Mellowing Saint Cecelia, Uncle Taf reign
Raceday review - Saturday October 13, 2012
IT is not often that we have in racing a top-class mare prolonging a distinguished career after the age of six years. The established norm is for outstanding fillies turn mares at four to enter the breeding shed at four but certainly at five.
Not so for Horse-of-the-Year St Cecelia who at six continues to dominate all and sundry with quality performance after quality performance. The Spencer Chung-trained mare can be considered to be the first major beneficiary of the relatively new weight rule which sets the top weight any horse can carry in any race at 126 lbs. Before this new rule became part of the racing regulations, top graded horses including fillies and mares often had to carry 131 lbs, 133 lbs, and in what can be considered the distant past, even 140 lbs.
Some punters will remember the exploits of None Such, whose trophy race St Cecelia won with ease on Saturday last, toting 140 lbs many times with distinction. Remember the magnificent filly Eight Thirty carrying just over 130 lbs even after an apprentice claim by Simpson Brown losing on the line over seven furlongs to Davisville with the great George HoSang in the saddle. Horses like Eight Thirty and St Cecelia are very rare.
The change in weight regulation is probably one of the main reasons why the connections of St Cecelia decided to prolong her racing career. The change of weight rule favours St Cecelia as there is a limit to the light weight her opponents can carry given the fact that we do not have many lightweight riders. Horses racing against St Cecelia are often forced to go overweight sometimes giving away any handicap advantage they might have in the original conditions.
There is absolutely no doubt that St Cecelia is one of, if not the best, of the fairer sex to grace our racetrack, nothing should be taken away from her and to perform the way she is doing is living proof of her ability. Maybe, too, her owners took the decision to race her because of the many uncertainties linked with breeding. The breeding shed is a place of glorious uncertainties, there are not guarantees and the sages from Port Maria must have felt they would earn more if they kept on racing St Cecelia, a decision which is paying rich dividends. There is none such as St Cecelia at Caymanas Park.
The hard work, the many hours of methodical planning, and the innate love and appreciation of horse racing are bearing fruits for trainer, owner, and breeder Ian Parsard. What we are witnessing in the case of the younger Parsard and friends coming together, as they say in our 50th year, on a mission, that mission being to excel in racing if not dominate.
They are breeding horses, they are importing horses and they are delving in the claiming market with some amount of success. The triple landed by Parsard on Saturday - Rolex (claiming); Uppa Tune (Imported three-year-old); and Dream Point (Imported) was in the view of this writer not an accidental occurrence, it may just be the precursor of what is to come from the syndicate listed as PJK, the owners of Parsard's triple. For sure the triple success is the result of good horse sense and the willingness to take chances in a very unforgiving sport. Good luck in the future to Ian and his team.
Owen Sharpe despite his great physical presence is a man who quietly does what he has to do in racing. He never seems to be pretentious, and year after year, earns his keep by producing good horses and by choosing the right time to expose them to racing.
Uncle Taf, owned, bred and trained by Sharpe after two eye-catching wins at the two-year-old level, is firmly establishing himself as the best of the juveniles to race thus far this season.
Despite difficulties in the chestnut colt's first race, he came with a devastating run to win. On Saturday, Uncle Taf would have none of that and after racing just off the pace, stormed through to win in convincing fashion from Hovercraft and long-time leader Alison. It was an impressive performance by Uncle Taf who is already exciting race goers although it must be said that Hovercraft was finishing very well thereby closing the gap with every stride.
Congratulations to former champion jockey Omar Walker who rode his 600th career winner abroad Uncle Taf.