Freedman unsheaths Lim's Samurai onto Gold Cup trail

Singapore Gold Cup hopeful Lim’s Samurai makes his racing comeback in the $125,000 Racing Guide Classic (1400m) this Sunday.

The Japanese-bred four-year-old has not reappeared since his meritorious second in the Group 1 Emirates Singapore Derby (2000m) under visiting Perth champion rider William Pike on July 9, when he was then prepared by just-retired trainer Laurie Laxon.

The son of Samurai Heart didn’t go amiss. The yard just felt he could use a well-earned break, with the Dester Singapore Gold Cup (2200m) on November 12 long pencilled in as his main goal this year.

Lim's Samurai (on the outside) was one of Laurie Laxon's better performers this season, picture Singapore Turf Club

Trainer Lee Freedman, who has now taken over his training, has also locked in the Group 1 Raffles Cup (1800m), the second Leg of the Singapore Triple Crown series of which the Gold Cup is the third and final Leg, as a prelude to the Gold Cup.

The first Leg, the Group 1 Panasonic Kranji Mile (1600m) was run and won by Infantry last Sunday, but Lim’s Samurai was always meant to skip the kick-off.

“Lim’s Samurai has really enjoyed his break. He went for two barrier trials and went nice,” said Freedman.

“He needed a couple of trials to tune him up as he hasn’t raced since the Derby. He’s had a light campaign, and I think the 1400m first-up will be ideal.

“He will run in that race and then go on to the Raffles Cup and the Gold Cup. Glen Boss rode him at his last barrier trial and was happy with him.”

Freedman also saddles Affleck in the Racing Guide Classic. The 2015 Singapore Guineas winner has not won for over a year now, with his latest outing resulting in a disappointing second-last place to Countofmontecristo in the Group 3 Jumbo Jet Trophy (1400m) on September 10.

The Oscar Racing-owned stalwart is admittedly not racing at his best, but the yard is not losing hope the Battle Paint six-year-old can turn his fortunes around.

“Affleck is just taking a while to get fit. He had a long break after his cancer in the hind left,” said Freedman’s assistant-trainer Shane Ellis.

“Just like Lim’s Samurai, his trackwork has been good. They worked together yesterday, and went straight into it.

“Both Bossy and Alan Munro (Affleck) were happy with the piece of work from their horses.”

Freedman has up to now only one winner to his credit, Mr Clint, in a Restricted Maiden race over 1200m on September 10. Three weeks later, the Power three-year-old unsurprisingly drew many admirers, but he stayed a little one-paced in the end, running fifth to Moment Of Justice.

But the Australian Hall of Fame trainer was well prepared for such an eventuality, even if he was inheriting 90% of Laxon’s yard.

“Laurie has won one or two too many and the horses were all up to their mark when I took over. It was tough to get a win from them,” said Freedman half-jokingly.

“I have just got rid of six horses who will go to Malaysia. I have four new horses who are on the way.

“I knew the first three months would be a look-see period, but I’m sure things will improve soon.”