Leading trainer Richard Lim has enjoyed his best start to a season in 2024 and he hopes that golden run can continue at the first meeting of February this Saturday at Kranji.
The Ipoh-born Singaporean handler has seven wins to his name thus far, including his first Group win with Super Salute in the Group 3 New Year Cup on 6 January, and he now sits on top of the trainers’ log, with two wins more than reigning champion trainer, Jason Ong.
Though it was still early in the season, the results so far were promising, given Lim finished in 10th place with 28 wins on the trainer’s log last year.
Two of his runners that Lim thought could add to his early season tally on Saturday are General Command in the SG$85,000 Class 2 race and Lord’s Command in the SG$70,000 Class 3 race.
He reckoned the Lordship Stable-owned gallopers looked to be in the winning mix on paper and leading jockey, Manoel Nunes, is booked to ride on both of them.
“It’s been a great start to the year,” said Lim, who only started training in his own right in 2022.
“It’s nice to get winners for my owners and hopefully, we can continue that on Saturday with Lord’s Command as one of my better chances.
“He won on the Polytrack last start but he likes the turf too, so no problem on the surface.
“All his races in Australia were on grass tracks and he broke his maiden here, in an Open Maiden race on 27 August, on the turf track by a big margin (six lengths).
“Nunes has a very good record on him (four rides for three wins and one second) and I think 57kgs is a very fair weight for him in this field, which I thought was not overly strong.
“We would like a good barrier but Lord’s Command puts himself on the speed, so we expect a very forward run.”
As a four-year-old, the son of Shalaa could also be a major player in the three feature races open only to four-year-olds, in which the first will be the Gr3 Silver Bowl on 9 June.
However, Lim cautioned that the 1800m of the Gr1 Singapore Derby may be a test for the headstrong Lord’s Command.
“He would definitely have a crack at the Silver Bowl,” said the former jockey, who was famously handed the winning trophy by the late Queen Elizabeth after he won the 2006 Gr2 Queen Elizabeth II Cup on King And King.
“Lord’s Command races very keenly, but I think he can handle 1400m. Hopefully, we can teach him to settle and he can go on to the mile race (the Gr2 Stewards’ Cup on 30 June).
“But the Derby distance may test him at this stage. I would love to try him over longer in Class 3, but the programme doesn’t suit at the moment.”
Of General Command, who was first-up after being finishing eighth in the Gr3 Merlion Trophy on 28 October, Lim thought a drop to his recent winning grade will see improvement.
“General Command needed a break after his last run,” said Lim of the five-year-old, also by Shalaa.
“And the drop back to this company obviously helps. He won his last two races in Class 2 and we were very happy with his recent trial.
“He had a little bit of pacework only for Nunes this morning as we kept him very fresh for this run.
“A good gate is always handy over this trip, but he can race just off the speed if he has to.”
Lim was not putting all his eggs in the ‘Commands’ basket. He said Colonel Son, who will line up in the SG$50,000 Class 4 Division 1 race and The Shadow, who runs in the SG$30,000 Class 5 Division 1 race over both stood some chance.
“I have three (runners) in that race, Filial Dragon and Elite Legend were also nominated, but I think Colonel Son is my pick,” he said of the four-year-old son of Pariah.
“It looks like a strong race but I will claim four kilos with apprentice jockey Faiz Khair and Colonel Son is in good form.
“Jockey Marc Lerner will ride The Shadow. He won on him at his last start and while trainer Jason’s Ong horse, Smoke And Mirrors, looks hard to beat, we should go well.”
Singapore horseracing continues on Saturday at Kranji with the first due off at 06h00.