3 minute read
Lim’s Kosciuszko will be the last horse to compete under the Singapore flag at the famous Hong Kong International Race (HKIR) meeting when he takes his place in the star-studded HK$32 million (S$5.5 million) Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Mile (1600m) at Sha Tin racecourse this Sunday.
Trainer Daniel Meagher will be hoping for the Australian-bred son of Kermadec to do his adopted country proud and show his very best against the likes of two-time Hong Kong Mile (2021 and 2021) winner Golden Sixty, last year's winner California Spangle and a plethora of highly-rated international raiders.
After arriving in Hong Kong on Friday evening, the recent Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup (2000m) winner took the time to settle into his new environment on Saturday before his morning work on the next three days.
"We gave him one lap this morning and I'm really happy with how he is going," said Meagher from Hong Kong on Tuesday.
"He's fit enough and his action is good, so he just needs to be on his game mentally all week.
"He travelled very well on Friday. (Syces) Sham (Samsuri Saadon) and Ayie (Muhammad Masuary) looked after him on the flight and I travelled the same day on another flight with (travelling track rider and jockey) Jimmy (Wong Chin Chuen).
"He (Lim's Kosciuszko) only lost two kilos or so on the flight, which was not bad. He left some food on Saturday morning, which was to be expected and we had planned to give him the day off on Saturday anyway.
"But he was really alert in his new surroundings and well in himself and he only left a very small amount of food on Sunday; so it's all good.
"Jimmy knows him better than anyone and took him out for a slow canter on Sunday. We kept to his normal routine and upped his work on Monday morning to two laps.
"He likes to look around, so we are trying to make him focus a bit more this year. He's a cool character – does his own thing – but we need him to concentrate and benefit from his slow work."
Make no mistake though; team 'Kosi' knows the task ahead will be a tough ask.
There was only one horse based in Singapore – the mighty Colonial Chief – who won on HKIR day in the Hong Kong Invitation Cup (1800m) in 1989, which is now known as the Longines Hong Kong Cup, albeit run over 2000m. Although Singapore's iconic galloper Rocket Man dead heated with One World to win the Group 2 Cathay Pacific Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) in Hong Kong in 2010 one week before the HKIR meeting, he only ran second to JJ The Jet Plane in the Group 1 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) that year and finished 12th in the same race a year later.
Meagher and Lim's Kosciuszko also had a crack at the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) last year and while it was an experience that the young Australian conditioner would not swap for the world, it was disappointing with the pride of Singapore finishing at the rear.
Twelve months later and arguably facing a tougher assignment in the mile, Meagher thought lessons learnt from their first international foray will hold both horse and trainer in good stead. He has also taken a different approach with things the moment he received news of the invite.
"We started preparing on Singapore Gold Cup night (11 November)," said Meagher.
"That's when we got the unofficial invite and the wheels were in motion the very next day. But unlike last year, we didn't change his (Lim's Kosciuszko) routine for Hong Kong and he did what he normally does.
"I think the official invite came the next Friday (17 November) and we started booking flights and other logistics, but his work remained the same right up to his barrier trial last Thursday (won trial no 2 on 30 November in 1 min 1.77secs)."
One change to Lim's Kosciuszko's routine will come on race day when globetrotting Australian jockey Damian Lane gets legged up for the first time.
"Not many better in the world than Damian, so we're happy to have him on board," said Meagher of the Bunbury-born hoop.
"He (Lane) doesn't get here (Hong Kong) until Thursday, so I will have a chat with him after the barrier draw (on Thursday morning) but he has done his homework and already knows a lot about the horse."
While Meagher has his work cut out in Hong Kong, life goes on in Singapore with nine nominations for Saturday's races.
"I have good staff to look after the stables and some solid chances this Saturday," he said.
"I'll have a look after barriers come out on Wednesday but you would think Always Together (x Shalaa) in the ($50,000) Class 4 race (Division 1 over 1100m) and the old boy Lim's Zoom (x Zacinto) in the ($30,000) Class 5 race (Division 1 over 1200m) will go close.
"(Jockey) Marc (Lerner) rides both of them and we will be watching on with more than an interest from Hong Kong."