|Race Day Review Day 33 Saturday 15th September 2012|
ARIMA RACE CLUB
Harding soars to 1,000 winners
COMPLETING a milestone is usually a pain-staking process, but it was not that way for Brian Harding at Santa Rosa Park, Arima. After failing to find the winners’ enclosure for the last two race days, the multiple champion jockey booted home half of the eight winners during the 33rd round of the Arima Race Club’s 2012 Season to join a very select bunch of Caribbean riders to reach 1,000 winners in the saddle. Harding, who was crowned champion jockey in the first five years of centralisation (in 1994) and four other occasions since then, achieved the milestone aboard D’Sportsman in the sixth event at about 4.15 p.m. Panamanian Nobel Abrego, who had already ridden the majority of his winners when he first came here, became the first rider to join the 1,000 club at Santa Rosa a couple years ago. But the only Caribbean-based West Indian riders other than Harding to achieve the tremendous feat were Barbadians Challenor Jones and Venice Richards in the 1980s and Winston Griffiths. This Jamaican began his career in the mid-70s and is still going strong as he had reached 1,615 winners when last season’s action concluded at Caymanas Park, Jamaica, on Boxing Day (December 26). At 49, Harding is four years younger that Griffiths, but he is also proving that there is still plenty left in the tank after over 30 years in the saddle. And there could not have been a better example than the one he gave us on the race day before the Republic Day on September 24.
Harding will be aboard expected favourite Onetokeep in the $500,000 CNG Trinidad Derby during the holiday card and it would have been the perfect script for him to have reached the treasured landmark by winning the most prestigious event on the calendar. But I’m sure he not complaining too much after enjoying one of his best days in the saddle in many years at Santa Rosa Park. It began right away as Harding pushed 7/1 shot Gold Dust to a commanding 8 ¼-length triumph over favourite Devika Rani for owner Krishnarine Singh in the 1,350-metre opening event for West Indian-bred three-year-old maidens to move to 997. Two races later the veteran thwarted another favourite when he guided Stephan Narinesingh’s Cordell Walker, sent off at odds of 7/2, to victory by 1 ¼ lengths over the odds-on Be Precise in the 1,200-metre affair for 55-35 rated horses. And right after, Harding relegated the top choice in the betting to the bridesmaid position for the third time when he and Nyron Dookeran’s 3/1 chance Prado’s Princess combined to defeat Seal The Deal by the same (1 ¼ lengths) margin in the 1,600-metre event for 45 & lower rated horses.
Trainer Harriram Gobin had provided Harding with his three winners to date, but the man popularly known as “Pepsi” did not have another entrant for the day and Emmanuel Miller stepped in and got his name into the history books. After finished third with last year’s Champion Three-Year-Old Creole Filly B’s Passion in the fifth race, Harding reached the magical moment in the next when he and D’Sportsman held off fast-finishing long shot Ring The Bell by a head in the second division of the 1,100-metre turf contest for 60-40 rated horses. Ring The Bell, facing the starter for the first time since Boxing Day, is also trained by Miller and owned by Charles James, who was listed as the owner of D’Sportsman until his previous appearance on Independence Day (August 31). The American-bred three-year-old, who was sent off at odds of 3/1 for his first triumph in 13 career outings, is now owned by Godwin Lindsay. Harding, who punched the air in delight when D’Sportsman hit the finish line, was honoured afterwards in the winners’ enclosure and Richards, a fellow member of the “1,000 club”, and ARC chief executive officer Christopher Armond were among those present to celebrate his magnificent achievement.
Harding paid special tribute to the late legendary trainer Eric “Colt” Durant as well as all the other trainers and owners who assisted him along the way. Also among those he recognised were his parents, who have been present at the various tracks throughout his career. Earlier this year it seemed like Harding would have had to wait until well into next season to reach the four-figure club as he went through a drought which was so dry that he was only able to land one winner in the two-month period between taking the Midsummer Classic on Indian Arrival Day (May 30) and the inaugural Trinidad & Tobago Breeders Classic on Emancipation Day (August 1) with Onetokeep. But after reaching 990 with the “Breeders Classic” win, Harding has been like a man possessed, winning twice the very race day (August 18) and then four times in an eight-race card the following Saturday. Fans must have been thinking that the drought was coming back when he drew blanks in the previous two days before this unforgettable four-timer got him over the finish line. The day was not only about Brian Harding as Boogie Blues returned to form with a 1 ¾-length victory against 85 & over rivals over 1,750 metres in the day’s penultimate and feature attraction.
Last year’s Gold Cup winner, ridden by three-kilo claimer Dillon Khelawan instead of Nicholas Patrick, was racing for only the fifth time this season and was finishing in the money for the first time since he was third in his seasonal debut at the end of February in the Arima Race Club Cup. Strikes Not Spares, who lost that Grade II contest by a short head and won the Grade II President’s Cup at odds of over 50/1 when he last faced the starter in July, was only fourth on this occasion. The American-bred four-year-old finished 1 ¼ lengths adrift of rank outsider Sam’s Hero, who had finished third in the Guineas and Derby and won the Midsummer Classic two years ago. The other “creole” involved was sent off as the favourite, but Galveston finished a disappointing fifth of seven after last year’s “Midsummer” and Derby runner-up had placed in the top two in his last nine starts on the main course. Just Call Me Roger, who had been triumphant when Galveston made his turf debut and finished fourth in the Grade I Independence Cup on August 31, followed and Lang Amour brought up the rear.
Silverleo, who made a successful return after a break of almost four months last time out on August 18, ended up a neck in front of Sam’s Hero in second. Two races earlier, Golden Dixieland had gotten the better of Go For The Gold – who had lost the Derby by a short-head and finished fourth in the other two legs of the 2010 Triple Crown (Guineas and Midsummer Classic) – by a head, while B’s Passion was another ¾-length back in the 1,300-metre contest for 90-70 rated horses. Racing continues on Republic Day when the Diamond Stakes and the Derby will be in the spotlight. Three-time defending Horse of the Year Bruceontheloose, Stewards Cup winner Signal Alert and Ignition Coil could be in the field of top class horses in the Grade II 1,350-metre ‘Diamond.’ In addition to Onetokeep, the field of West Indian-bred three-year-old set to compete over 2,000 in the Derby could contain the likes of Big Thing, runner-up in both the Easter Guineas and Midsummer Classic, as well as Oaks Stakes heroine The Big Squeeze and Free Passage, unbeaten from four starts on the main course.
|Last Updated ( Thursday, 20 September 2012 10:45 )|