Kosi is voted champion yet again, Latest Racing News - The New Paper
Racing

Kosi is voted champion yet again

Four gongs for Lim’s Kosciuszko, big night for Ong, Seow, Nunes and Lim’s Stable

Singapore’s dominant horse in the last three seasons was regarded as a no-brainer to get the Singapore Horse of the Year nod two years in a row after the first one in 2022.

When master of ceremony Scott Bailey called his name, the 200 guests at the Singapore Turf Club’s Derby Room at Kranji rose as one to give him a standing ovation.

Amid the wild cheers, Lim’s Stable’s main owner Lim Siah Mong relived that magical moment as he received the trophy from STC chairman Niam Chiang Meng.

He was soon joined on stage by trainer Daniel Meagher, his young family, and all his entourage. While it may have felt like deja vu, emotions still ran high, if not higher.

“Thank you to Mr Lim for buying horses like Lim’s Lightning (2021 champion) and now Lim’s Kosciuszko. We’re lucky to train them,” said the Australian trainer.

“It’s a massive team effort. I don’t know if we’ll get one like him again.

“With Lightning, we thought we’d not get another Lightning. But we got Kosi, and Caiden just said Lim’s Saltoro.”

Caiden is Meagher’s son who, on stage, whispered to his father about the winner of six from seven.

But with racing closing down on Oct 5, he is unlikely to be the heir apparent, more so when Lim’s Kosciuszko is still running rings around his rivals in 2024.

The son of Kermadec would have ended 2023 with a perfect seven-from-seven, if not for Hongkong Great’s daring catch-me-if-you-can tactics in the 2023 Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (1,800m).

The roll of honour kicks off with the Group 3 Merlion Trophy (1,200m) in February, followed by five Group 1s – Raffles Cup, Kranji Mile, Lion City Cup, another Raffles Cup, and arguably his bravest win in the Singapore Gold Cup.

Marc Lerner rode him for the first time that day, taking over from Wong Chin Chuen (who was aboard at the other Group successes) and is, to this day, his regular partner.

Besides the QEII Cup blip, the six-year-old’s other blemish was his defeat at his only overseas raid, in the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin in December.

Given the wide range of trips to his feature wins, from the 1,200m of the Lion City Cup to the 2,000m of the Singapore Gold Cup, through the 1,600m of the Kranji Mile and Raffles Cup, he also swept all three distance categories – champion sprinter, miler and stayer.

Though he was eligible for the Polytrack award through his Merlion Trophy win, that one run on the all-weather was insufficient to knock off Pacific Emperor. Four Polytrack wins, including a Merlion Trophy (two were held that year) swung it for the David Kok-trained galloper.

The only awards Lim’s Kosciuszko did not qualify for were the two age groups – three and four.

Now racing in Sydney, Coin Toss won the champion three-year-old title for claiming two Group 2 legs of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge, the Singapore Three-Year-Old Classic (1,400m) and Singapore Guineas (1,600m).

After landing two of three legs of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge – the Group 2 Stewards’ Cup (1,600m) and Group 1 Singapore Derby (1,800m) – Golden Monkey was also the clear choice.

Besides the horses, their human counterparts were also honoured, except that their identities were already known since December.

While Manoel Nunes is an old hand at such gongs, lifting his fifth Singapore champion jockey crown on 95 winners, and Lim’s Stable is already a multiple champion owner, trainer Jason Ong and apprentice jockey Jerlyn Seow were lapping up their first titles.

Ong, who only got his trainer’s licence in 2019, was long locked in a close battle with 2022 champion Tim Fitzsimmons, but gained the ascendancy towards the last two months or so to unseat the Australian by 10 winners (66 versus 56).

The 36-year-old was still pinching himself when he thought of his early days mucking out stables at Marcus Oldham School in Geelong.

“It’s something I’ve dreamed of, but I knew it wasn’t easy, and the key was to keep improving myself every year,” said Ong.

“When I first went to Marcus Oldham, I didn’t know how to put a head collar on a horse. Peter Moody (best known for training champion mare Black Caviar to an undefeated record of 25 wins) once told me the best way to learn is to start riding horses. So I did that and rode trackwork. It’s been a long and hard journey. There were times I wanted to give up, trainers in Australia are very strict.

“But, at the end of the day, they just want to help the next generation in the horse racing industry. I truly enjoyed the process because every day, I learnt about horses.

“I owe my success to all these owners who have supported me from Day 1. But the one person I’d like to dedicate this title to is my dad. Without him, I wouldn’t be so passionate about horse racing.”

On 14 winners, Seow was not as prolific as Ong, who is also her master, but it was enough to etch her name in the annals of Singapore horse racing as its first female champion apprentice jockey.

“I can’t believe I became champion and made history,” she said.

“It’s so special to have my family here to witness this moment. They first thought I was just fooling around when I became a jockey as I’m the youngest of three siblings but, tonight, I did them proud.”

As for Wong, he was picking up his second consecutive champion resident jockey award in absentia. The Malaysian, who finished third overall on 44 winners, is plying his trade with success in South Korea.

manyan@sph.com.sg

2023 Singapore Racing Awards Honour Roll

CHAMPION APPRENTICE JOCKEY

Jerlyn Seow

CHAMPION RESIDENT JOCKEY

Wong Chin Chuen

CHAMPION JOCKEY

Manoel Nunes

CHAMPION TRAINER

Jason Ong

CHAMPION OWNER

Lim’s Stable

CHAMPION THREE-YEAR-OLD

Coin Toss

CHAMPION FOUR-YEAR-OLD

Golden Monkey

CHAMPION POLYTRACK HORSE

Pacific Emperor

CHAMPION SPRINTER

Lim’s Kosciuszko

CHAMPION MILER

Lim’s Kosciuszko

CHAMPION STAYER

Lim’s Kosciuszko

HORSE OF THE YEAR

Lim’s Kosciuszko

 

HORSE RACING