Race Day Review – Saturday, October 14, 2023
THE declaration of 70 horses for the card was reduced by five absentees to bear resemblance to the Gymkhanas of the 1950s and 1960s with hacks and ponies featured.
This is the consequence of staging five programmes in a 10-day window. In fairness to the promoters, this scheduling was submitted to the governing Jamaica Racing Commission for approval on or before November 30, 2022. However, one can’t fault the optimism which had this outcome as all opportunities for earning must be maximised by the promoting company.
Saddled by owner/trainer Oral Hayden, the day’s opening event was decided with a near five-length romp by 1-5 favourite Rohan Kabir (Raddesh Roman) over 1,400 metres, thus continuing the promising start to the career of the debutant conditioner. That was his eighth trip to the winners’ enclosure from only 35 declarations in his first season to date.
Four-kilogramme claiming jockey Marshall Porter rode Blue Seas (3-1) to win the 1,100-metre race two for trainer David Powell. It seems such a long time since Porter scored a double on the first day in the saddle, nearly two years ago. However, he has not been engaged by the trainers with the frequency necessary to give him a chance to develop. Such are the vagaries of this exacting profession.
To the more discerning and experienced punters, Kingswood, the 3-5 favourite, was not a keen walker in the post parade and missed the break of the 1,400-metre third event. Colawill (5-1), owned and saddled by another recent licensee Courtney Williams, was ridden to victory by crowd favourite reinsman Phillip Parchment, a man whose athletic ability is fearsome. This was confirmed again by a duel here with another such endowed, Roger Hewitt (Kiah), who had to yield two lengths in the last 50 metres.
Race three, run at 1,200 metres, generated a huge talking point when, following a bizarrely lengthy Stewards’ Inquiry, there was no disqualification of first-past-the-post Storm A Come (2-1), trained by Patrick Lynch. There was clear and obvious intimidation and interference to King Air in the tactics deployed by Jordan Barrett aboard the winner.
With the use of only left-handed whipping inside the last 200 metres it was abundantly clear: The tracking of the path of Storm A Come indicates his diagonal edging to the right. This had to be deemed deliberate action by Barrett, who eventually took his mount almost into the path of King Air (22-1). Anthony Allen was aboard King Air and was forced to take evasive action to avoid a collision. He subsequently lost momentum but would have been second and not third, as slow-motion frontal view of the incident confirmed.
I am not formally trained as an operation steward but in the last half a century I have seen thousands of incidents in racing jurisdictions live on three continents, therefore I think I have developed a full understanding of what is a simple task to determine what constitutes unfair riding tactics, and the criteria to determine same. The length of this deliberation suggests it was a 2-1 majority decision. On the day, two of the officiating operation stewards got this one wrong!
In race five, restricted to three-year-old maidens and contested over 800 metres of the straight course, Exotic Light (5-1) — owned and schooled by hard-working conditioner Gary Griffiths — won for the stable’s first of two successes on the day. This gave veteran Devon A Thomas his third win from 46 rides so far this season.
In race six, ever-improving jockey Raddesh Roman induced a well-timed effort from 8/5 favourite Bella Bella (utero) to score by a half-length for trainer Dale Murphy.
Featured on the nine-race card and staged as the seventh event was another renewal of the Mark My Word Trophy to honour the memory of one of the island’s most impressive stayers of all time. Favourite at 1-5, classy Blue Vinyl (Javaneil Patterson) was turned out by Alford Brown to canter over the circular, extended 1820-metre course to win by 21 and a half lengths.
At the end of the 1000-metre round race eight, Gary Griffiths in saddling Digital Light (5-2) claimed the second of his double, this time in tandem with Tevin Foster for the rider’s first of two on the card.
Trained by Fitzgerald Richards, Sir John (5-2) confirmed Foster’s double success in the nightcap contested over 1400 metres.
The Training Feat Award is given to conditioner Gary Griffiths for presenting Exotic Light in superb condition, following a nine-month hiatus, to perform The Best Winning Gallop. Raddesh Roman, a multiple awardee, gets the Jockeyship Award for his timing and balance to execute a narrow success for Bella Bella (utero).