NOTE FROM QUICKGALLOP.COM – The following article and photo were first published in the Trinidad Guardian
General JN with Dillon Khelawan aboard gave an impressive performance in Saturday’s feature Modified Benchmark Handicap over 1,500 metres on the turf at Santa Rosa Park, Arima.
The Glenn Mendez trained six-year-old chestnut horse was grand in his debut on the turf on New Year’s Day in the Sian’s Gold Sprint and was even more splendid on Saturday, when running out an easy five-length winner from the former Sprint Champion Early Bird, with Tiz A Vibe back in third spot.
Punters made the reigning Champion sprinter/stayer Making Headlines the favourite to win on his turf debut but the John O’Brien trained five-year-old disappointed bitterly. Making Headlines last season won his four races in succession including the Stewards Cup and Gold Cup.
Mendez, when asked about the performance of the Jerry Narace-owned six-year-old horse which was sent off as the 7-5 second favourite, said, “He won as well as was expected. After winning on the turf on New Year’s Day, he ran another superb race again. Really, I will not go overboard about the success because it was a race where I thought only three horses would figure.
“Looking back now, you would realise that Making Headlines was racing on the surface for the first time. So that could have gone anyway. Then there was Early Bird which was attempting to stretch out in the event after sprinting for much of his career. The other horses were coming back from long lay-offs and I expected him to win as he did.”
Asked about the plans for General JN, who is now two-for-two on the turf course, Mendez confided, “I will have to look at what races we can go for in March, I should have that document by next week and a decision will be taken.
“Racing on the turf or main track will not make a difference, as he was second in the Stewards Cup and third in the Gold Cup and has now won two races in the turf track. Therefore, he will go on any surface, he is resilient, we just have to wait and see what options we have.”
Mendez thought that Khelawan used his initiative in the event, saying: “Khelawan broke him quickly but no one wanted to make the pace and he used his initiative and went to the front and dictated the event. He rode him confidently and quickened the pace 500m out and no one had an answer. He handled him really well.”
General JN recorded the time of 1:32.39 for the trip.
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