Lim's Cruiser's Lion City Cup
Mixed emotions for trainer Gray as winner's stablemate and favourite Emperor Max bled in the Group 1 race
LIM'S CRUISER captured his third consecutive Group success yesterday and has been hailed as the next big thing by his trainer, Stephen Gray.
Last November, the Lim's Stable's rising star raced away to win the $350,000 Group 2 EW Barker Trophy over 1,400m and bounced back after a three-and-a-half-month rest to score a last-stride victory in the $200,000 Group 3 Rocket Man Sprint over 1,200m, which was the second leg of the Singapore Sprint Series.
It had been only three weeks since his last triumph after the break but, being the champion that he was, Lim's Cruiser was not affected one iota by the second-run syndrome.
In fact, the four-year-old won with greater authority in yesterday's $800,000 Group 1 Lion City Cup race, which was delayed by 10 minutes because of a thunderstorm.
The Lion City Cup was the final leg of the Sprint Series and Lim's Cruiser picked up a $50,000 bonus for winning two legs of the series.
Ridden by jockey Danny Beasley, Lim's Cruiser raced midfield beside the rails as stablemate and $15 favourite Emperor Max disputed the lead with Wimbledon, who then kicked slightly clear.
Wimbledon led Emperor Max into the straight, hounded by the only three-year-old, Forever Young, and Hip Hip Hooray. Storm Troops loomed up menacingly on the outside.
Beasley raised the mainsail on the inside and his mount cruised to the front shortly after the 300m mark. Storm Troops gave chase but to no avail. Alibi, who was squeezed out shortly after the start and dropped back, came charging home but Lim's Cruiser was home and hosed, winning by two lengths.
As the second favourite, he paid $19 for his sixth win in nine starts.
It was a bitter-sweet moment for Gray, as Emperor Max, the horse deemed as the most deserving of victory, bled again.
Emperor Max had been placed second twice in the Lion City Cup, going down gallantly to Zac Spirit in 2014 and last year, and was third to War Affair in 2015.
Although Lim's Cruiser gave him his first Lion City Cup, Gray choked with emotion over Emperor Max's second successive bleeding attack, which has virtually ended his racing career.
"It's a bit sad actually. I don't know what to say," said a quivering Gray.
Turning to Lim's Cruiser's win, he said: "He's got the gears, he's got the goods and he's probably the next big thing...but I just don't know what to say."
After composing himself, he continued: "But, yeah, great. He's a good horse and he's got a great future, and he's got a great turn of foot."