Aushorse Golden Horseshoe

Elite Invincible looks a cut above

French jockey Ryan Curatolo steering the $12 favourite Lim's Lightning to beat $151 outsider Galvarino (No. 8) by a short head in the $325,000 Group 2 Aushorse Golden Horseshoe over 1,200m on turf at Kranji last night.
French jockey Ryan Curatolo steering the $12 favourite Lim's Lightning to beat $151 outsider Galvarino (No. 8) by a short head in the $325,000 Group 2 Aushorse Golden Horseshoe over 1,200m on turf at Kranji last night.ST PHOTO: SALWA SUANDI

Walker's classy 4YO is the favourite in tomorrow's Emirates Singapore Derby

In all likelihood, Singapore racing fans could see a triple crown champion in the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge tomorrow in the classy Elite Invincible.

After all, the Mark Walker-trained Irish-bred has been all-conquering in the first two legs of the series - the $500,000 Group2 Stewards' Cup (1,400m) and the $1 million Group 1 Giovanni Racing Charity Bowl (1,600m) - and winning the final leg of the series tomorrow could just be a formality.

This is not to say that the other 15 runners have no chance at all in the $1.15 million Group 1 Emirates Singapore Derby (1,800m) but Elite Invincible is in peak form -a tribute to his multiple-champion Walker's training prowess.

The Derby has always been the top agenda when the connections of Elite Performance Stable bought the horse, who raced successfully as Qatar Man in the United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates.

The horse was deemed good enough to compete in the Group 2 UAE Derby (1,900m), although he could only finish sixth behind Thunder Snow.

Walker and the bay gelding's owners have been having a lot of fun with their money-spinner and the Derby trip has always been deemed as the ideal distance for Elite Invincible.

Champion jockey Vlad Duric, who rode the horse to the Stewards' Cup and Charity Bowl victories, agreed that the 1,800m is right down his mount's alley.

At Thursday's Post Position Draw, where he drew gate 9, Duric said: "He's got good form from Dubai over more distance, so I don't think the trip is going to be any detriment at all."

What Duric is more concerned is the state of the track. He said Elite Invincible prefers good ground and will be praying for rain to stay away.

Elite Invincible won the first two legs of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge with inside draws, but Duric had said that gate 9 is "perfect" as he could follow the two probable leaders drawn on his inside, stablemate Lim's Regard and Nepean, to tuck into a nice spot.

If that works out, Duric should be able to relax and wait until the top of the straight, where the race will fire up in earnest. Known for his brilliant turn of foot, the much-vaunted favourite should knuckle down once more to attain triple crown status.

Stablemate Kingsman nearly caused a big upset in the Charity Bowl when he flew home to finish a short head second and is likely to pose as the main threat again. The extra 200m will suit Kingsman, for sure.

"He's definitely one of the horses to beat. He's in good form and should get a nice run as well. It's going to be a great race," said Duric.

Indeed, it will be.

Lim's Lightning strikes again with Group 2 win

Last-start second-up four-length winner Lim's Lightning won again last night after an exciting duel with a $151 outsider in the $325,000 Group 2 Aushorse Golden Horseshoe over 1,200m at Kranji.

The $12 favourite just beat the unfancied Galvarino by a short head in the final leg of the five-race Singapore Golden Horseshoe Series to give trainer Steven Burridge his third Aushorse Golden Horseshoe victory, after Pitstop in 2012 and Lim's Racer in 2016. Both Lim's Racer and last night's winner are owned by businessman Lim Siah Mong of the powerful Lim's Stable.

Ridden by jockey Ryan Curatolo, Lim's Lightning started well but another Lim's Stable runner, the Daniel Meagher-trained Lim's Dream, rocketed to a two-length lead from Galvarino, who nearly had to miss the feature race for two-year-olds when proving hard to be loaded into his barrier. Last-start winner Autumn Assault was next. Lim's Lightning was to his inside.

Galvarino overtook the tiring leader shortly after straightening but was quickly challenged by Lim's Lightning. In a ding-dong battle to the post, Lim's Lightning put his head down when it mattered most.

Curatolo paid tribute to his winner for his guts, tenacity and resilience.

"Definitely, I'm delighted. The horse is a real racehorse and, today, he proved it again, even though the last 200m he didn't finish as strong as last time because he was on the inside," said the Frenchman.

"I don't think he was comfortable on the inside. It wasn't an easy race today but he proved that he is something special."

Tan Thean Loon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 14, 2018, with the headline 'Elite Invincible looks a cut above'. Print Edition | Subscribe