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A Kosi hit-out 9 days ahead of Kranji Mile

Lim’s Kosciuszko looks in mint condition at casual third in trial tune-up for May 18 date

Back to the set-weight conditions of the Group 1 Kranji Mile (1,600m), Lim’s Kosciuszko looms as an almost insurmountable adversary on May 18.

After watching Singapore’s arguably best horse since Rocket Man stroll around at his usual pre-big race barrier trial on May 9, many may well drop the “almost”.

Posted on the outskirts throughout, the seven-time Group 1 winner ambled around three wide, minding his own business.

It was only when eventual winner Ghalib (Manoel Nunes) upped the ante inside the last 200m that that competitive side in Lim’s Kosciuszko woke up ever so slightly.

As Marc Lerner – who will be bidding for a four-from-four on him in the $1 million Kranji Mile – also gave him a niggle, he promptly pinned his ears back.

The familiar sight of a finishing line he has vanquished 19 times probably felt like “white line fever”.

But Lerner resisted the temptation, saving the best for race day.

His champion may have won all before him, but Meagher still gets pre-race jitters.

The Australian could, however, sleep a little easier later that night after such a “stimulating trial”.

“It was just a stimulating trial. Kosi has come through his last run good,” said Meagher, in reference to that Group 2 EW Barker Trophy gut-buster on April 21 when he overcame stablemate Lim’s Saltoro and a 7.5kg pull in weights.

“He actually recovered really quickly even after such a tough win. He’s put the little weight he lost back on.

“I’ve given him his usual routine since, and today’s trial was the perfect hit-out to round it off.”

Having had the Kermadec six-year-old under his care since 2021, Meagher sure knows what makes his horse tick.

But he does not get complacent, especially as horses are not machines – and time goes by.

“My confidence levels are good, even if we can’t go to the well too often. But the thing is every time we have, he’s done well,” said Meagher.

“I can only hope he can have a quiet week leading up to the Kranji Mile. He’s in great form and he should run well again.”

Meagher does not ooze the same confidence with his second Kranji Mile contender Tiger Roar who, incidentally, ran in the same trial.

A troublesome near-fore knee has been the scourge of the Wandjina six-year-old for most of a career which still yielded a Group 3 Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint (1,200m) win in 2021 when prepared by Michael Clements.

In two runs for Meagher, the talented seven-time winner has not set Kranji alight, and neither did his trial on May 9.

Getting his Sprint winning partner Simon Kok jumping back aboard was a boon, though.

The reunited pair trailed from the start and barely made much ground to finish last. But Kok, who has yet to score in 10 Kranji rides since returning from a brief French stint, did get some good vibes.

“I scratched him from the Barker because of a foot abscess on top of his other leg issues,” said Meagher.

“You can’t expect much from him in trials because he’s not a 1,000m horse and he doesn’t warm up till the end.

“We don’t let him do much, but he seems okay. Simon, for one, was happy with the trial.”

For a few days after the EW Barker Trophy, Meagher did toy with the idea of a three-pronged title defence of a race he won with Lim’s Kosciuszko in 2023.

Lim’s Saltoro’s brave second to Lim’s Kosciuszko did make him rethink about the previously undefeated four-year-old being just a throwaway Kranji Mile entry.

A quiet third place, 10 lengths off new sensation Pacific Vampire in the next trial, still gave fans a glimmer of hope he might run, but Meagher said realism won the day.

“If he couldn’t beat Kosi with 51.5kg, I don’t see how he can beat him at level weights,” he said. “So I took him out of the Kranji Mile.

“He’ll run in the Class 1 1,200m instead and he’s had a nice trial today. With 50kg, Bruno Queiroz, who rode him terrific in the Barker, will ride him again.

“There may not be enough runners in that race, though. If the race is scrapped, he’ll go straight to the first leg of the 4YO series.”