Race day review — Saturday, November 20, 2021Tuesday, November 23, 2021
BY WES MARTIN
The feature event was another renewal of the United Racehorse Trainers of Jamaica Association (URTAJ) Trophy. With this annual exercise the membership takes the opportunity to show appreciation for the service of these horsemen and, with the help of sponsors, offers gifts to those specially recognised.
Run over 1820 metres as the ninth item on the 10-race programme, the field included in the eight declarations were half a dozen, which were unsuccessful 2021 Classic aspirants; namely, Sir John, Iannai Links, Bern Notice, Daddy Jones, Big Jule, and Santorini at varying stages of development or otherwise.
Having received an undisclosed setback, Big Jule missed the 2000 Guineas and, even following an 18½ lengths victory margin in an impressive preparation race for the remaining Classics, failed to appear in the St Leger. Trained by Ian Parsard the talented colt was able to take his chances in the Derby but fell back tamely after turning for home in second and looking a threat to the then race leader in the upper stretch.
Rested and well-tuned for this gallop in the URTAJ Trophy Big Jule's performance was well in keeping with his above average ability. Travelling on the bridle well beyond the halfway point the 7/5 second favourite cruised into the lead 500 metres from the finish and outstayed his rivals thoroughly; coasting in by 10½ lengths to give Linton Steadman a riding double on the card.
In the opener, 2019 champion Christopher Mamdeen was at his bustling best, despite the loss of his whip in the final 75 yards to drive home 7/1 shot Zabratone. A former Richard Azan inmate, the rangy chestnut was game over the 1,500 metres for trainer Colin Ferguson's 12th success from 85 starts this season.
The Richard Azan-schooled two-year-old maiden filly Pelicula (3/1), ridden by Oshane Nugent, elevated her status in the hardest possible manner in the day's second in leaving the gates slowly to give her field a few lengths head start. The light-framed filly sped to the front over 800 metres out, proceeded to run closer to the rails on the grandstand side, but still arrived at winning post nearly two lengths clear of her closest pursuer in the 1,400-metre second event.
Speaking of running close to the near-side rails, Sir Arjun Babu, the 6/5 favourite, in front turning for home in the 1,820 metres third event obviously runs customarily faster in the home straight when he drifts right. Wisely, Linton Steadman allowed the gelding to indulge in his ground-losing habit, but the five-year-old gelding still accumulated a four-length win margin on the circular 1,820-metre course.
Trainer Oniel Markland, whose sobriquet is “Sweetyman”, must have agreed with owner Michael Howard to register his bay colt by Soldat with this name; this raised a minor talking point. In the afternoon's 1,000-metre straight fourth, Sweetyman, making his first appearance, showed no sign of inexperience and, with apprentice Nicholas Hibbert at the reins, battled gamely to claim victory by a nose at odds of 4/1.
Ruds D Indian (Shane Ellis) won the 1,600-metre fifth at odds of 6/1 to give long-serving conditioner Patrick Fong his eighth success of the season from 108 starts followed by owner/breeder/trainer Carl Anderson (9 wins, 123 starts) saddling Press Conference (Paul Francis) to win the sixth over 1,300 metres returning odds of 7/1.
Coralando (Robert Halledeen) won the 1200-metre sprint of the seventh at 3/2 to give trainer Steven Todd his 29th of the season with more success to come in fortunate circumstances.
With the disqualification of “first-past-the-post” Mirabilis in the 1,200-metre sprint of the eighth race, Robert Halledeen denied himself double riding success. The race was awarded to 9/2 shot Special Counsel, ridden by Mamdeen for his second winning mount and trained by Steven Todd for the top-10 third-generation horseman to enjoy double success as well.
On recognising his breeding, conformation and stride pattern, this writer knew immediately that US-bred Sparkle Diamond (2/1) is not an out and out sprinter. It was therefore not surprising that, given the opportunity by Andrew Nunes to race over 1,400 metres in the tenth and closing event, the huge five-year-old chestnut had his rivals in trouble early. Sparkle Diamond was eventually 5½ lengths better than his field for Ellis's second winning mount on the card.
The Training Feat Award is presented to Oniel Markland for the presentation of late debutant Sweetyman to deliver the Best Winning Gallop, while apprentice Nicholas Hibbert takes the Jockeyship Award for demonstrating the requisite confidence and athletic ability to succeed against also very well-ridden competitor Morse Code piloted by apprentice Romario Spencer.