Champion trainer Anthony Nunes says his horses will never carry 130 lb again after win by Toona CiliataFriday, February 19, 2021
BY RUDDY ALLEN
Following a fighting win by Toona Ciliata in the Eileen Cliggott Memorial Cup feature last Saturday (Feb 13), two-time champion trainer Anthony Nunes asserted that his top-rated chestnut gelding would never again feel the burden of carrying the maximum weight of 59.0 kgs (130 lb).
Set to carry the prohibitive impost of 59.0 kgs, Toona Ciliata got an easy in the scales due to the four kilogrammes claim of apprentice Romario Spencer, toting instead 55.0ks (121 lb) for the Graded Stakes/Open Allowance contest at 6 ½ furlongs (1,300m).
Spencer, whose career has been under the radar since he started about a year ago, in what can be considered as a masterful display in the saddle, brought Toona Ciliata between horses in deep stretch to win by three parts of a length. Toona Ciliata won ahead of God of Love (Christopher Mamdeen) and England's Rose (Anthony Thomas) in a time of 1:19.3
“I just promised myself that this year we wouldn't run him ( Toona Ciliata) with 59.0 kgs ever again. He did that twice last year and actually won once with 59.0 kgs in his back.
“I don't think that people realise how much it takes out of them [horses], that difference between 59.0 kgs and 57.0 kgs is huge. And I told myself that I am not going to do that again and so we called for Romario Spencer to ride in the Eileen Cliggott and he did a fantastic job.
“It was either not going to start Toona Ciliata or I was going to use an apprentice. Obviously, our first choice was champion apprentice of last year Oshane Nugent, who was working him all along, and I can understand why he chose Father Patrick because he had won two races straight on him recently and so we felt why not go for slipping off four kilogrammes, and we pretty much were of the belief that Spencer does a good job in the mornings, and would be able to relate his morning efforts in the afternoon,” the champion trainer Nunes said in his post-race interview.
The champion trainer continued: “We have to remove that archaic rule and protect our horses. Look at the magnificent American filly Zenyatta, she won 20 odd races and never carried more that 121 lbs in her career. Locally, look at She's A Maneater her career was cut short because of the imposition of this rule.“
Commenting on the ride by Spencer, Nunes said: “He [Romario Spencer] rode him beautifully because it was obvious to everybody that the speed was towards our inside as we had both England's Rose and Patriarch to deal with. They both basically ran the same type of race and so it was to get out and hold your position going into the half-mile and Toona Ciliata would level off eventually because really 6 ½ furlongs is not his trip and then down the lane he will fight them to the death.”
Spencer, who was all smiles after his win on the first runner-up to the Horse of the Year, said he was thankful for the opportunity and was now hoping that others would recognise his talent in the saddle.
“To ride a horse like Toona Cilita is something special and I would like to thank the trainer for having the confidence to give me the ride.
“I followed instructions and got the job done and others can now see that once I get the opportunity, I can ride winners.
“Let's see how it goes from here,” a jubilant Spencer said.
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