An underaged Jason Lim could not go to the old Bukit Timah racecourse in his early teens, but he would ditch his school textbooks for his father’s racebooks and TV replays of his favourite sport every week – and one stable that stood out was the Ontop Stable.
Not that it was “on top” as they did not really have champions, but the yellow, green and red silks were ubiquitous, even after Singapore racing moved to Kranji in 1999.
In those days, the local outfit raced horses – many with the word “Pacific” – with Bernard Ang and stayed loyal to the former President of the Association of Racehorse Trainers Singapore (Arts) until his retirement in 2004.
Now a trainer himself since 2019, Lim said it feels “surreal” every time old stager Super Six wins in the popular colours.
The 40-year-old Singaporean was pinching himself again on Saturday when the Kaphero 11-year-old brought up his 11th win in the $30,000 Class 5 race over the Polytrack 1,100m – his third for Lim.
“When I was 14-15 watching races, the Ontop Stable already existed and was one of the familiar names around,” said Lim.
“To train a winner for them right now, some 25 years later, I don’t know how to put that in words. It feels surreal, even if Super Six has already won three races for me.
“Joel Tan is the one who owns the stable now, and he races Super Six in partnership with Trent Turner, a golf coach based here.
“They are very patient owners and I’m happy Super Six has won again for them.”
Lim was also thrilled the veteran of 106 starts was still going around “like a three-year-old”.
Beginning his racing career in 2013 with trainer David Kok, Super Six has changed hands three times, having been subsequently transferred to Sam Chua and Leticia Dragon. He produced his best with six wins for Dragon, even contesting a Kranji Stakes A race in which he lost no marks.
When he joined Lim and Ontop in 2019, Super Six was already nine, usually not the kind of recruit to send the excitement levels soaring. But, without being a world- beater, he has proven to be an ageless wonder for his new connections.
“He’s been really fantastic to the owners and myself. He’s the oldest winner I’ve trained. When Cool Cat won at 12, he was still under David Hill’s name,” said Lim.
“I think the reason behind Super Six’s longevity is because he’s so sound. Touch wood, as we never know with horses, but he’s never been to the vet since he arrived, his legs are like those of a new horse.
“At the stables, he’s just like a pony and is everybody’s stable pet. You don’t even notice him at all as he’s so quiet, but on the tracks, he works like a three-year-old.”
Super Six sure sprang the gates like one under a hard-riding John Sundradas to lead on Saturday, no doubt helped by barrier one.
But the old boy still had to bring his A game to give his younger rivals a galloping lesson – with Lim as the schoolteacher orchestrating the win.
“When the handicaps came out on Wednesday, I looked through the field and I noticed there wasn’t a lot of speed,” said Lim.
“As he drew barrier one I told John we cannot sit behind to win the race, he had to go forward.
“I was screaming at the TV inside the last 200m. Luckily, he kept hanging on in the last 50m under John’s urgings.
“Credit to John, who didn’t go for the whip right away. He waited and waited, it was a well-timed ride.”
Speaking of time, Lim knows all too well horses have a shelf life and, as true as the saying ‘you’re only as good as your last win’ is, Super Six has only a “short runway” left.
Lim has not only post-race life covered, but has already thought of ways to keep the owners “on top” of things.
“I’ll keep him going until he tells me he’s done. I send my retired horses to Johor Baru, and as he’s such a placid horse, kids will love riding him on the beach,” he said.
“I’m having dinner with Joel and Trent to celebrate the win this Saturday. I’ll then force them to buy another horse.”