Kosi leads Lim's 1-2 in EW Barker, Latest Racing News - The New Paper

Kosi leads Lim's 1-2 in EW Barker

Singapore champion defies cheeky stablemate as well as 8.5kg weight pull in G2 handicap

With 200m to go in the $150,000 Group 2 EW Barker Trophy (1,400m) at Kranji on April 21, Daniel Meagher knew he could not lose the race.

Two of the Australian trainer’s three horses, Lim’s Kosciuszko (Marc Lerner) and Lim’s Saltoro (Bruno Queiroz), were locked in battle, and too far ahead to be caught by their nine rivals.

Like a parent who cannot choose favourites between two children, Meagher would have been happy whichever way the result went.

But when Lim’s Kosciuszko ($12), wearing saddlecloth No. 1, kept digging deep on the outside to hold sway by a short head over a brave Lim’s Saltoro ($32), the quinella was arguably in the order Meagher would have wished for.

He beamed with pride while waiting for the two Lim’s Stable gladiators to return to scale, but nobody would begrudge him for throwing a fist pump when the 1-12 forecast was semaphored.

Lim’s Kosciuszko is the undisputed Kranji megastar who has won all before him – 18 previous wins, including seven at Group 1 level.

With sleepless nights spent at every new challenge, one more notch to Kosi’s – as he is affectionately known as at the yard – tally is always greeted with huge relief.

Unbeaten in five starts – and also touted as Lim’s Kosciuszko’s heir apparent in some quarters – Lim’s Saltoro also had plenty at stake, even if for a first test at the elite level, he stood nothing to lose and everything to gain.

The winning streak did come to an end, but going down only a short head after a titanic battle with his more illustrious stablemate felt more like a win to Meagher, if anything, a dead heat.

“A dead heat would’ve been great, but it’s an awesome result, all the same,” he said.

“For Kosi do that with 59kg against Lim’s Saltoro, an up-and-coming horse who had only 51.5kg (Queiroz rode him 1.5kg over), it was pretty amazing.

“Kosi has his issues, he’s a little bit old now, we’ll see how he pulls up. All going well, he will now head towards his main target, the Kranji Mile – and I think Lim’s Saltoro will also run.”

Lim’s Kosciuszko will be the defending champion in the $1 million Group 1 Kranji Mile (1,600m) on May 18. The Kermadec six-year-old will be even harder to beat back to set-weight conditions.

With main rival Golden Monkey (Chad Schofield) – who even opened as the favourite – finishing third another 2¼ lengths away, it is hard to imagine any from the beaten brigade turning the tables on him, including Lim’s Saltoro.

When the Shamexpress four-year-old showed plenty of cheek on the inside, it looked like the pupil would overthrow the master sooner than anticipated.

The hierarchy was ultimately respected, but Meagher, whose third runner, rank outsider Saturno Spring ran last, said that the 1-2 was a result that still had to be earned.

“With 51.5kg, Lim’s Saltoro had to go forward and Lim’s Kosciuszko could sit third or fourth,” he said.

“But Kosi pulled a bit, which did concern me as I was hoping Lim’s Saltoro to be further in front.

“Marc didn’t panic, and rode him a treat, though. I’m really proud of Marc as there was a lot of pressure on him.

“He’s done a great job on this horse. I take some credit, too, but it’s all about the whole team at the end of the day.

“It’s not easy to train a horse like him. Before Marc, Danny Beasley, then CC (Chin Chuen) Wong were involved in his success. He’s just a special horse.”

Lerner, who has now established a three-from-three record on Lim’s Kosciuszko, including his career highlight in the 2023 Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup (2,000m), had another more personal reason to celebrate the win.

“It’s great to win my 200th race in Singapore for Dan, these colours and in a Group 2 race,” said the Frenchman who has been plying his trade at Kranji since 2019.

“With 59kg, I wanted to get across and be positive so we don’t let the leaders slip away. I thought Street Of Dreams and Super Salute would make us work, but it didn’t work out that way.

“When Street Of Dreams came on my outside around the home turn, that spurred him to the front.

“I was hoping to wait a little longer as Lim’s Saltoro had only 51.5kg, but that adds even more merit to his win.

“I would say he was just as good as he was in the Gold Cup when the other horse (Dream Alliance) on the outside kicked.

“He just has a will to win – that is his 19th win. I can’t wait for the main race in four weeks.”