Race day review ­– Sunday, December 26, 2021
She's My Destiny - Javaniel Patterson (Photos: Garfield Robinson)

The absolutely engrossing battle for 2021 training honours between two-time defending champion Anthony Nunes and aspiring Jason DaCosta has been the subject of much debate and even private wagering by supporters of either camp, with formal celebrations planned by at least one side.

Up to the commencement of the previous race day on December 23, DaCosta had a lead of $1.35 million, which was reduced to $90,635 at the end of race four, with Nunes winning races two and three as well. DaCosta's response could not have been immediate as two of only three declarations remained with his third race entry failing to finish. A fifth-placed purse in the night cap enabled DaCosta to enjoy a razor-thin margin for the start of this race meeting.

The $4.0-million total purse for the renewal of the 11th and feature 1,700-metre Ian Levy Trophy, with $2.1 million reserved for the owner of the winner, was likely to prove decisive for one or the other protagonists. The field of 12 declarations was reduced to 10 with I Am Fred (USA) and Eroy (USA) being withdrawn, the latter having been the unfortunate recipient of an accidental kick by rival King Arthur.

Far-striding, strong-paced Sparkle Diamond (USA) from the Nunes camp had the pace-making job for stablemates Further And Beyond (3/2) and Santorini (40/1). With the absence of I Am Fred (USA), DaCosta was left to challenge with King Arthur, whose unruly pre-race antics was a strange new and concerning phenomenon, and the 11-year-old Hover Craft.

Further And Beyond, ridden by Robert Halledeen for a riding triple and included Nunes' third winner on the card, glided past the leaders approaching the distance and won the Ian Levy by over seven lengths to give a decisive championship edge to Nunes since none of DaCosta's three entries declared was expected to win the 1,600-metre Jamaica Two-Year-Olds Stakes Boxing Day feature, with its purse disbursement identical to that of the Ian Levy.

Nunes won the opening event run over 1,300 metres, with Carlos Blake riding General Mubaraak (3/5) favourite.

The second of the 11 scheduled races was won by trainer Joseph Thomas's Key Witness, (8/5) ridden by Raddesh Roman for the first of a double for the trainer. The afternoon's third was secured by front-running juvenile 6/5 chance Runaway Algo (USA), with Shane Ellis astride for conditioner Dale Murphy.

Former Nunes inmate Versatile Vision (3/1) won for a third time for different trainers, having been claimed twice and did Lawrence Freemantle and now Maurice Crooks a good turn. The consistent filly, ridden by Anthony Thomas, scored by just over one length over the 1,400-metre gallop of the fourth. Over a similar trip in race five, Doctor Grey, saddled by Joseph Thomas for his training double, arrived in the final stride to win the fifth event at odds of 9/5.

Generational (6/5) proved to be the second of the three Nunes winners and the first of Halledeen's triple in scoring in the 1,200-metre sixth event.

Halledeen had his second of three in the eighth over 1,300 metres riding Curlin's Affair (8/5) for Nunes. While DaCosta saddled the first of his two winners on the card, with maiden Thegoodlife (7/5) winning the seventh with Phillip Parchment replacing injured Thomas, who fell from his mount in the sixth event.

Race eight also saw DaCosta replacing Thomas with Javaniel Patterson to partner the impressive She's My Destiny (3/5), who reeled off the 1,300 metres of race nine in a time 1:17.2 to score by 13½ lengths.

In the absence of Thomas, Lynch gave former six-time champion jockey Omar Walker the opportunity to win the 1,820-metre 10th event, with 8/5 favourite Rusty holding on to frustrate the strong finish of his chief rival by a short head.

The Training Feat Award is presented to Jason DaCosta for the performance of She's My Destiny. The three-year-old filly was having only her fourth career start having been unraced since last July and delivered an efficient machine-like run for the Best Winning Gallop. Omar Walker gets the Jockeyship Award or his handling of Rusty; a horse with which he had no familiarity prior to this chance ride.

Versatile Vision - Anthony Thomas

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