Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Poker Star again

Published:Sunday | February 21, 2016 | 2:00 AMOrville Clarke

POKER STAR confirmed his status as the country's top sprinter at Caymanas Park yesterday with an emphatic victory in the annual renewal of the Eileen Cliggott Memorial Trophy over 1300 metres, the season's first grade one trophy race.

Installed a 4-5 favourite with four-time champion Omar Walker riding him for the first time, the classy 4-y-o colt from the stables of 15-champion trainer Wayne DaCosta won by 1 3/4 lengths from PHINEAS (7-2) under former champion Wesley Henry with old rival CAMPESINO (Paul Francis up) in third.

Breaking smartly from the number-one post position, POKER STAR led briefly before giving way to the highly fancied American-bred UPPA TUNE (2-1) under champion jockey Shane Ellis. He came back strongly to dispose of topweight UPPA TUNE and, on entering the straight, quickened impressively to win going away.

Owned by Alexander Haber and bred by Y.S. (1955) Limited, POKER STAR a 4-y-o bay gelding by Liquidity out of Buyabook, was notching his fourth consecutive win and his third over this trip since May of last year. In between, he won the November 14 Caribbean Sprint Championship and more recently, the St Catherine Cup open allowance race over 1100 metres on January 2. DaCosta said POKER STAR did what was expected of him ... and more.

"He was ridden with some degree of patience, having to run from the number one post position, but there was a lot to like about the manner in which he found another gear when PHINEAS came on the scene a furlong out, and so long as he remains healthy, he won't be beaten for now," said DaCosta.