Lim's Kosciuszko is back, no sweat on polytrack, Latest Racing News - The New Paper

Lim's Kosciuszko is back, no sweat on polytrack

After dismal HK outing, Meagher’s star romps home in Group 3 Merlion Trophy

Any queries about Lim’s Kosciuszko’s ability to score first-up in the $110,000 Group 3 Merlion Trophy (1,200m) were answered in no uncertain terms by yet another pulsating win on Saturday.

The smart sprinter-miler’s disappointing turn in Hong Kong in December brought back that sinking feeling our best horses may reign supreme at home but cannot hold a candle to their overseas counterparts, with Rocket Man the only exception to the rule.

Even trainer Daniel Meagher echoed that hard truth when he summed up the failure by declaring his charge was “not good enough on the world stage”.

Lim’s Kosciuszko’s quarantine glitches on the return leg rubbed more salt into the wound.

Opinions were divided on whether a crushing defeat in alien territory would leave scars or the swagger would return on home soil.

But when Meagher chose a Polytrack feature as his first-up race, experts could add another chink in the armour to the narrative.

At his previous 14 starts, the son of Kermadec raced only on turf for a stellar record of 11 wins, including two at Group 1 level.

However, the doubters were silenced pretty much from barrier rise.

Lim’s Kosciuszko was out of the machine like a flash – like he did in the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint (1,200m) before fading.

Except that Wong Chin Chuen held his fire when speedy mare and Polytrack specialist Celavi (Simon Kok) speared over from a wide alley to vie for the lead.

Lim’s Kosciuszko even got shuffled back to fourth, which could be worrying for a first-timer on the all-weather surface.

But other than Illustrious (Yusoff Fadzli) briefly shifting across the $8 favourite before the first bend, Wong had deftly steered clear of any kickback.

If anything, it was clear daylight all around him once he pushed his way to the front upon cornering.

The rest was poetry in motion. Lim’s Kosciuszko extended his lead as Wong thrusted the five-year-old’s big engine into overdrive. Inside the last 200m, King Arthur (Manoel Nunes) and Rocket Star (Marc Lerner) mounted a late siege on the horse named after Australia’s highest mountain.

But gallant as their efforts were, Lim’s Kosciuszko was beyond reach in his conquest of a 12th summit. King Arthur was second, 2½ lengths adrift, with Rocket Star third, another head away. The winning time was 1min 10.32sec.

Only in his third prep, Lim’s Kosciuszko has earned around $860,000 for Lim’s Stable.

Meagher was over the moon his precious charge has bounced back to his best, even if the Hong Kong experience still stung.

“It was a tough Hong Kong trip. I was pretty disappointed,” he said.

“We brought him back but we also had a troublesome run. He’s done a good job, good horses can do it, though. Jimmy’s (Wong) done a good job, too, but I have to thank all the staff, Razif Rahman who rides him every day, groom Samsuri Saadon, everybody.”

Meagher explained why he was not scared of testing uncharted territory for his champion first-up.

“He never raced on Polytrack. It’s always a concern but, because he’s a front running horse, he’ll be out of the kickback,” he said.

Meagher earlier won the $50,000 Class 4 1,800m race with another Lim’s Stable runner, Saturno Spring (Lerner, $20).

But the celebrations were all about Lim’s Kosciuszko, while talks about loftier targets can already begin.

“We’ll get him ready for the Raffles Cup. He won’t run until then but his main target is the Kranji Mile,” said Meagher.

Oddly enough, the Group 1 Raffles Cup (1,600m) in question is an offshoot version slated into the 2022-2023 calendar and will be held on March 25, while the one to be held later in September is revived as the original first leg of the reinstated Singapore Triple Crown series. The $1 million Group 1 Kranji Mile (1,600m) is due on May 20.

Whether Wong stays for the ride remains to be seen despite his spotless record of three-from-three on Lim’s Kosciuszko, the highlight no doubt being the Group 1 Lion City Cup (1,200m) in August.

“He’s like a machine. He’s a proven horse,” said Wong.

“I’m happy he’s won again. That will get his confidence level back up.”

Saturday's Singapore Results:  PDF iconresult05a.pdf