Lim’s Kosciuszko has put himself in the rarest of air by winning Group 1 races over a more varied distance than any other gallopers in over 180 years of racing history at the Singapore Turf Club.
But it was not easy as jockey Marc Lerner had to use petrol early from the widest barrier 16 on Lim’s Kosciuszko before settling on the flank of leader Maxima (A’Isisuhairi Kasim) into the first bend.
Once the early work was done, the experienced Frenchman was able to settle the $11 favourite in the backstraight and when Real Efecto (Clyde Leck) made a mid-race move to keep the pressure on the leader, Lerner was able to find cover one-back on the fence before straightening for home.
Lerner wasted no time looking for runs by barging his way into the clear at the 420m and quickly had Maxima’s measure after he hit the front at the 300m. Yet, Dream Alliance (Bruno Queiroz) also almost immediately raced up to his shoulders and it was a monumental battle in the final 250m.
Dream Alliance headed Lim’s Kosciuszko on numerous occasion over the final furlong and given the seven-kilo weight advantage on the Tim Fitzsimmons-trained five-year-old’s side, a boilover win looked to be on the cards with the reigning Horse of the Year seemingly on the canvas.
But like all champions do, Lim’s Kosciuszko found something when it mattered and under furious riding by Lerner in the final 50m, he lifted to win by a short head.
The drama was not even close to being over as after Lerner weighed in, a protest was lodged by Queiroz, citing interference in the straight. Thankfully – especially for those with an interest in the first horse over the line - it did not take long before the protest was dismissed and the happy winning connections had both hands officially on the most revered trophy in Singapore racing.
The winner clocked 2 min 0.67secs for the 2000m on the Short Course and Lim’s Kosciuszko’s 17th win in 21 starts took career earnings to just under $2.5 million for his connections.
But these wins are bigger than just prizemoney and an emotional Meagher was almost lost for words to describe Saturday’s heroic win.
“It was amazing! What can I say?” said the Australian conditioner.
“I can train him (Lim’s Kosciuszko) to be fit, to be sound, to be happy, but I can’t train him to be tough.
“When it’s all said and done, that’s what won him the race today. He jumped from gate 16, carried the top weight and had every right to get beat in that final furlong.
“But he just toughed out the finish and that’s what makes champion horses.”
Meagher was also full of praise for his opposition, Lerner and his stable staff after the historic win.
“That was a race and half,” he continued.
“Dream Alliance was super in defeat. (Trainer) Tim (Fitzsimmons) did a fantastic job with him and he’s a horse with a big future for sure.
“Marc was great today, in fact for the last few weeks. He (Lerner) hadn’t ridden the horse until (jockey) CC (Wong Chin Chuen) got suspended, so for him to ride him like he did today from that gate was special.
“My only instructions were to win the start and cross, then it was up to him (Lerner). Super ride, really.
“The stable staff has been so important as well. All of them, but especially (groom) Sham (Samsuri Bin Saadon) who spends all his time with him, and with me looking over his shoulder, that’s not easy! Also a shout-out to CC who rode him exclusively for the last ten months or so.”
For Lerner, the Group 1 win capped off a wonderful year of riding for the Lim’s Stable but like Meagher, he was just in awe of a special horse.
“The horse! Just the horse! He is a superstar!” said Lerner.
“He jumped super and put himself right where we wanted to be. Maxima was a good horse to follow and when he (Lim’s Kosciuszko) relaxed mid-race, I knew he would be hard to beat.
“Dream Alliance had his head in front most of the final 300m, but my horse kept finding more and like they say, good horses overcome everything. He’s a good horse.
“Every jockey dreams of winning races like this. I had a super year for (owner) Mr Lim (Siah Mong) but the only thing missing was winning a big race for the Lim’s Stable and Daniel.
“It’s a massive thrill for me.” - STC