Rising Star Lim’s Saltoro Finds The Gap

Sunday @ Kranji

Any queries about Lim’s Saltoro seeing out a strong mile were squashed with some conviction on Sunday after the Daniel Meagher-trained rising star bulldogged his way to victory in the SG$150,000 Gr2 Stewards’ Cup at Kranji.

Lim's Saltoro (Marc Lerner) fends off Bestseller (Vlad Duric) and Makin (Manoel Nunes, No 4) strongly before saluting in the Group 2 Stewards' Cup

Lim’s Saltoro (Marc Lerner) fends off Bestseller (Vlad Duric) and Makin (Manoel Nunes – #4) strongly before saluting in the Gr2 Stewards’ Cup (Pic – STC)

That win could mean a clean sweep of the three four-year-old Group races is well and truly on the cards for the son of Shamexpress, with the Gr3 Silver Bowl already in his keep and the Gr1 Singapore Derby three weeks later seemingly at his mercy.

However, the win on Sunday did not come easy as jockey Marc Lerner had to earn every penny of his riding fee with not only a patient ride, but also a strong one with plenty of argy-bargy late in the Stewards’ Cup.

Upon jumping, things went to plan for most of the fancies as favourite Lim’s Saltoro used gate one to his advantage to sit behind the expected pacemaker, Aniki (Ruan Maia).

While Lim’s Saltoro’s stablemate, January (Ryan Curatolo), pushed forward to race on the leader’s flank, Bestseller (Vlad Duric) sat in a one-one position and second favourite Makin (Manoel Nunes) was also in a plum position to his inside.

When things got serious upon turning for home, Bestseller made his move three wide but in the course of his action, left barely enough room for Lim’s Saltoro, who was sandwiched between the battling January on his outside and the tiring Aniki, to make his run at the 400m.

With Lerner showing little French flair but plenty of good old-fashioned grunt, Lim’s Saltoro bullied himself clear and a three-horse battle to the wire ensued as Makin chimed in with Bestseller at the 300m.

It was still anyone’s guess at the furlong post but when the whips got cracking late, it was Lim’s Saltoro who prevailed by a short head over Bestseller while Makin ran another half-a-length back in third.

Lightning Strike (Chad Schofield) and Hole In One (Bernardo Pinheiro), both likely Singapore Derby prospects, also ran on well to finish another three parts of a length and neck away in fourth and fifth respectively.

The winning time was 1 min 35.03secs for the 1600m on the Long Course on the yielding ground.

The winning trio - (from left) jockey Marc Lerner, owner Mr Lim Siah Mong and trainer Daniel Meagher

The winning trio – (from left) jockey Marc Lerner, owner Mr Lim Siah Mong and trainer Daniel Meagher (Pic – STC)

Meagher was convinced Singapore Derby will be Lim’s Saltoro’s next assignment after he showed his sheer will to win over the mile on Sunday, which was a trait another champion galloper of his, Lim’s Kosciuszko, have.

“He’s a good horse, isn’t he?” said an understated Meagher to racing presenter Ethan Mills after the race.

“I spoke to Danny (ex-Kranji jockey Danny Beasley) just then and said Lim’s Saltoro does things that other horses don’t do. They just win.

“He had to fight through that gap, and he did. He was going to the line as good as anything, so onwards and upwards with the Singapore Derby.

“Lim’s Saltoro and Lim’s Kosciuszko are just winners, that’s their most similar trait, but they’re two different-sized horses.

“We try to put them in our system to make them bombproof if that’s possible and the good one’s come through. He’s just a very good horse.”

The Australian conditioner was succinct when queried about any concerns over the 1800m trip in the Singapore Derby for Lim’s Saltoro.

“No,” he replied.

Lerner, who was fast becoming used to Group success at Kranji, took nothing for granted.

“I wished there could be many more prize presentations,” said the French rider.

“I’m very happy today. He was the best horse in the race, but I think many people got scared at the 400m.

“We took the risk of having some issue in the run, not to lose, but to teach him the proper way to the Singapore Derby and at least we know he will be very strong to the line, over 1800m, and it gave us more confidence.

“To be fair, I had all the right to be beaten. Vlad did well when he came in to pocket us and he had the run on us. I was sure we would finish short and I don’t know how Lim’s Saltoro just picked up.

“Between Lim’s Saltoro and Lim’s Kosciuszko, they just have the will to win.”

With eight wins and one second from nine starts, Lim’s Saltoro has taken his prizemoney to over SG$350,000 for the Lim’s Stable.

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