Meagher keen to fly the Singapore flag in Dubai

In a response to Dubai’s interest in having Lim’s Kosciuszko over for the international races at Meydan this March, trainer Daniel Meagher has nominated Singapore’s best galloper for two Group 1 races at the US$30.5 million (S$40.8 million) Dubai World Cup night on 30 March.

Among 1423 nominations received from 19 countries for the world’s richest race day, the seven-time Group 1 winner could line up either in the US$5 million (S$6.7 million) Group 1 Dubai Turf (1800m) or the US$1.5 million (S$2.01 million) Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint (1200m) should connections decide to go with his third foreign raid.

The six-year-old son of Kermadec, who last ran ninth to the dominating Golden Sixty at his second run in Hong Kong in the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Mile (1600m) last December, is known for his versatility over various distances. Lim’s Kosciuszko has taken all before him at Kranji; only tasting defeat once in seven starts last year when he found one better in Hongkong Great in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (1800m) on 14 October. His overall record of 17 wins from 21 starts at Kranji is peerless.

Lim's Kosciuszko could be making a trip to Dubai this March, picture Singapore Turf Club

While an invitation has not officially arrived and a final decision by connections has yet to be made, Meagher always had the Dubai World Cup meeting – where Rocket Man famously won the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen (1200m) in 2011 – in his plans.

“There are still decisions to be made,” said the Australian conditioner.

“We have to wait for the official invitation and then weigh-up whether we think we are in a winnable race.

“Some really good horses will be there. The Japanese (horses) are always strong and Ballydoyle (Racing Stable and trainer Aidan O’Brien) sends their best, so we will be talking to Dubai officials and see how the fields look before making a final decision.

“We have to think what is best for his (Lim’s Kosciuszko) legacy too. His main aim will be the (Group 1) Kranji Mile (1600m) in May, so we are working backwards from there.”

To be held on 18 May this year, the Kranji Mile was last won by the Lim’s Stable-owned gelding on 20 May last year.

Logistically, and the fact that there were no suitable lead-up races locally to the Kranji Mile, a trip to Dubai could be the best progression to the $1 million feature race.

But after an unforeseen quarantine setback from his Hong Kong raid, the 1200m of the Al Quoz Sprint might be the better option for Lim’s Kosciuszko.

“We had a bit of a disaster after Hong Kong,” explained Meagher.

“He had to do an extra 12 days in quarantine when he got back and to make matters worse, he got sore feet. It was very stressful. In all, he had to do 25 days or so, which was unacceptable.

“While that is done and dusted, it put us back by a few weeks, so it was getting tight with Dubai.

“Ideally, we would have taken him over (to Dubai) early and gave him a run on (Dubai World Cup Carnival) Super Saturday (2 March) in the Group 3 (Nad Al Sheba Turf) Sprint over 1000m.

“That’s not happening now but his coat was just starting to come good and he’s started to get into (track)work. We plan to give him three trials in preparation if he goes to Dubai.

“To be honest, there is not much for him here (Singapore) before the Kranji Mile.

“Last year, he had the (Group 3) Merlion Trophy (1200m) and the (Group 1) Raffles Cup (1600m) as lead-up races and they were both weight-for-age (conditions).

“This year, unfortunately, we (Lim’s Kosciuszko) would have to carry and give weight in the (Group 3) Committee’s Prize (1600m on 9 March) and the (Group 2) EW Barker Trophy (1400m on 21 April), which are both handicap races. That’s not ideal.

“So, the Al Quoz Sprint could be the race we target, with the Kranji Mile still his main aim.

“But (owner) Mr Lim (Siah Mong) is the boss and we will have a good think about what we want to achieve this year. He (Lim’s Kosciuszko) has plenty of weight-for-age races to target locally from July onwards and those races will be his swansong in Singapore.

“He might have another crack at ‘the handicap’ (the Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup over 2000m on 5 October).”

Putting Dubai talks aside, Meagher still has a stable to run locally and will saddle four horses at Saturday’s 11-race meeting.

Of his quartet of runners, Meagher thought Lim’s Bighorn, a last-start maiden winner in an Open Maiden race over 1200m on 6 January, should go close in the $30,000 Class 5 race (1100m).

“I can’t believe how much this horse (Lim’s Bighorn) has improved since day one,” said Meagher of the three-year-old son of Better Than Ready.

“He has to carry 59 kilos against some experienced horses on Saturday, but I think he is a smart horse and (jockey) Marc (Lerner) knows him well.”