Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Bittersweet win for trainer DaCosta

Published:Sunday | April 3, 2016 | 4:00 AMOrville Clarke
PERFECT NEIGHBOUR (left), with Omar Walker aboard, going past UPPA TUNE (Bebeto Harvey) to win the Lady Geeta Trophy over 1200 metres at Caymanas Park yesterday.

The 21st running of the Lady Geeta Trophy grade one feature over 1200 metres provided a bittersweet experience for champion trainer Wayne DaCosta, who, despite winning with 7-2 chance PERFECT NEIGHBOUR, said he was shocked when stable-companion and 3-5 favourite POKER STAR decked jockey Robert Halledeen at the start.

"It was nerve-racking", recalled the 15-champion trainer. "Although my other horse, Perfect Neighbour, made up for the disappointment by scoring a narrow win, what was more important was that neither Poker Star nor the jockey was injured," he added.

Bidding for his sixth consecutive win, POKER STAR pitched from the outside post position (No. 6) on leaving the gates and dislodged Halledeen, much to the horror of racing fans who had installed the reigning champion sprinter a howling favourite to win his third trophy event from as many races this season.

PERFECT NEIGHBOUR, ridden by four-time champion jockey Omar Walker for co-owners Alfred Lee and Jeffery Mordecai, broke well to chase the tearaway leader UPPA TUNE (5-2) with apprentice Bebeto Harvey into the straight, closing strongly in the last 100 metres to overhaul the consistent US-bred horse, winning by three-quarter length. The 2014 sprint champion POTCHEEN, highly fancied at 5-2, finished third after failing to go the early pace.

Winner of the derby and St. Leger as a three-year-old in 2013 and voted the champion stayer of 2015, PERFECT NEIGHBOUR has now won 15 races from 36 starts lifetime with total stakes of just over $21 million. The 6-y-o horse, by Natural Selection out of Desperatehousewife, was bred by Y.S. (1955) Limited.

The season's first classics, the Post to Post 1000 and 2000 Guineas over 1600 metres, will both be run this Saturday, April 9.