Horse Racing

Play Drummer Boy in Prince Consort Stakes

Brandy to prove too good in Thornbird Stakes

Observer writer

Saturday, March 17, 2018

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Drummer Boy, undefeated in his last two starts, heads a strong challenge going into the annual renewal of the Prince Consort Stakes (Grade 2) at Caymanas Park today.

While the colts and geldings prime themselves for Classic duties in the Prince Consort Stakes, the fillies will do likewise in the Thornbird Stakes going 1,400 metres for a similar purse of $1,300,000. A good field of 11 of the most promising fillies are carded and include Brandy, runner-up to Marquesas in the Jamaica Two-Year-Old Stakes, Band Of Gold, Lici's Pepsi, Fayrouz and Nadeshico.

A keen, knotty and highly unpredictable field of 12 of the brightest, native-bred three-year-old colts and geldings preparing for a campaign, in what appears to be a more competitive Classic season than that of last year's, will compete for the major share of $1,300,000 and the Prince Consort Stakes diadem.

The event in essence can be quite instructive in providing probably a better-than-even pointer to the quality and competitiveness of performances that can be extracted from this year's crop of horses. For up to this stage they have yet to distinguish themselves as a real cut above each other as they prepare for the nation's top Classic races.

Drummer Boy has shown that he will get a distance of ground and has also shown that he has commendable early speed. But so do a number of runners carded whom he has never raced against, including his stablemate Without Exception, Marquesas and the fly in the ointment, Another Vigorous.

Another Vigorous is being considered among one of the best juveniles of last season but has been afflicted with injuries for which he was sidelined after two races. He has, however, resurfaced for the three-year-old season looking a much-improved animal with a devastating 8 1/2-length performance over 1,100 metres. While his seasonal debut run was another eye-catching spectacle, the Rowan Mathie-prepared bay gelded son of Legal Process has never ventured beyond 1,200 metres, having won twice at distances of 1,100 metres. Following his lone juvenile victory, Another Vigorous disappointed against Patriarch by three quarters of a length when venturing over 1,200 metres in the first leg of the Supreme Ventures Limited Two-Year-Old Triple Series.

The Lloyd Davis-owned gelding is reported to be in exhilarating form and will provide all and sundry with their firmest test going 1,400 metres for the major slice of the purse.

Another inclusion here of great interest is Contractor, a Blue Pepsi Lodge chestnut colt who has shown good early and late speed at the minimum distances of 1,000 metres straight and round.

He is clearly bred for speed but his times do suggest he will not be intimidated by today's more established runners and should not be overawed in this company, with the distance to his liking.

Elsewhere, all eyes will be focused on the Wayne DaCosta-prepared Without Exception, full brother to last year's three-year-old sensation She's A Maneater. A bay colt by Natural Selection out of the Royal Minister mare Ahwhofah, Without Exception won his first three races quite comfortably — one of which was his debut three-year-old race.

However, when asked to go 1,600 metres a month later he struggled and ended at the back of the pack. Something must have gone awry then but whatever the concern, he seems to be back on track for this, carrying 56.0kg. Omar Walker, who was aboard on last, remains the saddle.

Meanwhile, stable companion Drummer Boy will again be ridden by jockey Dane Nelson and will enter the contest carrying 53.5kg.

Topping the scale will be Marquesas, the mount of Shane Ellis with 57.0kg.

Despite the mention of other talented and prominent runners, the Two-Year-Old Stakes champion Marquesas is one they will all have to beat. He looks the part at exercise and, despite saddled with top weight, will not go down without a fight should one develop.

This will be his debut run as a three-year-old and he will do so quite fit. Last season he ran five times with three victories, including the premier juvenile event. Before the Coded Warning bay colt out of the Devongate mare Islamorada, owned by Epic Group, won the Two-Year-Old Stakes run at 1,600 metres, he completed a hat-trick of wins by winning over 1,200 metres at today's distance.

His last two wins were against the filly Brandy, a stablemate of both Drummer Boy and Without Exception. If this is anything to go by, Marquesas, prepared by Michael Marlowe, should be well tested to win this with so much lively speed and pacy runners present with which to contend.

Brandy, one of the better fillies in the Thornbird Stakes, should be able to take care of this bunch even though she would have more enjoyed an increase in distance. However, Dane Nelson remaining atop Band Of Gold could also prove competitive enough to be fighting this out, with the likes of Lici's Pepsi and Nadeshico also in the mix.

Ones To Watch

Race 1 A Vessel Of Love, Sure Step, Pizarro

Race 2 Princess Malik, Rohan's Cattlea, Mr Pantheon

Race 3 Mr Universe, Secret Traveller, Sotomayer

Race 4 Golden Bullet, Meet Justin, El Client

Race 5 Dysfunctional, Princess Emanuel, Dontae

Race 6 Race, Stan Roy, Captain DJ

Race 7 Brandy, Band Of Gold, Lici' Pepsi

Race 8 Ricky Ricardo

Race 9 Drummer Boy, Another Vigorous, Marquesas

Race 10 Nuclear Force, Prince Sammo, Big Paul

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