COMMANDING Chief rebounded with an electrifying run to win the prestigious $786,500 Owen Silvera Memorial Cup feature to add to a highly entertaining nine-race card at Caymanas Park yesterday.
Dane Nelson was also in vintage form and booted home another three-timer to be just seven wins short of his first hundred winners in a season and also winning his first Jockeys' Championship.
It was, however, the new batch of claiming apprentices who set the stage for a memorable day at the Park with Kuri Powell in his first official ride as an apprentice rider winning the opening race on the programme by a neck with a breathtaking rail running feat aboard the 7-1 shot Yes We Will for veteran trainer Robert Darby Snr.
Fifteen of the 19 graduants secured rides and three won races, two in similar fashion to the first.
Second up was Renardo McNaughton, who scored a convincing four-length win aboard Jagsover in the fourth for trainer Anthony Nunes, while Ruja Lahoe, who went down by a neck in the second atop the 3-1 chance Saga Boy for trainer Fitzroy Glispie, to Dane Nelson aboard the 5-1 bet Aquilo, rebounded in the sixth by a similar margin of victory over Shane Ellis aboard the 5-2 betting option Special Report.
Nelson's other winners were Si Puedo in the third for trainer Steven Todd and Brother To Brother in the seventh for trainer Ryan Darby.
Following the earlier heroics it was left to Commanding Chief to live up to his name and billing of 3-5 favourite by blowing away Open Allowance company with a devastating run going 1,600 metres in a smart 1:38.3 minutes.
Trained by Everal Francis for owners Doks Stables, Commanding Chief went from gate to wire and looked very relaxed under the champion jockey Dick Cardenas. So relaxed that the far striding colt was travelling with such ease, his time much faster than it appeared with the naked eye, as his final time was built on fractions of 23.3, for the first quarter, 45.4 for the second and 1200 metres in 1:10.3 with the final time equaling that of his second place finish to Mismyrtleboyrichie, whose winning time was a quick 1:37.2.
The American-bred Raise A Ruckus ridden by Winston Griffiths, and like Commanding Chief Grade One performers, was second two lengths back at odds of 7-2 with Classy Prospect ridden by Dane Nelson showing as a 15-1 bet and the imported filly Nyabighi ridden by claiming apprentice Prince Holder completing the frame in the field of 11.
A four-year-old chestnut gelding by War Marshall out of She Knows Beau (Beau Genius) bred Paul Chen, Commanding Chief was winning for the eighth time from 14 career starts and he earned $330,300 as the winner's share for earnings of $6,807530 lifetime.