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Kosciuszko’s Lion City Cup

First pick Lim’s Lightning pulls out, but Meagher’s yard still takes the sprint

Daniel Meagher added yet another Group 1 feather to his cap on Sunday (Aug 14), but as unequivocal as Lim’s Kosciuszko’s win was in the $300,000 Lion City Cup (1,200m), there were still a few ifs and buts.

The Kermadec five-year-old’s amazing feat of coming back from a slashing Singapore Derby (1,800m) win to take the country’s premier sprint – Meagher’s second after Lim’s Lightning’s last year, which also kicked off his Group 1 juggernaut – will go down as the Australian trainer’s sixth Group 1 win in a career that began only in 2016.

Nothing can change that, but Meagher was categorical it would have been a different outcome had his No. 1 stable star Lim’s Lightning not been scratched.

“Losing Lim’s Lightning to the race was a downer. I’m pretty sure he would have won easily,” he said.

“He took an awkward step on Friday morning. He warmed out of it but, on Saturday morning, he had a swollen back leg. We trotted him up and he was lame.

“Such a shame, as he had barrier one and he would have just sprinted away once they drift out, but take nothing away from Lim’s Kosciuszko. He was the second-best horse, and he’s done a fantastic job to win.

“We had the luxury of having the two best horses in the race. Lim’s Lightning is still a couple of lengths better than Lim’s Kosciuszko.

“But, after the first one came out, we still had the second-best. (Jockey) Danny (Beasley) and I spoke, and we thought we still had a very good chance of winning.”

As it turned out, Beasley was left sitting at home watching the race on TV since Lim’s Lightning was his only booking of the day.

Meagher was happy for Lim’s Kosciuszko’s rider, Wong Chin Chuen, but his heart went out to his good mate.

“This is very special. I have a lot of people to thank, like Mr Lim Siah Mong and Micky Dittman,” said Meagher.

“But special mention must go to Danny Beasley. Dan’s such a massive part of the organisation.

“I’m a little bit disappointed he didn’t have a ride after Lim’s Lightning was scratched, and he’s also the one who rides Lim’s Kosciuszko every day.

“Take nothing away from CC, he did a great job. But, if Lim’s Lightning was not in, Danny would have ridden Lim’s Kosciuszko, 100 per cent.”

Such conjecture can go on forever, but Meagher actually owes serendipity a big favour. 

He could have just ended trophyless had it not been for Mr Lim giving his simple two cents’ worth.

“We were actually looking at a Class 1 race over 1,600m on the same day. But Mr Lim is the one who put it in our heads. ‘He’s a sprinter, why can’t he run in the Lion City Cup?’,” said Meagher.

“We don’t have to change much to our training regimen, we just have to keep him happy.

“After his trial, we couldn’t fault him. He was absolutely thriving.

“He had a soft trial, Danny told me he was flying. So why don’t we just run him in the Lion City Cup?

“I’m so rapt as it’s a massive team effort. Nobody can pot him now. 

“He’s done us proud.”

Meagher was making a barely veiled dig at detractors who thought the bubble had burst after eight wins in a row came to an abrupt end with three successive defeats, including a drubbing in the Kranji Mile (1,600m) in May.

Lim’s Kosciuszko atoned in the Derby, before showcasing a versatility similar to Lim’s Lightning’s with Sunday’s heroics.

Smothered away in fifth in the running, Lim’s Kosciuszko ($15 favourite) quickened up briskly once he straightened up. 

A gallant King Arthur (Blake Shinn) drew first blood but had to settle for second, 3/4 lengths away when Lim’s Kosciuszko swept past. 

Golden Monkey (Mark Zahra) lost no marks in his first stab at elite company with a fast-closing third, another length away, just denying Grand Koonta (Daniel Moor) a podium finish by a head.

The winning time was 1min 08.91sec for the 1,200m on the short course.