It's all working out for Jason
The top local trainer hopes the good trot will continue next year with some new horses
Jason Ong is one happy man. At the ripe “young” age of 33, he is living his dream.
Not only is he doing what he loves best – which is working with horses – but he is also making a profession out of it.
He also recently became a father for the third time. His 35-year-old wife, Liwen, gave birth to a baby girl on Nov 15. Her name is Leia and Ong is a proud father. He has two sons – Jarod, five, and Owen, three.
But, even with that third child “in the barn”, so to speak, Ong does not take anything for granted. Like saddling 26 winners in the recent 2021 season.
Sure, plenty of hard work and sweat went into making those last 11 months so eventful. But Ong believes a bit of luck helped him along the way. “I couldn’t have asked or imagined a better result,” he said, referring to his 2021 haul.
After all, it was an improvement on the 18 winners he picked up last year, which was his first full season as a trainer.
Incidentally, his score this year made him the top of 12 local trainers. But he is over that. Indeed, Ong is looking at the new season with eyes wide open.
“I have got 30 horses in my yard and some of them are unraced,” he said. “They are coming along and I have confidence in them.”
Ong had opened the door and I jumped in with a question. Did he secretly wish that one of those new ones in the barn turns out to be another War Affair?
You see, Ong has a long history with the champion racehorse. His father, Ong Boon Hin, was the mainstay of the Warplan Racing Stable which raced War Affair.
As senior track rider with Mark Walker in 2013, he did track work on the galloper. And, when War Affair moved over to Alwin Tan, so did Ong. Then, in 2016, the “couple” joined Bruce Marsh.
“Which trainer does not dream of having a champion in his stable? I do, too. But that is wishful thinking, ” he replied.
“I will be more than happy if my current lot of horses step out and win races. I will admit, it is not easy being a trainer. It takes a lot out of a person.
“But there is a bright side and, for me, one the best things in this job is seeing the smile on an owner’s face when his horse – the one I prepared – wins a race. It is priceless.
“In the short while that I have been in this line, I have had the pleasure of training some fine horses for some really fine people and that alone makes up for the sweat and disappointments.”
While Ong got his trainer’s licence only in September 2019, he has been “on the job” and involved in the sport since 2011.
That was when he travelled to Australia to take up a course in Horse Business Management.
That done, he stayed Down Under and worked as a track rider for Melbourne trainers Peter Moody and John Sadler.
“I still keep in touch with them,” he said. “If I have things to ask, I know they will listen.
“Along those same lines, I must thank Lee Freedman for always being there to answer my questions. When he was here at Kranji, I was always picking his brains.
“I asked him about the job and he gave me the honest truth. I could ask him anything and I used to go back and pore over his answers and put them to practical use. I learnt a lot from that great man.
“I learnt a great deal from other trainers as well. Take Walker. He always ran a big operation but he also had a working system in place. From him, I learnt the importance of having good organisation.
“Alwin Tan had a smaller yard and a different system. We talked. I took meticulous notes and put it into practice.
“Marsh, he was the true traditional horseman. When I was his assistant, he gave me free rein to find my way around a stable.”
Well, Ong certainly learnt the ropes from some of the best. Now is the time to put all that knowledge to good use.
However, he was modest about his achievements in his second year as a trainer and admitted that he still had a lot to learn.
“Of course, I am looking forward to the new season,” he said.
“I have the horses in the yard prepared for it. I cannot wish for anything more.
“But, if someone granted me some New Year wishes, one of them would be that I can continue to put the smiles on the faces of my owners.
“And, hopefully, we can be transported back to the good old pre-Covid days.
“I miss the electrifying race-day atmosphere, the cheers, the back slapping. I wish we could have the crowds packing the grandstand.”
Well, Ong certainly echoed all of our thoughts. We hope his wishes come true.
Ong’s gradual ascent at Kranji:
26 wins 306 runners 8.5%
Finished 8th/25 trainers
18 wins 262 runners 6.87%
7 wins 94 runners 7.45%
Finished 27th/30. Made winning debut with Hosayliao on Sept 20