Ellis bags three at the track
Title-chasing jockey Shane Ellis highlighted yesterday's meet at Caymanas Park with three winners to emerge joint leader with four-time champion Omar Walker who rode one winner on both days of the back-to-back race meets.
After failing to ride a winner on Saturday's 11-race programme, Ellis returned yesterday to win the co-feature events with 3-2 favourite FRANFIELD for trainer Richard Azan and 4-5 favourite FORCE DE JOUR for Anthony 'Baba' Nunes in the Ren Gonzalves Memorial Cup over 2000 metres for overnight allowance horses and the Sports Journalists of Jamaica (claiming $350,000-$300,000) over 1200 metres, respectively.
Ellis also won the fourth race aboard 6-5 favourite BLUE EYE BOY, the 4-y-o colt squeezing home by a short head from BATTLE SONG on the inside.
As a result of yesterday's three-timer, Ellis has not only moved ahead of long-time leader Robert Halledeen (38) who did not ride over the past two racedays due to a minor injury, but ended the weekend on 39 wins to be level with Walker who rode one winner, BIG GEORGE who romped the fifth race over 1200 metres as the 1-2 favourite.
Ellis said he only needs to keep his focus to win his first championship since 2000.
" Right now I am injury-free and riding confidently as stable jockey for trainer Anthony Nunes. I am also securing live rides from some small stables and all that combined with the will to become champion again, should work in my favour during the second half of the year.
With the season having marked its halfway stage yesterday, the race for the jockeys' championship could not be closer with Ellis and Walker tied on 39, one ahead of Halledeen who is scheduled to resume riding this Saturday.
Nunes, his former assistant Donovan 'Burru' Thompson and 14-time champion Wayne DaCosta shared the training honours with two winners each, the Nunes-trained 16-1 outsider LORD STORM having to survive a stewards inquiry and jockeys' objection from Omar Walker after passing the post first in a close finish.
Meanwhile, female jockey Georgina Sergeon romped the closing race aboard the DaCosta-trained 2-1 chance MIND SET, her first winner this season.