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Tantheman, not the name Tan meant, but it will do

Thunder Man or otherwise, Kranji trainer is unfazed; he just hopes horse goes boom

Local trainer Jerome Tan is well known around Kranji for his great sense of humour.

When a new horse he owns and trains was recently unveiled as Tantheman, it is not hard to imagine how he would have been the target of some light banter.

But as much as the Singaporean has a jocular side, even the slightly chest-thumping namesake seemed out of character to his media-shy nature.

It turned out Tantheman was never the name he had intended to register the Smart Missile three-year-old as.

Fans might be disappointed, but Tan does not harbour illusions of grandeur or dreams of himself in spandex.

As is sometimes the case, a simple admin error was the culprit, and phonetics the root cause.

“I wanted to call him Thunder Man, but somehow, the officer heard wrongly and wrote his name down as Tantheman,” said Tan.

“By the time I found out, it was too late to change. So I decided to leave it as Tantheman.”

Whether Thunder Man has a nicer ring than Tantheman is a case for conjecture, but this is how the A$20,000 (S$18,600) purchase as a yearling will now be known as.

After all, horses cannot spell, and if they are to take the racing scene by storm, it does not really matter if they are named Thunder, Trigger or Tumbleweed.

Besides, the racing world has hatched many happy endings to such typo-induced misnamed horses.

American Pharoah, the 2015 US Triple Crown winner, is a famous case in point. The misspelling of “Pharoah” (instead of Pharaoh) also arose through an inadvertent mistake.

Tan has graciously moved on from the “Thunder Blunder” – so long it was not a mistake made at the sale ring of the Inglis HTBA Yearling Sale in Sydney in 2021.

“I really liked the horse. He had a nice conformation,” he said.

“I got him as a yearling for A$20,000. In the end I kept him for myself.”

Tan had to wrap his new ward up in cotton wool for a while, though.

“He had some issues when he came, he had a stress fracture. That’s why he took a little longer to get ready,” he said.

“But he’s very well now. I was very happy with his trials.

“I think he will run a good race. He’s got a chance.”

The top of the market of the $75,000 Restricted Maiden race over 1,200m on Saturday is likely to be hogged by Italian Revolution and debutant Diaz, while, interestingly enough, the other horse who may “steal the thunder” is another newbie who goes by the name of Thunder Hero.

In-form jockey Wong Chin Chuen, who was aboard at all of Tantheman’s four barrier trials, keeps the reins.

Runner-up to Manoel Nunes in 2022, Wong shares the same number of winners (eight) as the Brazilian, but the Malaysian hoop sits in second place on a countback for seconds.

On the other hand, Tan, who finished mid-table in 2022 with a decent haul of 24 winners, has yet to get on the scoresheet after three meetings.

The 55-year-old, who relocated to his home turf in 2019 after cutting his teeth as a trainer in Penang for 10 years, will be banking on either Tantheman or his other two runners Big Day ($30,000 Class 5 race over 1,400m) and Savvy Command ($50,000 Class 4 race over 1,000m) to break the deadlock as soon as possible.

In 2022, he had to wait for two months before he led in his first winner Sacred Gift on March 5. When it rains it pours, though. Tan racked up 10 more winners in the next eight weeks.

Tan does not dwell on the past, but would rather look ahead instead.

He is currently taking care of the future at the New Zealand Bloodstock’s 2023 National Yearling Sale, which takes place in Karaka from Sunday to Tuesday.

“I haven’t seen anything yet. Hopefully, I can find a nice horse,” he said.

If he does, he may well get another chance of getting his Thunder Man for real this time.