Battle-weary Tan wins the war
When trainer Alwin Tan finished runner-up on the 2014 and 2015 logs, he had War Affair to hail as the driving force behind those amazing runs.
This year, Tan finally claimed his first Singapore title at his seventh attempt.
It really didn't matter that War Affair has already left his yard.
The Singaporean trainer was somehow still inspired by the "war theme" as he reflected on the season that was.
"I like the works of the famous Chinese war strategist Sun Zi. His ideas helped me a lot," said the former Air Force regular- turned-racehorse trainer.
"Even without War Affair, I had a lot of bread-and-butter horses. In this game, it's all about planning and placing horses in the right races.
"There's no secret formula, but you must plan ahead and you need to have good staff, too.
If there is one person I owe the most to, it’s my wife Boon Horng, who has been supportive of my decision to become a trainer from Day 1.Trainer alwin Tan
"In a way, I've been lucky to always have new horses coming through at different times of the year, like Conflight and Infantry. Then came Mystic Master and Nova Swiss. I also had horses who came back and won, like Infantry."
Tan top-scored this year's ladder with 90 winners, 13 clear of his nearest rival, Patrick Shaw.
In the end, it was a comfortable margin which, as he conceded, only started to come up roses in the fourth quarter of the season.
"It was a close contest with Pat. It's only around mid-October when I was seven winners clear that I started to think that this could be my year," he said.
"At the start of the year, I was hoping for 60 winners and a top-five finish, but it's been a really nice surprise to have won 90 races and the title.
"It's fantastic. This is every trainer's dream. I came close to my goal in the last two years, and I told myself if I worked harder, I could try and achieve it this year.
"Our horses have been running well. Nova Swiss winning four races in a row has to be one of the highlights of the year.
"I have to thank my owners, my assistant-trainer Joe D Zulkifliy, stable supervisor YF (Yoon Fei) Leong, my track riders and all my syces for their hard work.
"If there is one person I owe the most to, it's my wife Boon Horng, who has been supportive of my decision to become a trainer from Day 1. She seldom misses a race meeting and she's my biggest fan."
FIRST LOCAL TRAINER
Tan is the first local trainer to be crowned Singapore champion since Charles Leck in 2003. His strength lies in the lower to middle-range divisions while he had less depth at the elite level.
With the second largest team of runners on 785 horses (after last year's champion Mark Walker's 835), his strike rate of 11.46 per cent is indicative that a scattergun approach can sometimes be effective.
Not surprisingly, he collected less silverware. Conflight won the Dester Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprint and Mystic Master took the Juvenile Championship.
"I didn't have top Group horses, but Nova Swiss and Infantry could be strong contenders in the Group races next year," he said.
"I also want to defend my title. We're having a break now, but I'm already getting ready for 2017."