|Race Day Review Day 30 Saturday 15th August 2012|
ARIMA RACE CLUB
Harding speeding towards major milestone
AFTER being stalled for quite a while, Brian Harding is now racing towards the finish line and is now within touching of accomplishing the tremendous milestone of reaching 1,000 winners in his career at Santa Rosa Park, Arima.
After booting home two winners the previous Saturday, the nine-time champion jockey was on fire as he won half of the eight events during the 30th round of the Arima Race Club’s 2012 Season.
Harding now needs just four winners to reach the magical mark and in his present mood, the veteran of more than 30 years experience in the saddle could get there during the very next race day.
If he does, it will be the perfect script as the next day of action at Santa Rosa Park will be on Friday when Trinidad and Tobago will be celebrating its 50th anniversary of independence.
But it has not all been a bed of roses this season for Harding as he just came through one of the leanest periods of his entire career. In the two months between winning the Midsummer Classic at the end of May and the inaugural Betting Levy Board Trinidad Tobago Classic on Emancipation Day (August 1) with Onetokeep, Harding could only muster one winner.
That now seems like a lifetime ago and it now feels that he could do no wrong as he struck four times for six mounts this time out.
Harding was all business from the word go when he guided No Just Cause to win the day’s opener, the 1,750-metre contest for 60-40 rate horses by 1 ¼ lengths for Rhanie Mohammed.
The American-bred three-year-old half-brother to Treasure Each Day, who had finished second last time out after failing to find the board in the first seven starts of his career, is trained by Mohammed’s husband, Glen, the Express horse racing reporter.
One Fortheroad was the overwhelming favourite, but the fourth-placed finisher in the Easter Guineas, finished a very disappointing fourth.
Four of the first five events were contested over 1,750 metres and Harding came back in the fourth to land Prado’s Princess by five length in the race for 40 & lower ranked horses.
And right after he was at it again when favourite Esquire won the most exciting event of the programme.
The Caribbean Turf Championship winner took the race for 85-65 rated horses by a neck from Loan Shark, the fourth-placed finisher in last year’s Guineas, while this year’s Guineas runner-up Big Thing was only half-length adrift in third.
This was probably the final “prep” for the Republic Day (September 24) Trinidad Derby, for Big Thing, who finished third in the T&T Breeders Classic in his previous start after being the runner-up in the “Midsummer.”
Three winners were apparently not enough for Harding, who came back in the curtain event to prevail in another close finish as Prince Shival edged Finch by half-length in the 1,350-metre contest for horses rated 45 & lower.
Just before, Sacred Trust, handicapped to win the day’s feature, cruised home by 5 ½ lengths in the 1,300-metre contest for 90 & over rated horses with just 49.5 kilos in her saddle bags.
Stewards Cup winner Signal Alert, who had finished behind his fellow American-bred four-year-old in the last two meetings after beating her in their first two clashes, was second with the heavy burden of 58.5 kilos.
Early leader Smart American finished third with the penny-stamp of 45 kilos and the son of 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Smarty Jones was followed home by El Bandido De Oro, Skyline Pigeon King and King Whistler, respectively.
Readbetweendlines, one of the leading horses in the country last year, was expected to return here after being absent for over eight months. But fans will have to wait a little longer to see the American-bred four-year-old star as he as a late withdrawal.
Candy Man enhanced his already grand record when he won the second race, the 1,200-metre affair for 70-50 rated horses, by a facile 3 ¼ lengths.
The four-year-old, who is owned by champion owner Shivam Maharaj and bred by his father Kama, the former Arima Race Club president and current chairman of the Betting Levy Board, had now prevailed five times and also has three seconds and a third from 11 career outings.
Back On Top, who has been struggling since winning the 2010 Derby, ended up fifth after setting the early pace, and was followed home by Treasure Hunt, who has also been on the downslide since finished in the money in all three legs of the triple crown series that year.
The $200,000 Grade I Independence Cup for the top class stayers over 1,800 metres on the turf and the Oaks Stakes for West Indian-bred three-year-old fillies over the same distance will be feature attraction on the Independence Day holiday card.