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Lion City Cup U-Turn for Kosciuszko

Trainer Meagher has change of heart, likely to run Singapore Derby winner in premier sprint

At the Singapore Derby post-race reactions last month, winning trainer Daniel Meagher said that Lim’s Kosciuszko would not head towards the Lion City Cup.

He himself was slightly taken aback by the feat. A 1,200m horse had just won the Derby (1,800m).

The mammoth effort called for a well-deserved break. As much as the 1,200m trip of the $300,000 Group 1 Lion City Cup on Aug 14 is more up Lim’s Kosciuszko’s alley, Meagher was prepared to forego the race he won last year with Lim’s Lightning.

Besides, he was counting on the 2021 Singapore Horse of the Year to return for his title defence.

Two weeks later, Lim’s Kosciuszko figured among the Lion City Cup entries. 

A lack of depth in his stable’s sprinting ranks could not be an excuse. Lim’s Lightning took pride of place as predicted, but he also had Lim’s Dream and Watch Out Boss.

Meagher was not being fickle or greedy.

“I thought of giving Lim’s Kosciuszko a break after the Derby, but he pulled up so well,” he said.

“He had such a tough run over 1,800m, and I thought how much more can I ask of him. I was thinking he’d leave his food, which would tell me he needed a break.

“But he didn’t, he seems to enjoy racing. He’s in terrific form, he’s a tough horse, there aren’t many like him.

“I got him back in work, but he started to get fresh on me.

“I looked at the programme, and spoke to (owner) Mr Lim (Siah Mong). There wasn’t much for him, meaning he would’ve trialled, anyway. 

“Mr Lim said we might as well run him in the Lion City Cup. After all, he’s a sprinter at heart.”

Nothing has been cast in stone yet. They have a fall-back option. 

But with Lim’s Kosciuszko’s stamina still suspect, a half-heartedness about the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (1,800m) and Singapore Gold Cup (2,000m) was palpable.

“We’ve been looking at the QEII Cup and the Gold Cup for Lim’s Kosciuszko, but I’m still not convinced he’s a 1,800m or 2,000m horse,” said Meagher. 

“So, either I give him a six-month break or I keep him going.

“Hence we entered him in the Lion City Cup. There’s also a Class 1 race over 1,600m on the same day.

“We’ll discuss with Mr Lim this Sunday which way we’ll go, but it’ll most likely be the Lion City Cup.”

The Kermadec five-year-old trialled under Derby-winning partner Danny Beasley on Thursday, and typical of his laid-back working style, he ran last, but looking bright.

Ditto, Lim’s Lightning in the very next trial. 

“I was happy with his trial yesterday as well as Lim’s Lightning’s. Danny gave me good feedback on both,” said Meagher.

“Kosciuszko didn’t need a hard trial as he was coming back from 1,800m. It was a stimulating trial.

“He has pulled up really well. CC (Wong Chin Chuen) will ride him and Danny is on Lim’s Lightning.”

It is a bit of a switcheroo given the last time the two Lim’s stars clashed in the International Group 3 Kranji Mile in May, Beasley jumped off at the last minute to get on Lim’s Kosciuszko – and pulled the wrong rein.

Meagher still blames himself for taking a chance with Lim’s Kosciuszko that day, even if he said the yard boasts a solid strike rate with distance tinkering.

“We’ve seen that our training seems to give horses the opportunity to go up to 1,600m, 1,800m and drop back to 1,200m or 1,400m and still win,” he said.

“The good thing is I have such a great team supporting me that I’m not scared to try new things. It’s so much better when a trainer can enjoy this kind of freedom.

“We all make mistakes, and till now, I still kick myself for having run Lim’s Kosciuszko in the Kranji Mile, but we learn as we go along, and he won the Derby after that.”