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Lim’s Kosciuszko returns for G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile

Lim’s Kosciuszko exercises at Sha Tin all-weather track.  - Photo: HKJC
Lim’s Kosciuszko exercises at Sha Tin all-weather track.

Photo: HKJC

Faced with the honour of training potentially Singapore’s last champion and international runner, Dan Meagher isn’t under-estimating the challenge for Lim’s Kosciuszko (Kermadec) in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) at Sha Tin on Sunday.

With racing to officially end on the island after 180 years with the running of the 100th edition of the Singapore Cup in October 2024, Meagher is keen to add another accolade to the six-year-old gelding’s glittering career, which includes wins from 1200m to 2000m and seven Group One victories.

Lim’s Kosciuszko – who was bred by Trelawney Stud and is Singapore’s reigning champion horse of the year – is back at Sha Tin after a modest effort in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) at last December’s Hong Kong International Races.

But this time around Meagher believes the gelding will be better suited to the 1600m trip where he will face-off against the likes of local heroes Golden Sixty and California Spangle; Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien’s Cairo, France’s Tribalist and five Japanese raiders.

It will be tough, but the expatriate Australian is looking forward to the challenge of racing against an array of top milers.

“He has travelled really well and he should because it’s his second time and had a trial in Singapore before we left,” Meagher said.

“He won’t be going on the grass. I am just going to stick to what I would do with him back in Singapore and he always trials the week before.

“In his career he has never galloped in the week of his race. He will go a bit quicker some days but mainly I’ll just keep him happy and content.”

The 40-year-old Meagher is unperturbed by people who question Lim’s Kosciuszko’s Singapore form, but he doesn’t care and points to his winning record from sprints to 2000m.

“He has won 17 races,” he said. “He is no duffer and we are up against the best, so of course we might be exposed a little bit, obviously but you expect that.

“But I had a horse before him called Lim’s Lightning (also a Group 1 winner), and I have only been training for seven years, so I have had two champion Singapore horses and I’m really lucky.

“But what this horse has done, not many have done it in Singapore.”

While Meagher concedes the legendary sprinter Rocket Man was Singapore’s best galloper, he was restricted to 1200m races but says Lim’s Kosciuszko has shown his versatility by going from 1200m to 1600m and then back to 1200m and then to 2000m.

He is also a 1600m course record holder at Kranji.

Meagher, the son of Australian Hall Of Famer trainer John Meagher, is likely to join his brother Chris’ Queensland training operations when racing stops in Singapore.

“It’s really sad to be honest that the history has gone,” he said.

“It was a great hub for horses and for the many people who have gone through it.

“I am just doing the best I can and you never know what opportunities might come along in the next six months.

“And I probably wouldn’t be there now if I didn’t have this horse.”

The only setback to Lim’s Kosciuszko’s Hong Kong campaign is the current suspension to Jimmy Wong who has ridden the gelding to five Group One victories but he has travelled to Sha Tin to ride him in track work. He has been replaced by Australian Damian Lane who has ridden a Group One winner for Chris Meagher.

“We are up here having a bit of fun and doing our best,” Meagher said.

“It’s a lot more relaxed this time around.

“Last time I didn’t prepare him as I should have and over-thought it.”

Before tackling last year’s 1200m Hong Kong Sprint, Lim’s Kosciuszko won three consecutive races, including two G1 victories which were the first of his career.

His form since returning from last year’s Sha Tin Sprint has been impeccable with his seven runs netting five wins at the highest level, a G3 win over 1200m in his comeback run, with his only blemish a narrow and unlucky second in the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (1800m) in October.

He notched up a victory at his most recent run in the G1 Singapore Gold Cup (2000m) on 11 November. - HKJC