Racing review for Monday October 15, 2012
IT does not take a genius to understand and appreciate that when the 'big' horses are on the track in competition the quality of the racing air is different as the pungent aroma of the doom and gloom surrounding the sport is temporarily removed. Add the strong visibility and feeling of palpable excitement to the mix and we have all the ingredients of what racing should always be.
Racing fans witnessed the magnificence of St Cecelia on Saturday and on Monday, Heroes Day no less, those present at the racetrack watching the live action were left in awe after the devastating run by Mark My World in the 10-furlong Governor General Stakes.
Racing for only the second time this year having won the Eros trophy in March, Mark My Word, ridden by young apprentice Jemar Jackson, refused to capitulate to the sustained challenge of the younger Commanding Chief (Dick Cardenas) in a stretch run to remember, to win by a neck. It was a match race on paper and in reality.
It was a bold decision by trainer Richard Azan to give the ride of Mark My Word to Jackson who, up to the previous raceday, had never experienced the joys associated with entering the winner's enclosure, yet the young man used all the benefits of his training and no doubt the long and detailed instructions of Azan to score a famous victory for the connections of the former Horse-of-the-Year.
The decision by Azan to put the almost nine-pound claiming apprentice on the back of Mark My Word was made to limit the handicap advantage of Commanding Chief and for sure Mark My Word needed every ounce of that claim to win.
Eyebrows were raised but somewhat understood when the Overnight programme was published for this race. Azan having done the necessary risk assessment knew Commanding Chief was a formidable opponent and clearly decided to improve his chances of winning by putting Jackson in the saddle. If the gamble backfired he would have to face mean criticisms. In the end however, the gamble paid off but only just.
Commanding Chief and Cardenas did nothing wrong. He controlled the tempo of the race from in front and at no stage did Cardenas overwork the four-year-old even improving his chances by never letting go of the inside rails. Cardenas having ridden Mark My Word to Triple Crown glory in the past, knows he has a penchant for moving towards the rails especially in the straight, and by covering the rails, he would increase the possibility of Commanding Chief coming out victorious. It did not work this time but the run by Commanding Chief underscores his vast talent and hopefully sets the stage for more battles with Mark My Word. A truly great and memorable Governor's Cup which even Sir Patrick would have been proud.