Lim’s Cruiser wins second Lion City Cup
Michael Lee
Class prevailed in the $1 million Group 1 Lion City Cup (1200m) with last year’s winner Lim’s Cruiser making it back-to-back in devastating style on Saturday. Interestingly, the reigning Singapore champion sprinter had not won since that glorious victory in the third Leg of the Singapore Sprint Series in April last year, when then partnered by Danny Beasley.

Trainer Stephen Gray had tested the son of Casino Prince over more ground in marquee races such as the Group 1 Emirates Singapore Derby (2000m) and the Group 1 Raffles Cup (1800m), and though he did not lose any friends, that electric turn of foot that was so lethal a season ago seemed to have been slightly on the wane. 

But how it rose back to prominence in the race that mattered, at the same time vindicating Gray’s decision to stick to sprints versus the other enticing option of running the Lim’s Stable champion in the highlight of the night, the $1.5 million Invitational Group 1 Kranji Mile (1600m).

Snagged back to a rearward spot from his wide alley, Lim’s Cruiser ($27) eventually drove through a gap to settle on the rails after only 200m, a nifty piece of riding from jockey Glen Boss which would prove its weight of gold in the final analysis.

Upfront, noted frontrunner Zac Kasa (Craig Grylls) was flying as expected like last month’s pay, but surprisingly found another wind upon straightening when most thought he would be gone once his bunny role was done.

A quick scan through the backmarkers did not reveal anyone really making ground, though. Rafaello (Karis Teetan) was in the mix but was not cutting much ice while favourite Countofmontecristo (Alysha Collett) probably looked the most likely to peg Zac Kasa back should he falter.

But the complexion of the race changed dramatically when Lim’s Cruiser, who had in the meantime ducked and weaved between runners, shot through between Mr Fantasic (Barend Vorster) and Rafaello like they were tacked to the ground.

That sizzling trademark acceleration was clearly back as Kranji watched in awe Gray’s pocket dynamo storm home at the rate of knots. Zac Kasa’s seconds in the lead were numbered – in a few bounds, Lim’s Cruiser swept past on his way to a most impressive 1 ½-length win.

Renowned for his flamboyance on past big-race winners (notably his high-standing act in the irons aboard Risky Business in the Singapore Gold Cup in 2010), Boss could not help himself as he punched the air in delight upon crossing the line.

Countofmontecristo was beaten fair and square but did well to stick on for third place another 2 ¾ lengths away. The winning time was 1min 9.39secs for the 1200m on the Short Course.

“He’s a very good horse and we’ve worked for this race all along. I always knew he’d bounce back and what better race than this to do that,” said Gray.

“The boys have worked hard, Mike Shaw, Nick Selvan, my wife Bridget, and I thank them – and Glen Boss, he’s just the best.

“There was a bit of a mix-up about who would ride Lim’s Cruiser, but we’ve stuck with Glen and it’s just great we’ve won.

“We were a bit down when the horse drew 13, but Glen rode him a treat finding the fence early and that set them up for the run home.”

Boss said his confidence grew exponentially when he was able to slot Lim’s Cruiser into that ground-saving run early doors.

“He was awkward early and it took a while to wrestle him back and we then ducked back to the fence,” said the top Australian jockey.

“I’ve been so unlucky at the draws. I was so confident all week, but I again got another bad draw, but I was glad I was able to get a good posie this time.

“He was going that well that I knew he would be hard to beat once he sprints through. He is the best sprinter and his preparation has been faultless.

“Steve rang me earlier and told me to back the horse and back myself – and it’s as simple as that.”

With that seventh win, Lim’s Cruiser has now amassed prizemoney in excess of $1.6 million for the Lim’s Stable.