Sport

NOVEMBER 14, 2015 — The day Phineas won the Coca-Cola Invitational Mile

Jockey Wesley Henry remembers that incredible day

BY ruddy allen
Observer staff writer

Friday, November 10, 2017

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When the field turned for home in the boiling sun at Caymanas Park on November 14, 2015 in the Coca Cola Invitational Mile, Seeking My Dream took over proceedings from stable companion Fortuneonehundred in the handicap event, while Phineas was gearing up behind. In the final half-furlong (100m), Phineas just made it in the nick of time.

Ridden by Wesley Henry and toting a mere 50.5 kg (111 lb), Phineas managed to beat top-weighted 57.0kg (126 lb) Seeking My Dream and Robert Halledeen, winning by a head in a thrilling finish at the wire, denying the then Jamaica Derby winner a win at the highest level.

Phineas moved like a howling wind against the inside rails from way off the pace, and the roaring crowd rose to its feet as he unleashed a devastating closing kick in deep stretch to snatch success.

The race was so close – a matter of whiskers – that the result had to be resolved by a photo finish which brought immense joy to breeder Dr Paul Wright, owner Nical, trainer Andrew McDonald, Henry, and the groom of Phineas.

At the off, it was the speedy Fortuneonehundred (Paul Francis) who led the field at a merry clip over Seeking My Dream and Force De Jour (Aaron Chatrie), with Phineas among the back markers, yet to settle down in the race.

The pace increased as the field thundered past the half-mile (800m) with Fortuneonehundred looking determined on the lead, pressured all the way by Seeking My Dream and Phineas who had crept up on the leaders on the inside rails.

Swinging into the turn, Seeking My Dream grabbed the lead from his stable companion and looked all set for the victory, but Henry had other ideas. He positioned his mount on the outside, and Phineas got his head in front of Seeking My Dream in the glass in what remains one of the most exciting finishes in the Graded Stakes event. Phineas was clocked in a time of 1:37.2 for the mile (1,600m) event.

“Wow…what can I really say now? I mean, it was a very good race and the feeling was really good when we won the Invitational Mile on Superstakes Day. I came from overseas and rode him [ Phineas] before, and then the connections invited me again to ride him, and this time it was in the Invitational Mile.

“He [ Phineas] was training really well going into the race and I thought that he had a very good chance of winning as well, and so we gave it our best shot and came out [victorious].

“I broke him smartly, held him off the pace a bit and took my time to bring him down a little closer passing the six-furlong point; we were behind Seeking My Dream at the top of the lane, and I came on the outside and asked him to run, and Phineas responded well and got up in time to win. It was good at the time, he was younger, he was fitter and on top of his game,” Henry told the Supreme Racing Guide.

Henry said that riding in a race the calibre of the Invitational Mile always brings out the best in him.

“Well, just like any of the Classic races or even overseas in stakes races, the feeling riding in the Invitational Mile is just as great. You have to be dedicated, you have to put your mind to the task at hand and stay focused on what you are doing and you won't miss. Once the horses are 100 per cent fit and ready to go, I always give my best every time,” Henry said.

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