Golden Monkey Gets His Revenge

At Kranji on Sunday - Kranji Stakes A

Connections got what they wished for after Golden Monkey exacted revenge on favourite Ghalib in a true run race on Sunday at Kranji.

The SG$100,000 Kranji Stakes A race was long billed as a two-horse battle between Golden Monkey and Ghalib after the pair ran in a similar race three weeks ago over seven furlongs, where Ghalib held off the fast-finishing Golden Monkey to score in a small field of four.

Golden Monkey (Ryan Curatolo) sprints past Ghalib (Manoel Nunes) to claim the Kranji Stakes A race (Pic - STC)

Golden Monkey (Ryan Curatolo) sprints past Ghalib (Manoel Nunes) to claim the Kranji Stakes A race (Pic – STC)

A tactical but slow run race on the Short Course had the Tim Fitzsimmons-trained gelding chasing shadows even if he made up stacks of ground in the final furlong. This time, in a bid to turn the fortunes around, connections had a slightly different game plan.

Instead of putting the son of Star Turn to sleep in the field of six, jockey Ryan Curatolo sat him closer in mid-field following a fair jump from barrier two while Sky Eye (Bruno Queiroz) led with Ghalib (Manoel Nunes) taking a sit behind him in second.

Ghalib, who was seen pulling quite hard in the back-straight and at the bends, still showed his sprinting prowess under Nunes’ urgings at the 400m and raced past the leader in no time. But second favourite Golden Monkey, who had been trailing behind Ghalib, will not let victory slip past a second time.

Under a strong and determined ride from Curatolo, the 2023 Gr1 Singapore Derby winner burst onto the scene late at the 300m before storming past Ghalib at the 100m to win by half a length at the post.

While it was a “reversal of role” for the top two, honest galloper So Hi Class (Koh Teck Huat) finished third again this time, albeit another one-and-a-half lengths away. The winning time was 1 min 10.23secs for the 1200m on the Long Course.

Fitzsimmons would not deny his anxiousness after the race, not only because history could repeat itself, but every win from the Jig Racing/Elvin Stable-owned gelding meant a lot to him and the connections.

“I was a bit nervous today after what happened at his last start, but at least the race was run more genuinely and we had our chance at them,” said the Australian handler, who now sits third on the trainers’ log on 28 wins after Gold Governor also took out the SG$50,000 Class 4 penultimate race over 1400m.

“Golden Monkey is going really well and he’s got a lot of things ahead of him.

“He’s the only horse in my stable that makes me nervous because he means so much to me.

“After running in two Open Maiden races and a Novice race, he was always in Group races and Class 1 (equivalent) races. He never went through his grades but he never ran a bad race and always tries his best.

“Part-owner and principal of Jig Bloodstock, Josh McLoughlan is such a good supporter and he’s always got my back even if things went wrong. Jig Racing/Elvin Stable are such a great bunch of owners.

“That was a prefect ride from Ryan too.”

Bar the Singapore Derby which Golden Monkey won last year as a four-year-old, Fitzsimmons had earlier revealed the five-year-old chestnut will take aim at the remaining four feature races left on Singapore’s racing calendar, which are the Gr1 Lion City Cup on 28 July, the Gr1 Raffles Cup on 11 August, the Gr1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup on 7 September and the Gr1 Grand Singapore Gold Cup on 5 October.

While news was out a month ago that visiting jockey Chad Schofield will be back to ride Golden Monkey at his four upcoming Group assignments, Fitzsimmons also said the versatile galloper’s stab at glory in the SG$1.38m time-honoured race at the final meeting will have to depend on his run in the QEII Cup.

“We know he’ll get the 1800m because he won the Derby, but we’ll make a decision on the Singapore Gold Cup after QEII Cup,” said Fitzsimmons.

French jockey Curatolo, who bagged a back-to-back double on Sunday courtesy of Big Day who took out the SG$30,000 Class 5 Division 2 race one race earlier, was glad the fast pace worked in their favour.

“What made a difference today was the faster pace,” said Curatolo, who is booked by Fitzsimmons to ride Greatham Boy in the Lion City Cup.

“They went a bit faster and I was able to find myself just behind Ghalib and tracked him all the way.

“We’re on the Long Course and when my horse got to Ghalib, we just had to maintain it. Golden Monkey has a big heart.

“I knew him from his last start. I felt like I didn’t know him enough because that was the first time I rode him in the races besides trackwork in the mornings.

“They’re both nice horses but this time, I knew what I had in the tank.”

With eight wins and 11 placings from 23 starts, Golden Monkey has now amassed over SG$950,000 in prizemoney for connections.

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