“(Racing manager) Josh (McLoughlan) oversees this aspect. He was happy to have a jockey who’s world class, and knows the horse, too,” said Fitzsimmons.

“Nothing against Simon’s (Kok) ride in the EW Barker Trophy. It was always the plan to get Mark on board in the Silver Bowl.”

Dream Alliance will be Fitzsimmons’ second Silver Bowl runner. Though the son of Into Mischief recorded all his three Kranji wins over 1,400m, Fitzsimmons believes the last two legs would be more up his alley.

At his last start in a Class 3 race over 1,400m on May 20, he was caught three wide for Manoel Nunes, albeit with cover. He could strike where he was upon cornering, but his acceleration lacked the usual bite.

They ran sixth to Invincible Tycoon, who is also in the Silver Bowl’s small but select eight-horse field.

“He had a tough run and also needed the run at his last start,” said Fitzsimmons.

“He was always set for the four-year-old races. He has finally drawn a barrier (two) this time.

“He will improve as he gets up in distance up to 1,800m. That is his ideal distance.”

Daniel Moor, who was the star rider with Coin Toss at the last two legs of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge, will take the reins aboard Dream Alliance.

Sunday’s meeting will be the first since the devastating news on Monday that the curtain will come down on Singapore racing in October 2024.

Despite the inescapable fate awaiting Kranji and its residents, horses still have to be looked after and races will still have to be won like they are the next Gold Cup.

But no matter how Fitzsimmons tries to keep going about his business with some level of normalcy, he still finds it hard to suppress the feeling of loss that had not left him since Monday.

“It’s very disappointing news. I don’t know what the future holds for me,” he said.

“But I still have 54 horses under my responsibility, and there are still many races to run for until next year.”