Anthony Thomas at his best on Laban
Race day review — Sunday, November 20, 2022
Jockey Paul Francis on Dream of Paris, his second winner on the day.

NO trophy event was slated for decision on the nine-race programme, therefore the Overnight Allowance nightcap served as the main attraction. Eleven lined up for the 1400-metre gallop and the race was easily the most interesting and generated the requisite excitement.

Surprisingly, joint top weight Money Monster (57 kilos), one of the least effective over the distance, was installed as the favourite at odds of 6-5 and never showed with a chance of justifying the market support. On the other hand, Laban (57 kilos) stumbled at the start but recovered smartly to chase pacemakers Baton Rouge (15-1) and American-bred Eagle One (5-2).

Defending titlist Anthony Thomas, on 500 career wins with 84 already this season — four less than current leader Dane Dawkins — was at his absolute best and gave the Richard Azan-trained Laban (5-2) the full benefit of an immense skill set in the saddle.

Waiting patiently behind the front-runners the three-time champion induced Laban to hug the rails in the bend. Entering the last 200 metres marginal leader Eagle One (USA) was forced into the path of the gaining Laban by Baton Rouge, who edged left. Thomas's response was brilliant in that he got his mount off the rails and split those rivals expertly to secure his second winner on the card.

The opening event, run over 1100 metres, ended in a fourth victory for lightly raced, in form five-year-old Last Lick (1-5), trained by Gordon Lewis and ridden by Chalrick Budhai. Bizarrely, this horse, who will be six years old next New Year's Day, has now qualified for Overnight Allowance to take on the likes of Laban and Eagle One (USA) and better others or be given away as a claimer. This is just another prime example of the flawed arrangements of the failed Claiming and Condition System.

Race two went to Big Argument (4-5), confidently ridden by Paul Francis for the first of the veteran reinsman's two wins on the card. Trained by Edward Stanberry for the first of two wins on the day, the chestnut filly was a length superior to her nearest rival in the 1200-metre contest restricted to four-year-olds and upwards non-winners of two races.

Well-bred imported juvenile Is That A Fact (USA), ridden by Omar Walker for leading conditioner Jason DaCosta, performed his promise in the 1100-metre third race as the 2-5 favourite by being just over five lengths in front at the line.

Even-money favourite Wearyourhonour (Christoper Mamdeen), schooled by Colin Ferguson and having his second career start, was an unconvincing narrow winner of the day's fourth run at 1000 metres straight.

Race five, run over a similar distance, ended with the fifth-winning favourite in the form of free-scoring, oft-claimed Okahumpka (6-5) trained by Ian Alexander. The eight-year-old gelding has changed barns five times and has won six of his last eight starts. Incidentally, Thomas was the winning rider for the first of his double on the Sunday programme.

For the second day running Raddesh Roman, who does very well with front-runners, was on yet another mount to confirm this particular preference. Hecandance (7-5), saddled by Gary Crawford for race six, went to the front early and easily. The former Anthony Nunes-trained eight-year-old gelding never looked likely to be overtaken and won the 1400-metre gallop by six lengths.

Race seven, contested by a field of eight maidens over 1000 metres straight, gave Paul Francis one of his better days this season by confirming double success in winning aboard the Edward Stanberry-conditioned Dream Of Paris. This secured this trainer's second winner for his best day this year.

The enterprising tactics deployed by Reyan "Action Pack" Lewis aboard Lawrence Freemantle's Justin Biden (5-1) in the 1500-metre eighth, restricted to three-year-old non-winners of two races, was executed perfectly. In an effort to test the speed and stamina of his nine rivals, Lewis rushed the chestnut colt into an unaccustomed lead and kept increasing the pace to turn for home clear. Having the field in trouble at the distance Justin Biden had just enough momentum inside the last 100 metres to deny even-money favourite Fly Messenger Fly by three parts of a length.

The Training Feat Award is presented to Lawrence Freemantle for transformation of Justin Biden into a front-runner to score in a very competitive race. Laban performed the Best Winning Gallop and the performance of Anthony Thomas is recognised with the Jockeyship Award.

Laban - Anthony Thomas (Photos: Garfield Robinson)

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