KINGSTON, Jamaica – There was major change of personnel with the departure of director of racing Christopher Armond, whose emotional farewell has been a huge talking point as he ended his fourth and possibly final tour of duty spanning three different promoting companies for over four decades.
Denzil Miller Jr makes a return to the chair in the racing office and the suggestion from the Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited board is that the direction in which the company needs to go in terms of digital and other pending initiatives renders Armond, an outstanding commentator turned administrator, surplus to future requirements hence his premature retirement.
Portion, ridden by improving apprentice Roger Hewitt, stayed on well to win the opening event for trainer Leroy Tomlinson.
Thought to be a short runner, Hewitt made sure to reserve her speed for the finish of the 1400 metres gallop and won by three parts of a length in a driving finish to get racing year 2021 off to a start.
In terms of being favoured at the handicaps, Miss Hazel took full advantage to be over four lengths clear of her nearest rival in the second event.
Ridden by Ryan Lewis, the five-year-old mare ensured that trainer Leroy Tomlinson had the perfect annual start by saddling the winners of the first double event bet of the year.
Champion apprentice Oshane Nugent got his year off to a winning start in the afternoon’s third scoring narrowly but decisively with the three-year-old maiden Broken Flight owned and trained by Gary Griffiths.
In the day’s fourth, veteran conditioner Michael Beecham posted Dr Banner, in form and unlikely to be defeated, and reinsman Paul “Country” Francis had no difficulty ensuring this was the case.
Race five reminded the customers of the persistent shortcomings of the promoters of horse racing from inception.
Apprentice Jordan Barret guided trainer Tensang Chung’s maiden filly Gorgeous Gift to what he thought was a two-length victory margin.
The disqualification of Gorgeous Gift elevated the Edward Stanberry-trained Jolly’s Dream to first place, to give 2020 champion Christopher Mamdeen his first of two wins on the day.
There was no announcement, but there was an objection by the clerk of the scales and following a stewards inquiry the horse was disqualified for failing to draw the correct weight.
Objections by this official usually have a 100 per cent success rate since the rule is clear and in terms of how much less than the handicap weight is acceptable.
In this case it was an intolerable two kilogrammes less than the allotment.
In the sixth event, being hindered 900 metres out was no obstacle for Generational (Omar Walker) as the four-year-old produced a strong late run to give vacationing champion trainer Anthony Nunes his first win of the new season.
Top-flight trainer Gary Subratie also had a satisfactory beginning to his 2021 challenge, as frequently raced three-year-old-maiden Sure Curlin responded to the strong persuasion of Robert Halledeen to score in the seventh.
An hour later, Subratie combined with Mamdeen to confirm two wins for each with Crimson’s return to form by outstaying nine rivals to win the eighth, whilst journeyman Devon A Thomas, riding for conditioner Anthony Subratie, was all alone over eight lengths clear at the end of the ninth feature and final event the Fan Appreciation Day Trophy, run over the circular 1820-metre course.
The Training Feat Award is presented to Gary Subratie for the return to form of Crimson, and the five-year-old now owned by The Success Farm delivered the Best Winning Gallop with Christopher Mamdeen awarded the Jockeyship Award for his early patience and finding a run against the far rails when it mattered.