Hong Kong Mile for Lim's Kosciuszko
Singapore’s equine superstar gets to seek redemption after HK Sprint failure in 2022
Kranji’s equine superstar Lim’s Kosciuszko will represent Singapore again in the prestigious Longines Hong Kong International Races at Sha Tin on Dec 10.
But this time, he will contest the HK$32 million (S$5.5 million) Group 1 Hong Kong Mile (1,600m), taking on the best milers in the world.
The Lim’s Stable’s reigning Horse of the Year competed in the Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint (1,200m) in 2022, but ran last after setting the pace under jockey Danny Beasley.
The race, then worth HK$24 million (HK$2 million more for 2023), was won by Wellington, one of Hong Kong’s nine runners.
The remaining four contestants were from Japan.
Since then, Lim’s Kosciuszko, named after Australia’s highest mountain, has been all-conquering in 2023.
From seven starts at Kranji, the Daniel Meagher-trained six-year-old byKermadec demonstrated his versatility, scoring six times from 1,200m to 2,000m.
Five of them were in Group 1, including the time-honoured $1 million Singapore Gold Cup in his last start on Nov 11.
It was his first attempt over 2,000m.
He was gallant in his only defeat, finishing a close second to 2022 Gold Cup winner Hongkong Great in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (1,800m) on Oct 14.
When The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s invitation to contest the Hong Kong Mile came, his connections grabbed it.
“It’s just a privilege to be invited again,” said Meagher.
“We pretty much got the call – an expression of interest, really – after his Gold Cup win. We were keen, so we got the ball rolling and it became official last Friday (Nov 17).
“(HKJC’s Head of Racing Product) Greg Carpenter has been great throughout the whole process and thought the mile would suit him best.
“It’s (Hong Kong International Races) the pinnacle of Asian racing; nearly the world. So, to get an invite and race against horses like California Spangle, Beauty Eternal – to name just two – and the internationals is surreal.
“We all learned from last year (2022) and to get another chance is just amazing.”
California Spangle denied fellow Hong Kong contender Golden Sixty three in a row in 2022.
Both are set to make their returns on Dec 10, together with the up-and-coming Beauty Eternal, who won the lead-up race – the Group 2 BOCHK Private Wealth Jockey Club Mile (1,600m) – on Nov 19.
Meagher conceded that Lim’s Kosciuszko was not up to international standard in 2022.
But he was confident that the experience would hold them in good stead.
Furthermore, his charge has had an amazing season.
“We did a few things wrong last year, in my opinion,” he said.
“And, to his credit, he was only beaten six lengths or so after a preparation that wasn’t ideal.
“I trained him for Hong Kong last year instead of keeping to his routine, but he’s a horse that needs a routine.
“Last year, he won a race in November (in a Class 1 race over 1,200m on Nov 19) and his only run before that was three months back (Aug 14) in the (Group 1) Lion City Cup (1,200m).
“So he wasn’t rock-hard fit and we tried to change his routine to suit Hong Kong and it backfired.
“At that time, it felt like the right thing to do and he presented a treat on race day, but routine is in his DNA.
“This year (2023) will be different. His form this year has been outstanding.”
More importantly, Meagher said Lim’s Kosciuszko was never on the quick back-up in his seven runs this year, so consistency – and that routine again – has been the key.
“Work, trial, race and break, then repeat,” he said.
“So he is very fit, obviously in form, very happy within himself and, while we will meet very good horses in Hong Kong – I’m under no illusions there – the mile looks perfect and that the HKJC agrees.
“They saw he improved this year and again, it’s a real privilege they saw fit to invite us.”
Lim’s Kosciuszko will have a final barrier trial on Nov 30 before flying to Hong Kong on Dec 1.
Meagher said he does not know the field yet, but “we have all seen the Hong Kong milers who are world-class”.
“I will worry about what I can; look after and make sure he has every opportunity to show his best,” he added.