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Azan's Piscean Rocket For Boxing Day Feature
Orville Clarke, Gleaner Writer
The hectic two-year-old campaign comes to a close at Caymanas Park today with the $4.25 million Supreme Ventures Jamaica Two-Year-Old Stakes over 1600 metres taking the spotlight.
The race, the third and final in the $11.7 million Supreme Ventures 2-Y-O Series which began in October, has attracted 14 starters, including top contenders ROYAL VIBES, PERFECT NEIGHBOUR, PISCEAN ROCKET, EL NUMERO UNO and DOC HOLIDAY.
A notable absentee is the Owen Sharpe-trained UNCLE TAF, who is unbeaten in two starts, having won the first race in the series, the Cash Pot 'Only One For Me' Trophy over 1200 metres on October 13.
UNCLE TAF was installed favourite for race two in the series, the $3.6 million Pick-3 Super Challenge Trophy over 1400 metres on November 24, but had to be withdrawn by the vet after acting up in the gate and injuring himself.
Reports indicate that all was not right with UNCLE TAF in his preparation (lightly trained) for this prestigious race, hence his absence. With UNCLE TAF out, the race is even more interesting, especially with four-time champion jockey Omar Walker now switching to the unbeaten PISCEAN ROCKET in his absence.
The big chestnut colt by Traditional out of the Outrigger mare Starry Eyes, who made an impressive debut over the round five course on November 28, is one of three challengers from the stables of Richard Azan. But he appears to have a touch of class and now better for that initial effort, is confidently expected to fight out the finish.
Another saddled by azan
Azan will also saddle the useful DOC HOLIDAY under leading all-time jockey Winston Griffiths and also BORDER LINE with smart apprentice Shamaree Muir slated.
The Azan horses are pitted against a dangerous trio from the stables of champion trainer Wayne DaCosta, comprising PERFECT NEIGHBOUR and ROYAL VIBES, respective winner and runner-up of the Pick-3 Super Challenge Trophy race, as well as HOVER CRAFT who was third in the same race enabling DaCosta to sweep the event.
The race is shaping up to be a clash of wills between DaCosta and Azan, but 14-time champion Philip Feanny could crash their party with EL NUMERO UNO, who will not only love the distance but is in good nick.
The race should decide who is the season's best and also establish a winter book favourite for next year's classics.
DaCosta, who is safely on course to win a 12th trainers' title and his eighth in a row, must have high hopes for PERFECT NEIGHBOUR, who came from a seemingly hopeless position under the promising 4.0kg claiming apprentice Orlando Foster early stages to beat his more fancied stable-companion ROYAL VIBES in a driving finish for the Super Challenge Trophy. Foster is again declared to ride PERFECT NEIGHBOUR and Dane Nelson, ROYAL VIBES.
First time Lasix certainly helped the cause of PERFECT NEIGHBOUR, who displayed a rare turn of foot up the lane after missing the break. He will be tough, but PISCEAN ROCKET did run a bit green when winning on November 28 and now trained to the minute, ought to be followed.
The big holiday card will also feature the 50th running of the Harry Jackson Memorial Cup grade one race over 2400 metres. This should provide the country's best distance horse, three-time Superstakes winner MARK MY WORD, with his second consecutive win, having won it by the proverbial city block last year with 'Fanna' Griffiths aboard.