Golden Monkey in the hunt, Latest Racing News - The New Paper

Golden Monkey in the hunt

Win on June 16 will be perfect launch pad ahead of final four Group 1 races at Kranji

The Tim Fitzsimmons-trained Golden Monkey may have bigger fish to fry in the coming months, but a win in the Kranji Stakes Araceover 1,400m on June 16 would be the “perfect entrée”.

Lining up as the top-rated runner (105 points) in the five-horse field following the scratchings of Sky Eye and Senor Don, the five-year-old son of Star Turn looks very hard to beat on paper, given this will be a rare run out of Group company and heis also well-weighted at the race conditions despite carrying 59.5kg.

The Australian-bred gelding had frequently placed behind the dominating Lim’s Kosciuszko on more than one occasion at the highest level, with his latest and last-start third in the Group 1 Kranji Mile on May 18.

In fact, since his Group 1 Singapore Derby (1,800m) victory in July 2023, connections have headed to the champagne room on only one occasion – after he won the Group 3 Fortune Bowl (1,400m) on Feb 11.

It is a statistic that belies the Jig Racing/Elvin Stable-owned gelding because he races consistently well at the top level and has a turn of foot that is the envy of many.

Now, winning at any level could bring confidence that perhaps would beneeded to turn the tables on the likes of nemesis Lim’s Kosciuszko in the handful of Group races left before Kranji’s last meetingon Oct 5.

Josh McLoughlan, part-owner of Golden Monkey and the principal of Jig Bloodstock, worksclosely with Fitzsimmons and he is certain of the fact.

“I think we have the second-best horse in Singapore,” said McLoughlan, of the four-time Group winner. “It’s just a shame he’s run into arguably the second-best horse, Lim’s Kosciuszko, in the history of Singapore racing (after Rocket Man).

“While I rate Rocket Man the best, he was a sprinter. (Lim’s) Kosciuszko is the most versatile, so we can’t dodge him over any distance.

“So a race like this one on June 16 is a good way to get Golden Monkey back into a winning habit.

“In saying that, we don’t take any race for granted, but I think we are in well at the race conditions and 1,400m in a small field will suit him. And there is no Lim’s Kosciuszko to contend with, so that’s in our favour, for sure.”

But the respite will be for one race only, with Golden Monkey’s next four runs, and most likely his last four races at Kranji, all likely to be up against Australian trainer Daniel Meagher’s two-time Horse of the Year Lim’s Kosciuszko at Group 1 level.

“We can’t dodge him,” added McLoughlan, of the six-year-old son of Kermadec who has won 20 races from 24 starts and picked up more than $3.1 million for the connections of Lim’s Stable.

“We will head to the Lion City Cup (1,200m) on July 28 next, which we have placed second (2023) and third (2022) behind Lim’s Kosciuszko in the last two years. That race will get him ready for the Raffles Cup (1,600m) on Aug 11, then the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (1,800m) on Sept 7.

“Then we’ll probably give him a crack at the last Singapore Gold Cup if Tim thinks he can see out the 2,000m.

“So, only four runs left after June 16 for him to take the big scalp before the Singapore Turf Club closes on Oct 5.

“His racing pattern makes it tough. He is best ridden cold as his explosive turn of foot only lasts 250m or thereabouts.

“Given Lim’s Kosciuszko puts himself into races on the pace, we often have six or morelengths to make up, which is hard against a horse as good as him but, given the right circumstances, we can do it.

“Golden Monkey won the Derby and was champion three-year-old (2022) and four-year-old (2023) in Singapore but he really deserves an open Group 1 win on his CV.”

Like all good trainers, Fitzsimmons would like to take it one race at a time and thought June 16 would be a great launching pad for his stable star, a seven-time winner from 21 starts with more than $882,000 in stakes earned.

“He’s really well at the moment,” said the Australian conditioner. “And this race looks like a really good race for him.

“It’s a small field, so (jockey) Ryan (Curatolo) will ride him where comfortable and save him up for one last crack at them.

“After June 16, we go to the Lion City Cup, Raffles Cup and QEII Cup. And maybe the Gold Cup, if he runs well over 1,800m (in the QEII Cup). So, hopefully, four more Group runs to show his best.”