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Paletas kicks off Lim’s new era

Pre-loved recent winner is first step towards reconstruction of trainer’s decimated yard

On July 9, Paletas gave freshly-licensed apprentice jockey Ibrahim Mamat a great start to his fledgling career at his fifth Kranji ride.

Barely a month later, Paletas will now give trainer Jason Lim a fresh new start at the dawn of his fifth Kranji season this Sunday.

A winning debut from the five-time winner (1,000m to 1,200m) under Lim’s new handling – and ownership – in the $70,000 Class 3 race over 1,000m would be a bonus.

But the Singaporean is just grateful a horse of that calibre has joined his seriously depleted stables.

June was a month Lim had been dreading. It marked the anointment of a new trainer in Singapore, his assistant trainer, Mahadi Taib.

Lim, 40, of course wished Mahadi, 50, the very best on his last day, but 18 horses also left the building, slashing his string off by more than half to 15.

However, he had not been ill-prepared the rug would be pulled from under his feet. 

“After Mahadi got his licence, I lost more than half of my stable,” said Lim.

“But I was expecting this drop in numbers as Mahadi had applied for a stable for a while.

“At the same time, we’re also in the third quarter. The horses have gone up in the handicaps and there are only four months left.”

Still, Lim had two options. Stare at his empty boxes and moan all day, or regroup and rebuild.

He chose the latter. Long-term, there were no two ways about it, get new blood in. 

Short-term, sniff up a good bargain on the resale market.

When Lim heard through the grapevine that Paletas, who last raced for trainer Michael Clements only one week earlier, was for sale, he was on his way towards ticking off that second box.

“A few days after his last start, I heard Paletas was for sale,” he said.

“I already knew the owner (Appointed Whale Stable) and I approached him with an offer. I won’t disclose the amount, let’s just say that to get a horse like Paletas for this sum, it was a steal.”

To some, second-hand horses are a band-aid solution to dwindling numbers, but Lim would rather use the metaphor of a popular convenience food to explain why he does not mind it.

“Stable transfers are like instant noodles, ready to go,” he said.

“We don’t have to wait for a long time looking for a new horse, buying, organising the vets, the freight, etc and spending a lot of money on all the associated costs.

“I’ve had some luck with second-hand horses. Sky Eye is the best example, he came very skinny, I saw the shortcoming, he was a roarer.

“Instead of a the usual tie-back operation, Dr Dan Shaw performed a new procedure where the throat is strengthened up. Sky Eye has really improved after that.

“But I’m also rejuvenating the stables, we’re going through a rebuilding phase. Some older horses will make way for new horses.

“During Covid-19, a lot of owners left, but I have a new string of buyers who’ve already bought a few horses, and want to buy more.”

One newcomer Lim is quite keen to see hit the ground running soon is Super Salute, a former China Horse Club galloper who raced in Group company in Australia. 

Then known as Construct, the I Am Invincible four-year-old and one-time Kembla Grange winner (1,200m) ran second in the Group 3 Breeders’ Plate (1,000m) at Randwick two years ago.

“He’s very promising. He easily beat Paletas in a gallop,” said Lim.

These are huge wraps given he already thinks highly of Paletas, a six-year-old by Iffraaj.

“Paletas is obviously still fit, and seems to be a straightforward horse, but I’ll learn more about him after that first run,” he said.

“There isn’t much speed after Ironchamp came out. I hope there’ll still be enough speed for him to use his good turn of foot.”