Lim’s Puncak Jaya revives old pairing
Meagher to book jockey Woodworth more often again with Kranji riding-ranks changes
On Nov 11, trainer Daniel Meagher walked down to the Kranji winner’s stall to lead in his megastar Lim’s Kosciuszko to arguably the most epic of his 17 wins, the Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup (2,000m).
One week later, on Nov 18, the Australian was back at the same spot, and around the same time for another Lim’s Stable winner, the more modest Lim’s Puncak Jaya in only a Class 4 race.
While the level of jubilation could not possibly match up, Meagher was still seen throwing a fist-pump on the way down.
He did not quite hug the horse this time, but the jockey instead.
“Ronald Benedict Woodworth, he’s a legend. This is our 46th winner together,” he said, as he wrapped his arm around the Malaysian hoop at the winner’s box.
The Meagher-Woodworth love story goes back a long way, even during the time the now 50-year-old jockey booted home scores of winners for Meagher’s father John.
The Ipoh-born rider has been part of the furniture since Meagher took up a trainer’s licence in 2016. He even gave the young trainer his first Group success with Secret Win in the Group 3 El Dorado Classic (2,200m) in 2017.
Of course, the floodgates have since swung wide open with a spate of Group 1 wins (11) from Lim’s Lightning and Lim’s Kosciuszko, but Woodworth was not the go-to jockey then.
At the height of their association in 2019, Woodworth rode 23 of Meagher’s 52 winners.
But then in 2020, along with Covid-19 came a shift in dynamics, as well as the return of Meagher’s old partner Danny Beasley to fill a gap in the riding ranks.
Woodworth still mustered five wins for Meagher in an abridged season that featured fewer races because of the pandemic.
The winners have since been few and far between – zero in 2021 with Woodworth riding in Mauritius, and only two in 2022, No More Delay and their last win with Lim’s Passion on July 31, 2022.
“It’s been a long time, it’s good to finally get a winner – more so when it’s for Dan,” said Woodworth, whose own win-meter had stalled at Mr Big Brother for Mahadi Taib on June 17.
“Big thanks to Dan. He has always been a friend and a supporter of mine, even if I didn’t ride a lot for him in the last couple of years.”
There are only 11 months left before horse racing ceases to exist in Singapore – on Oct 5, 2024 – but it is highly likely the two friends will link up more often until then.
“I put Benny on Lim’s Puncak Jaya today. Louis-Philippe (Beuzelin who was Lim’s Puncak Jaya’s rider at the last three successive seconds) has gone to Australia,” said Meagher.
“But I actually want to give Benny more rides from now on, especially with CC (Wong Chin Chuen) out (suspended for four months).”
Besides being Lim’s Kosciuszko’s race-rider, Wong also took some of Meagher’s lighter-handicapped horses when No. 1 jockey Marc Lerner cannot make the weight.
Woodworth’s booking on Lim’s Puncak Jaya could not have been a better pointer who may well take over Wong for that role.
In the $50,000 Class 4 race (1,400m), the Pure Champion six-year-old carried 54.5kg.
As Lerner would have to waste to ride at that weight, he instead went for the James Peters-trained Flaming Migliore, who had 58kg.
Woodworth was in no time given the heads-up for the Lim’s Puncak Jaya ride.
“I trialled the horse last Thursday (Nov 9), I had a good feedback from Benny, he told me the horse was ready,” said Meagher.
“There’s only one way to ride this horse. He has to establish the lead and we then just let him roll.
“He was tough and gutsy. It was a big thrill to see Benny win again.”
In a 32-year career that has spawned around 1,100 winners, Woodworth has sat on better cattle than Lim’s Puncak Jaya.
But, he certainly would not mind another go on the three-time winner (1,400m to 1,600m), especially over more ground.
“I trialled this horse last week and he trialled really well,” he said.
“The track was a bit cut up with the rain but he handled it well. He can also go over longer.”