Monkey is all go in EW Barker

After a luckless run at his last feature race, Golden Monkey should be better suited by the $150,000 Group 2 EW Barker Trophy (1,400m) on April 21.

The 2023 Singapore Derby winner could offer traffic excuses for his fourth place in the Group 3 Committee’s Prize (1,600m) on March 9, when he was also the worst off at the handicaps.

Carrying the top impost of 58.5kg, he gave weight all round, including the winner Bestseller (50kg) and placegetters Street Of Dreams (53.5kg) and Invincible Tycoon (54.5kg), but still ran less than one length off in fourth.

He clashes with that trio again in the EW Barker Trophy. With only 52.5kg against their minimum weights of 50kg in the handicap feature, he has a good chance of turning the tables on them.

Even if that advantage is shaved off by the Star Turn five-year-old’s fly-in rider Chad Schofield’s build.

“Golden Monkey’s got a lighter handicap (52.5kg) compared to last time (58.5kg),” he said.

“But Chad will ride him 2kg over, though. At 54.5kg, he’s still better off at the weights this time.

“Things did not go his way in the Committee’s Prize, but he still ran fourth. The horses who beat him will be worse off at the weights this time, but I still respect them.”

Fitzsimmons knows all his horse’s regular rivals, including undisputed champion Lim’s Kosciuszko. But, his stablemate adds further intrigue to the plot, the unbeaten Lim’s Saltoro (five-from-five).

“He’s a nice horse. It’ll be a big test for him, but we all know (trainer) Dan (Meagher) can make such horses win at that level,” he said.

Golden Monkey has also drawn marble one, but the 2022 Singapore champion trainer is paying a greater importance to race fitness.

He is happy with the level his seven-time winner is at, coming to his fourth assignment this prep, which included the Group 3 Fortune Bowl (1,400m) win with Schofield up on Feb 11.

“Golden Monkey is in a good place. He has trained on since his last start,” he said.

“He trialled good last week (April 11). I’m very happy with him.

“He’s drawn one, which is good, but he is a get-back type. He should be able to get a cosy run, but he’ll still need luck in a big field.”

Golden Monkey will also need a lot of it against Lim’s Kosciuszko.

Not even his 59kg load can seemingly knock the seven-time Group 1 winner off his hunt for a 19th win.

“The horse to beat is Lim’s Kosciuszko as he’s proven he can carry weights,” said Fitzsimmons.

“But the EW Barker Trophy has over time been a race won by horses who get in at a light weight. Mister Yeoh won with 50kg in 2018.”

Mister Yeoh, who was trained by Fitzsimmons’ ex-boss Cliff Brown, is one of many lightweights to have won the race named after the Singapore Turf Club’s former chairman and Minister for Law.

Since its introduction in 2002, the race was won only once by a horse carrying in excess of 58kg, World Airlines (58.5kg) in 2007.

Regardless, Golden Monkey’s main aim is still the $1 million Group 1 Kranji Mile (1,600m) on May 18, even at set weights.

“The EW Barker is a nice race to pick up on the way through,” said Fitzsimmons. “But the Kranji Mile is his grand final.”

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