Final Analysis For Saturday, December 24, 2022

Jockey Roger Hewitt (left) and trainer Robert Ffrench.
Jockey Roger Hewitt (left) and trainer Robert Ffrench.

KINGSTON, Jamaica - The opening event was important for champion Anthony Thomas seeking to defend his status and add a fourth title to his impressive resume. His mount Military Shot (2-1), trained by Steven Todd, did not have the best of starts but mended steadily over the 1,300 metres, to lead in the final strides, scoring by just under one length.

At the start of the nine-race programme, Thomas with a season tally of 92 was facing a deficit of four winners with his main rival for 2022 honours Dane Dawkins. In the succeeding hour, Thomas had his effort to make further in-roads into Dawkins’ advantage stymied in bizarre circumstances.

In race two, Sharp Skirt, 3-5 favourite, a mare on which Thomas had won no fewer than four races previously, returned to her occasional habit of refusing to race.

In the event, Adwa (5-1) ridden by Youville Pinnock for conditioner Ray Phillips was best by over five lengths in 1,200-metre gallop.

As if that was not enough, Thomas was confronted with an extraordinary problem aboard Bazinga (1-9) in race three when the two-year-filly was spooked when her starting gate on opening malfunctioned. The left side flew back inward striking her face on the left thereby causing the filly to rear and therefore left with no chance. The age-group event, run over the 1,000 metres of the straight course, was won by Pigglie Wigglie (Samantha Fletcher) at odds of 9-2 for trainer Patrick Fong.

Thomas did not have a mount in the 1,600-metre race four and had to watch from the confines of the jockeys’ room as Dawkins restored his lead aboard with Bern Notice (4-5) conditioned by Gary Subratie scoring by just under two lengths. However, it was vintage Thomas in race five restricted to three-year-old maidens and run over 1,200 metres.

From a prominent position, just behind the leaders at the top of the home stretch of the 1,200-metre fifth race gallop restricted to three-year-old maidens, Thomas got Patrick Smellies’s Principal Tiffany (7-1) to challenge long-time leader King Air (Omar Walker) successfully 200 metres out.

However, having only her second racecourse appearance and obviously lacking experience she edged left. Bebeto Harvey aboard chief rival Asurety anticipating what he thought was a likely collision on his course between these rivals pulled out to deliver his challenge on the outside.

Thomas had to be concerned when the inevitable Steward’s Inquiry lasted nearly ten minutes before the “no change to the order of the finish” announcement was intoned by the track announcer.

Not having mounts in the 800-metre race six both protagonists, Dawkins and Thomas were spectators. They watched as most improved rider of the 2022 racing year Roger Hewitt, for the first of his riding double brought owner/trainer Fernando Geddes’ nine-year-old horse Explosive Charge (9-1) with a late charge to deny even-money favourite Boss Izzy by a head.

In race seven over 1,820 metres it turned out to be Dawkins’ time to suffer misfortune. Right at the start his mount Longie Lala darted left into the far rails and left the hapless leading rider on the sand of the track’s surface. On the other hand, Thomas’ mount Omron, owned and trained by Joseph Thomas delivered a runaway of more than seven lengths as the 4-5 favourite.

Interestingly at the time of writing, with three race cards remaining in the 2022 racing year both Dawkins and Thomas, on 97 and 95 wins respectively could make it the first time in local racing history for two reinsmen to win at least 100 races each in the same season.

Joint features on the day were the 1,000-metre straight Jamaica Racehorse Trainers Association won by Ultimate Machine (7-1) trained by Robert Ffrench to close jockey Hewitt’s two-timer and the Betmakers Holiday Bonanza Trophy #2 by US-bred Luksol (Robert Halledeen) for 2022 champion trainer-designate Jason DaCosta.

The Training Feat Award is presented to Robert Ffrench for the improvement in the form of three-year-old Ultimate Machine who won on his belated debut on October 17 and outsprinted a strong field of non-winners of two races to remain undefeated with today’s Best Winning Gallop. Anthony Thomas earns the Jockeyship Award for his superb handling of the inexperienced Principal Tiffany.


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