Trainer Daniel Meagher’s explanation for the favourite Lim’s Kosciuszko’s crushing Kranji Mile defeat may sound like an oxymoron to some – he did not have youth on his side.
The young Australian may have trained for only six years, but coming from a blue-blooded lineage of horsemen, and more significantly, having four Group 1 silverware already on his curriculum vitae, he does know his onions.
In this case, he meant that the Kermadec four-year-old was a little out of his depth, when pitted against the cream of the Singapore’s milers in an International Group 3 event at level weights.
Granted, the bubble had already burst in his win No. 9 bid.
But it was anything but a fall from grace. He fought bravely before finding one better in Gold Star.
Hence, he still had many admirers in the Kranji Mile.
Jockey Danny Beasley was cuddling him as he slid alongside leader Fame Star in the home straight, but stunningly, they hit a brick wall.
Usually poetry in motion at that stage, Lim’s Kosciuszko was flat as a pancake and quickly disappeared to finish among the also-rans.
It must have been a painful watch for Meagher, even if stablemate Lim’s Lightning partly helped erase that sorry sight. But it did drive home the message that class is not earned overnight.
Hence, the statement he was still a baby up against the big boys, something even Meagher probably chose to ignore that day.
“He took on older tougher horses, but he was not seasoned enough,” he said.
“We got it a bit wrong through inexperience.
“He’s basically a 1,200m horse, and over 1,600m, he has to get it 100 per cent right.
“But it was hard to get it right. Danny didn’t hurt him after he knew he was beaten.”
The Australian jockey told Meagher the way the race panned out did not suit either.
“Danny would have liked to have had the same run as Lim’s Lightning, behind the leader. The horse was too keen,” said Meagher.
“If he had swopped barriers with Lim’s Lightning, he would have got a run behind the leader and would have run better.
“At the end of the day, it will be a better race for him next year.”
Meagher is lowering his aim towards a feature race that was more within his shooting range – the $150,000 Group 2 Stewards’ Cup over 1,600m the following Sunday.
“In his own age group, it’ll be a different story,” he said.
“Tiger Roar is the second-highest rated horse in the race and has to be respected.
“But you also have to respect everyone else. They have all been trained for this.”
Meagher is certainly leaving no stone unturned with his own prep.
He put Lim’s Kosciuszko through a cosy enough breeze-up at the barrier trials yesterday. Ridden by Wong Chin Chuen, the gelding just nosed out Karisto for only his second win in 15 barrier trials.
Australian Hall of Famer and former Kranji trainer John Meagher’s youngest son was, however, more interested in the means than the end.
“He’s going to have 35 days between runs. He had to have a competitive trial, but without too much extension,” he said.
“He didn’t go hard, he went well in CC’s hands. He pulled up after he went around the barriers.
“CC was happy with the trial. There was not much speed, he didn’t do much work and ran within his own steam.
“He’s a good doing horse and is running a mile next week. I didn’t want him to go too fast.”
Meagher will wait on the Stewards’ Cup run before daring to dream about the race that eluded even his father – the Group 1 Singapore Derby (1,800m) on July 17.
“We’ll see how he gets through this run. If he goes well, then we’ll look at the Derby, even if there are question marks on his first time over the distance,” he said.
“Or else, we’ll give him a freshen-up and go for the Lion City Cup.”