Singapore Racing: Time Is Gold As Monkey Aims To Seize All Four Group Opportunities

The Tim Fitzsimmons-trained Golden Monkey may have bigger fish to fry in the coming months, but a win in Sunday’s $100,000 Kranji Stakes A race over 1400m would be the “perfect entrée”.

Lining up as the top-rated runner (105 points) in the small five-horse field after Sky Eye and Senor Don were scratched, the five-year-old son of Star Turn looked very hard to beat on paper, given this will be a rare run out of Group company and he is also well-weighted at the race conditions; despite carrying 59.5kgs.

Golden Monkey had frequently placed behind the dominating Lim’s Kosciuszko on more than one occasion at the highest level, with his latest and last-start third in the Group 1 Kranji Mile (1600m) on 18 May, but he had found it hard to win of late.

In fact, since his Group 1 Singapore Derby (1800m) victory in July last year, connections had only headed to the champagne room on one occasion after he scored in the Group 3 Fortune Bowl (1400m) on 11 February.

It was a statistic that belied the Jig Racing/Elvin Stable-owned gelding because he races consistently well at the top level of racing in Singapore and has a turn of foot that is the envy of many.

Now, winning at any level could bring confidence that perhaps, would be needed to turn the tables on the likes of nemesis, Lim’s Kosciuszko, in the handful of Group races left before Kranji’s last meeting on 5 October.

Josh McLoughlan, part-owner of Golden Monkey and the principal of Jig Bloodstock, works closely with Fitzsimmons and he was certain of the fact.

“I think we have the second-best horse in Singapore,” said McLoughlan of the four-time Group winner.

“It’s just a shame he’s run into arguably the second-best horse, Lim’s Kosciuszko, in the history of Singapore racing (after Rocket Man).

“While I rate Rocket Man the best, he was a sprinter. (Lim’s) Kosciuszko is the most versatile, so we can’t dodge him over any distance.

“So a race like this one on Sunday is a good way to get him (Golden Monkey) back into a winning habit.

“In saying that, we don’t take any race for granted, but I think we are in well at the race conditions and 1400m in a small field will suit him.

“And there is no (Lim’s) Kosciuszko to contend with, so that’s in our favour for sure.”

But the respite will be for one race only with Golden Monkey’s next four runs, and most likely his last four races at Kranji, all likely to be up against two-time Horse of the Year in Singapore, Lim’s Kosciuszko.

“We can’t dodge him,” continued McLoughlan.

“We will head to the (Group 1) Lion City Cup (over 1200m on 28 July) next, which we have placed second (2023) and third (2022) behind Lim’s Kosciusko in the last two years.

“That race will get him ready for the (Group 1) Raffles Cup (1600m) a couple of weeks later (on 11 August) and then the (Group 1) Queen Elizabeth II Cup (1800m) in September (7).

“Then we’ll probably give him a crack at the last (Group 1) Singapore Gold Cup (2000m) if Tim thinks he can see out the 2000m.

“So, only four runs left for him after Sunday for him to take the big scalp before the place (Singapore Turf Club) closes.

“His racing pattern makes it tough. He is best ridden cold as his explosive turn of foot only last 250m or thereabouts.

“Given (Lim’s Kosciuszko) puts himself into races on the pace, we often have six or more lengths to make up, which is hard against a horse as good as him, but given the right circumstances, we can do it.

“He’s (Golden Monkey) won the Derby and was the champion three (2022) and four-year-old (2023) in Singapore but really deserves an open Group 1 (win) on his CV.”

Like all good trainers, Fitzsimmons would like to take it one race at a time and thought Sunday would be a great launching pad for his stable star.

“He’s really well at the moment,” said the Australian conditioner.

“And this race looks like a really good race for him.

“It’s a small field so (jockey) Ryan (Curatolo) will ride him where comfortable and save him up for one last crack at them.

“After Sunday, we go to the Lion City Cup, the Raffles Cup and the QEII Cup. And maybe the Gold Cup if he runs well over 1800m (in the QEII).

“So, hopefully four more Group runs to show his best”.

– Singapore Turf Club

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