By Jon Lees
Singapore will have its first runner at Royal Ascot after connections of leading sprinter Lim’s Cruiser gave the go-ahead for an ambitious assault on the Diamond Jubilee Stakes next month.
The sprinter’s Kiwi trainer Stephen Gray had hoped to be travelling on the back of a third successive victory in the Lion City Cup at Kranji last weekend, but was given reason to hesitate when he went down by a neck to Aramco in the Singapore Group One.
Nevertheless, with the six-year-old gelding suffering no ill-effects and encouragement from Mick Dittman – one of Australia’s outstanding jockeys of the last century who manages the string of owner Lim Siah Mong – the horse will travel to Britain on Saturday.
Gray said: “The decision is made and we are coming. We were a little bit down and out when he got beat the other day, but I can’t see anything wrong with him and he has probably come through this race better.
“He might as well have a go because if things go his way, he can gallop.
“Mick was probably more forcible about coming. He said he’s ridden many champions and many good horses that get beat and go out and win their next start.”
Gray has trained approaching 800 winners in Singapore and captured nearly every big race there. He has been to Ascot before, saddling Emperor Max to finish seventh in the 2015 Qipco British Champions Sprint won by Muhaarar.
Lim’s Cruiser is an 11-times winner who has bagged more than £1 million in prize-money.
“I think Lim’s Cruiser probably is a bit better than Emperor Max, but that horse had a bleeding issue. That day at Ascot he would have run third or fourth, but he bled internally,” said Gray.
“Lim’s Cruiser had a very hard race, too hard a race, three weeks before the Lion City Cup. We have to take the races as they come, we can’t wait because there are limited opportunities to run for big money. I think he was a bit over the top from that first hard run.
“He can go to England, which is only 12 hours on a plane, and if it doesn’t work out, he can come home or stay for the July Cup and Lennox Stakes.
“There is nothing round here for him until September and October. Emperor Max thrived over there because of the fresh air and sun on his back. He came home quite a good horse and won another couple of big races.
“I’ve always wanted a horse that could travel to Royal Ascot. We fully understand it’s very hard to go there and beat those horses. However, plenty have before. He’s a damn good horse and we want to have a crack at it.
“We’re not coming there just to wear top hats and meet the Queen.”