After claiming the Group 1 Singapore Derby (1800m) and the Group 1 Lion City Cup (1200m) last year, Lim's Kosciuszko added another Group win to his resume with an emphatic victory in the Group 3 Merlion Trophy (1200m) on February 4 first-up.
While confidence levels in the Lim's Kosciuszko camp were generally high, trainer Daniel Meagher tended to go into the race with cautious optimism, while keeping in mind his main target down the road.
"Sure he can win, but he's not fully screwed down for this," explained Meagher on Tuesday.
"The Raffles Cup is a Group 1 (race) and he will show his best but the (Group 1) Kranji Mile (on May 20) is his grand final, so we have to leave some in the tank.
"You can't go to the well every time, so we really have to plan for peaks throughout the year."
It is a smart strategy by the young Australian conditioner but given Lim's Kosciuszko's dominant win in the Merlion Trophy and a nice barrier trial last Thursday, he remains the horse to beat.
"I was really happy with his Merlion (Trophy) win but let's be honest, he is the best horse over 1200m," continued Meagher.
"So the mile is a different kettle of fish. I told (jockey) Jimmy (Wong Chin Chuen) to give him a very quiet trial last week (finished sixth behind Minister in trial no. 3) and I was really happy with how he (Lim's Kosciuszko) went.
"Jimmy could have squeezed him anytime, but he (Lim's Kosciuszko) did it easy and that suggests to me that he has matured as a horse – his demeanor has changed - and he should give Jimmy a good ride over the mile on Saturday.
"He has been beaten twice over the mile at Group level (finished 10th behind Lim's Lightning in the Kranji Mile and second behind Relentless in the Stewards' Cup last year) but again, I think he is a more mature horse this year.
"He took on the best horses for the first time in the Kranji Mile then and though it was disappointing, he benefitted from the experience. Relentless was in terrific form in the 4YO races so that form was good and we peaked for the Singapore Derby.
"He's by Kermadec – breeding is not an issue - and we have won over the mile (in a Kranji Stakes A race on March 26 last year), so no excuses in that regard.
"There is improvement in him. If he wins (the Raffles Cup), it's fantastic but I can tell you, he will be at his very best in the Kranji Mile."
Of his opposition on Saturday, Meagher thought that trainer Ricardo Le Grange's pair of Katak and Hongkong Great both command respect at the weight-for-age conditions and Mr Black Back is a horse to watch down in the ratings.
"Ricardo's two (horses) are in very good form and at the conditions, they look the obvious dangers," he said.
"But you have to remember that (trainer) Tim's (Fitzsimmons) horse (Mr Black Back) was favourite for the (Group 1) Singapore Gold Cup (2000m) only a couple of starts back.
"And he trialled fantastic (finished first in trial no. 4 on March 3 in 58.61secs), so we have to watch him for sure."
One horse missing from the Raffles Cup nominations was last year's Group 1 Kranji Mile winner – Lim's Lightning – but in good news for fans of the son of Lope De Vega, a return to racing is not far away.
"He's going great," said Meagher of the four-time Group 1 winner.
"Obviously he had his issues last year so we have taken our time with him; a gradual build-up.
"I'm not going to push him until he is 110%, so we might miss the Kranji Mile - it's going to be tight but watch out for him in the (Group 1) Lion City Cup (1200m) in August."
The Lion City Cup is the third leg of the new STC Super Sprint series and it will be run on August 27. The first two legs of the series are the Group 3 Kranji Sprint (1200m) and the Group 3 Rocket Man Sprint (1200m), which are held on June 3 and August 6 respectively.