Sky Eye reaches out for first group race success, Latest Racing News - The New Paper

Sky Eye reaches out for first group race success

Lim’s prolific sprinter earns a well-deserved tilt at elite glory in revamped Kranji Sprint

It is fair to say Sky Eye has found his “happy space” since he joined Jason Lim’s yard.

On Saturday, one of Kranji’s most improved horses brought up his ninth win in 40 starts in the $100,000 Cash Luck 2013 Stakes Class 1 race (1,200m).

More pointedly, it came off as back-to-back wins in Class 1 events, when four seasons ago, he was battling to leave Restricted Maiden company.

Lim said he had no magic formula, but just luck in getting an “easy horse to train” while tweaking a few things around.

“This horse has really improved in the past year,” he said.

“He has put on a lot of weight since he first came to me, and he’s a happy horse.

“He’s a simple horse to train. He’s just a very honest horse.

“He’s also a very good eater. His best friend is Super Salute, they always communicate with each other in the stables.”

Beaten only once in seven starts, stable star Super Salute is Lim’s first Group winner after he took out the Group 2 EW Barker Trophy (1,400m) on April 23.

The I Am Invincible four-year-old, whose next goal is the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge, is Lim’s success story through and through, right from the day he bought him at an Inglis Digital sale.

Until Saturday, Super Salute was Lim’s highest-rated horse on 96, but Sky Eye has leapt over him to 100 after getting five points.

The amazing rise has brought to light another facet of the Australian-trained Singaporean handler. He has the Midas touch with second-hand goods as well.

Sky Eye only came to his yard halfway through his Kranji career.

Even if racing is often a game of timing and luck, nobody would begrudge the in-form trainer for being the one in charge at the last six of Sky Eye’s nine wins.

The son of Per Incanto was a late bloomer. He did not set Kranji ablaze in his early prep, but previous handlers Jerome Tan and Kuah Cheng Tee did lay the groundwork that would lead to three wins under their care, all on Polytrack.

There was no overnight makeover at his first steps under Lim’s regimen, but the penny soon dropped in the 2022 season.

Lim’s bold decision to think out of the Polytrack box was probably the clincher.

Sky Eye did not pivot to turf racing 100 per cent, but in 22 runs for Lim, he had 10 go’s for four wins. He still excelled at his first love, adding another two wins on the all-weather.

Surface versatility is always a great quality to have in a racehorse, but Sky Eye’s greatest asset was probably how he keeps growing a leg whenever he is risen in class.

From Class 4, through to Class 3 until Class 1, the bar was raised, but he answered the question almost every time. He now stands on the cusp of a first shot at Group glory.

“He will go for the Kranji Sprint in two weeks’ time,” said Lim.

The Group 3 Kranji Sprint (1,200m) is making a comeback after going through a rebranding and a discontinuation.

Slated as the second leg of the Singapore Sprint Series in the old days, it was renamed the Rocket Man Sprint after Singapore’s iconic sprinter from 2017 to 2019.

The sprint feature was shelved during the Covid-19 years from 2020 to 2022, and will now be reinstated as the first leg of the newly created Super Sprint Series, and will be run on June 3.

But Sky Eye’s Saturday winning partner Wong Chin Chuen will not be aboard because of a two-day suspension for careless riding on Winning Stride. The Malaysian was certainly impressed with his win as the even-money favourite.

“He’s got a lot of early speed. When Lucky Jinsha came past me, I was happy to sit there,” said Wong, who later won the Group 1 Kranji Mile with Lim’s Kosciuszko.

“But he suddenly charged at the top of the straight. I was a bit worried as it’s the long course, it was too soon to let go.

“Now that he’s getting older, he starts to listen more, he races under the rider’s control.

“All credit to the trainer who has done a very good job. This horse is more flexible now.

“He can jump and lead or jump and sit where he is comfortable. He will give you a good sprint home.”