Last year’s undisputed “King of Kranji”, Lim’s Lightning, took a step closer towards his return for his new campaign after he came out for his first 2022 barrier trial on Thursday.
As is his norm, and in trainer Daniel Meagher’s familiar style of not rushing his charges early in their prep, the dual Group 1 Lion City Cup (1200m) and Singapore Gold Cup (2000m) winner was not out to break any records.
Ridden by regular partner Danny Beasley, the Lope De Vega six-year-old settled at the rear, and only got a bit of a squeeze when he swept out wide before the home turn. He didn’t press on, however, was just allowed to amble to the line untested to eventually beat one home, just under seven lengths off the winner Nepean.
Lim's Lightning (Danny Beasley) hits the line first in the 2021 Singapore Gold Cup, picture Singapore Turf Club
“He trialled nicely today, it was a quiet trial, and Danny was happy with it,” said Meagher.
“He is only four kilos up his ideal weight, but he has overall maintained his shape. Obviously, he’s still temperamental, but he looks terrific and is where we want him to be.”
Now that first warm-up exercise has been ticked, the question on everybody’s lips now is ‘where is this all heading for the champ this year at his fourth Singapore season?’.
While talks of a Dubai raid had done the rounds at the end of last year, Meagher seems to have had a change of heart. Even if nothing has been set in concrete yet, it’s unlikely Lim’s Lightning will travel.
“The Dubai idea is a little off the table now,” he said.
“He’s a very dominant and structured horse. He doesn’t like to be disturbed in his routine, and he’ll also take on a massively different set of horses over there.
“His main aim was and is still the Kranji Mile which is on May 25. That makes it around six weeks between races if he goes to Dubai, not forgetting two weeks of quarantine.
“I think it’s not worth it if it upsets his routine. I spoke to (owner) Mr Lim (Siah Mong) last week, and he’s happy to just let us do what we think is best for the horse.”
Whether it’s a desert raid or staying at home to concentrate on the local riches, Lim’s Lightning is expected to make his seasonal reappearance next month.
“We will bring him back at that Class 1 race over 1400m on February 2 (second day of Chinese New Year),” said Meagher.
“After that, it’s the same old problem where we don’t have many races for him leading up to the next big race, the Lion City Cup in August (14).
“So in between, we’ll just have to trial him here and there, to keep him relatively fit.”
All that fancy footwork to establish the right equilibrium between suitable races, racing frequency and ultimately, racing fitness, has put Meagher in good stead for the race planning of his rising star, the one dubbed as the heir apparent to Lim’s Lightning, the yet-to-be-beaten Lim’s Kosciuszko.
On the same Singapore Gold Cup day, stablemate Lim's Kosciuszko (Danny Beasley) made it a four-in-a-row, picture Singapore Turf Club
The Kermadec four-year-old is gunning for a fifth success in as many starts as the bar is raised in this Saturday’s $70,000 Class 3 race over 1200m, given his last win came at Class 4 level on Singapore Gold Cup day on November 14.
“It’s his toughest test by far, but he had to step up at some stage,” said Meagher.
“But all’s looking well with him, there are no negatives to him. His second in that barrier trial last week (January 6) was very good, considering he’s not a flash worker and is quite a plain individual.
“But even though he’s your typical Kiwi gelding (Australian-bred but bought out of New Zealand trials) and doesn’t impress a lot on the tracks, he has come through his last start very well.
“We can’t complain, but unfortunately, he’s a little bit like Lim’s Lightning, there’s not much coming up for him. It’s a tough one.
“If he wins this, then he’ll go to Class 2, and there are only a couple of races for him. Obviously, if he wins this Saturday, and only if he wins, the main aim is the Lion City Cup – if he’s good enough.
“But we can’t keep him going like this if we plan towards the Lion City Cup. We’ve got to make sure he runs and give him a freshen-up on his way to grand final day.”
Should the two Lim’s stars end up on a collision course in Singapore’s premier sprint, Beasley, who was aboard Lim’s Kosciuszko at three of his four wins, will be dealing with a happy headache.
But a lot of water will run under the bridge in eight months’ time. To Meagher, the horse named after Australia’s highest mountain has to first pass that next camp on his climb to the top, even if many think it’s a done deal.
“The horse is really well, and whether he should be hard to beat, I’d like to think so, even if in racing, anything can happen,” said Meagher.
“It’s his hardest race thus far, and if he wins, then we can start making big plans for him.”