With a wife who works as a top headhunter in the financial district, trainer Jason Lim could not afford to ignore her stern proviso to naming a horse after their only son Alexander: ‘Only if the horse is good’.
Recruiting the best staff is her business and now Ivy Low expects her husband to settle for nothing less if he wants to follow his impulse to name a son of Shamexpress Boy Xander.
Not that the Robert Walters manager knows a horse’s head from its rear end, but she could only take a huge leap of faith in her hubby’s horse training instincts – honed from his days in the backwater of New South Wales in a little town called Murrwillumbah as a track rider 17 years ago.
The Singaporean handler could go home with a spring in his step on Saturday. Happy wife, happy life, and happy son - Boy Xander led for most of the way to score at his first start in a Restricted Maiden race over 1200m on Polytrack.
“My wife was okay with the idea of naming a horse I part-own after our son Xander. She just told me to make sure it’s a good horse,” said the third-season trainer.
“It’s too early to tell, but after he won when I thought he was only 75% fit, I guess he’s not too bad.”
Lim explained he only got to takeover half of the shares in the speedy sort after the original part-owner approached him. He wasn’t so keen at first, but a few looks at his breeze-ups had him pulling out the chequebook.
“(ex-Kranji trainer) Bruce Marsh bought this horse as a two-year-old, and sold half of the shares to a local owner,” said Lim.
“When Bruce left last year, he sold his shares and the owner (who doesn’t wish to be named) asked me if I wanted to buy them.
“I wasn’t sure but after I watched the breeze-ups, I liked what I saw and got on board. As we’ve become good friends and I feel he’s a good man, I’ve named the stable Good Men Racing Stable.”
Lim, however, said the flighty horse didn’t come with a “just add water” label. He was indeed a handful, just like his own little scallywag on two legs at home.
“When he arrived in my stable, he came with his own character. You put him in his box, and he would climb over the wall!” said Lim.
“He actually reminded me of Xander! He’s also like that, and that’s how he came to be named Boy Xander.
“He’s a raw diamond, he’s not the finished work yet, and that’s why I was very impressed with what he did on Saturday.
“His mind is still not put together. There’s still some polishing up to do.
“But I have to say he was very professional at the barriers on Saturday. I was surprised because he played up three times before being loaded in his trials.
“I was expecting him to do something silly in the barriers, but he was surprisingly very calm.
“That to me is an indication of a smart character. He’s playful, but when it comes to racing, he’s focused and is on his best behaviour.”
Lim said that on the speed he showed in his work, his instructions to Troy See was to go forward and see where he lands.
“I told Troy he was an out-and-out sprinter and he should try and lead, but I didn’t really expect him to lead,” he said.
“We had luck on our side and he just made it.”
Mark Walker’s newcomer Elliot Ness (Hakim Kamaruddin) finished at the rate of knots on the outside, but just missed out by a fingernail.
Now for the golden question: Did the real “boy Xander” watch his namesake win on the telly?
“Yes, he watched the replay at home. He was very happy!” said the proud father.