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Golden Monkey warming up for third Lion City Cup tilt

3 minute read

Golden Monkey will line up in the $100,000 Kranji Stakes A race (1200m) on Sunday as a final warm-up before he attempts to make it “third time lucky” in the Group 1 Lion City Cup (1200m) on 28 July.

GOLDEN MONKEY winning the FLAX 2012 STAKES KRANJI STAKES A Picture: Race Images South

Now the second highest-rated galloper in Singapore after Lim's Kosciuszko, the Tim Fitzsimmons-trained gelding placed in the last two installments of Singapore's premier sprint race, both times behind winner Lim's Kosciuszko.

Although the Kranji Stakes A race this Sunday has only six nominations, with Golden Monkey as the highest-rated horse on 105, it will still be a good guide towards the Lion City Cup with the Steven Burridge-trained Ghalib (102 points) also in the field.

Back in 2022, the son of Star Turn finished third in the Lion City Cup as a four-year-old with two-time Melbourne Cup winning jockey Mark Zahra in the irons but he had excuses not to finish closer to Lim's Kosciuszko.

Last year, barely a month after winning the Group 1 Singapore Derby (1800m), Golden Monkey ran a bottler in the Lion City Cup with jockey Hugh Bowman in the saddle, but again settled for second to his nemesis, Lim's Kosciuszko.

Now with Lim's Kosciuszko almost certain to have a crack at a third straight victory in the Lion City Cup this year, Fitzsimmons hoped a slight change in plans and a big run this Sunday could see Golden Monkey rain on the 'Kosi' parade.

"It wasn't in the original plans," said the 2022 Singapore champion trainer about the run this Sunday.

"But he (Golden Monkey ) came through his last race (Kranji Stakes A over 1400m on 16 June) really well and we thought this run would be ideal given it's held three weeks before the Lion City (Cup).

"If he didn't run in this, he would have had a trial next week anyway. It's a small field on Sunday and he can pick up a decent cheque; so it's definitely the better option.

"We know it's a really big ask to beat (Lim's) Kosciuszko in the Lion City (Cup) - God knows we have tried - but our boy will give it a shake.

"I don't think we would have beaten him (Lim's Kosciuszko) in 2022, but he (Golden Monkey) had only turned four and did it tough (wide) in the running, so I thought it was a massive effort.

"His run last year was as good as it could have been, but again, it's no disgrace to be beaten by a horse like Lim's Kosciuszko.

"But who knows this year? Not many more honest than Golden Monkey. I think he has only missed a top-four finish once in 22 starts (ran ninth in a Kranji Stakes A race over 1200m on 23 January 2023), so he deserves anything that comes his way."

Of Sunday's assignment, Fitzsimmons hoped to turn the tables on Ghalib, who beat Golden Monkey into second in a Kranji Stakes A race over 1400m on 16 June, with a more genuine pace expected over six furlongs.

"I am hoping for a more genuine pace this weekend," he explained.

"Hopefully the horses who have led in the past will do so again and there is some early speed in the race. The tempo beat him (Golden Monkey) at his last start.

"In saying that, small fields can be tricky and (jockey) Ryan (Curatolo) will play it (the pace) by ear and we may ride him a little differently.

"I was really happy with how he (Golden Monkey) galloped last Thursday and he will have some light work tomorrow (Wednesday)."

On the Singapore Derby front, Fitzsimmons was very happy with how Lightning Strike hit the line in the Group 2 Stewards' Bowl (1600m) last Sunday and will be 'cherry-ripe' for his 1800m Group 1 assignment on 21 July.

"I was rapt with that run," he said of the Impending son's fourth-place finish to Lim's Saltoro.

"They went slow mid-race and when they sprinted, he was caught flat-footed, so they put a couple of lengths on him but he hit the line as good as anything.

"He raced a bit more forward than we would have liked in the Stewards' Cup, but that was the product of the lack of speed. Ideally, we will ride him quieter in the (Singapore) Derby because there should be a good tempo.

"We always thought that Lightning Strike was going to be an 1800m horse and he will get his chance in a few weeks or so.

"It would be nice to win the last ever Derby in Singapore, but again, it will be hard to beat the juggernaut, (trainer) Dan (Daniel) Meagher racing!"

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