Lim's Cruiser sixth in Darley July Cup
Gray mulling third UK race or bring his two-time Singapore Champion Sprinter back for the Group 1 Raffles Cup at Kranji
Singapore's champion sprinter Lim's Cruiser finished a closing sixth in the £500,000 (S$850,000) Group 1 Darley July Cup over 1,200m at Newmarket on Saturday - his second attempt in England.
On June 22, the Stephen Gray-trained and Lim's Stable-owned Casino Prince six-year-old ran eighth Godolphin's Blue Point in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes over 1,200m at Royal Ascot.
Saturday's Darley July Cup went to Irish champion trainer Aidan O'Brien's 9-2 second favourite Ten Sovereigns under a faultless front-running ride from champion jockey Ryan Moore.
The O'Brien-Moore combination also won the race, which is the fourth Leg of the 2019 QIPCO British Champions Series in the Sprint category - with US Navy Flag last year.
Ten Sovereigns was O'Brien's fifth Darley July Cup success.
Ridden by Irish jockey John Egan for the first time, Lim's Cruiser, who was quoted at 66-1 with British bookmakers, was in a more rearward position than he was in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes with two-time Singapore champion Vlad Duric atop.
When the pace quickened as they started to climb uphill inside the last 300m, Lim's Cruiser looked a little on the backfoot but, to his credit, he went through his gears late to finish sixth. He was just a little over five lengths off the winner.
Interestingly, Lim's Cruiser was the first older horse across the line. The first five were three-year-olds to whom he gave weight.
The Martyn Meade-trained and 3-1 favourite Advertise took second place with Frankie Dettori astride, 23/4 lengths away.
Fairyland, another O'Brien-trained runner with Seamie Heffernan aboard, was third, three parts of a length away.
The winning time was 1min 09.31sec on a going rated as good to firm.
Gray was again rapt with Lim's Cruiser's gallant effort.
"He's done good again. In the last 100m, he was getting to them, he was getting to them," said the New Zealander.
"Hundred metres past the post, he passed them all. He had a soft run early. I did tell Johnny to ride him quiet which is his normal pattern.
"He came on strong and kept digging. The track was also too firm. If there was some cut in the ground, they would have come back to him.
"Johnny said the way he ran like he did was fantastic, he caught them all. He was beaten by three-year-olds - and he gave them weight and just missed fifth place by a neck.
"We're competing on the world stage. Even if we didn't win, he's done very well and done us proud.
"The good thing is he is getting better and better. It's good for his maturity, he was extremely well-behaved."
Gray would like to believe he has one more bullet left in England, but would prefer to see how Lim's Cruiser pulls up first.
"He had a hard run. He tried hard," he said.
"He's already back at the stables. By the way, he won the best-groomed prize, which is something - good on Lisa (O'Shea)."
Gray said he would monitor Lim's Cruiser and then discuss future plans with the-time Champion Sprinter's owner, Lim Siah Mong.
"It'd be good if we could find a Group 2 or Group 3 race over 1,400m for him. He's done great and is looking for 1,400m now.
"The Goodwood race (Group 2 Lennox Stakes on July 30) would be good. It's worth £300,000.
"I know it was going to be tough today, but it was an opportunity to step up and I feel he's improved by five lengths. To me, he's in the same form he was when he won the Lion City Cup last year.
"Or else, we can also bring him back home and go straight back to the Raffles Cup."
The Group 1 Raffles Cup over 1,600m is the first leg of the Singapore Triple Crown series and will be run on Sept 22.