One-two for Hamilton
Former champion owner Howard Hamilton was a happy man at Caymanas Park on Wednesday after watching his two horses, CAMPESINO, and CRUCIAL APPEAL, finish first and second, respectively, in the three-year-old and up open allowance feature over 1100 metres.
Coming from different stables, both six-year-old geldings dominated the action, with 3-1 chance CRUCIAL APPEAL leading at a fast clip into the straight following a 10-month layoff, and 1-2 favourite CAMPESINO running on strongly in the last furlong to catch and beat his lesser fancied stable-companion by two lengths.
Ridden by top apprentice Linton Steadman for 14-time champion trainer Philip Feanny, CAMPESINO covered the distance in the smart time of 1:04.3 behind splits of 22.3 and 45.3. But while Hamilton conceded that the much-raced CAMPESINO was "race fit" and the one to beat on current form, Hamilton was delighted with the performance of the Dwight Chen-trained CRUCIAL APPEAL with Shane Ellis up.
"I was particularly pleased with the performance of CRUCIAL APPEAL after the long absence due to injury. In fact, at one stage early in the straight, he looked likely to hold Campesino at bay, but top-weight of 57.0kg and the lack of a recent outing took its toll in the latter stages.
"He went down fighting nonetheless and what I am happy about is that he will be a lot better for the run. He's a proven grade-one horse, having won the Lady Geeta Trophy over six furlongs a year ago, and I am expecting him to take his rightful place at the top level in the months ahead," said Hamilton, who added that he was looking forward to a clash with reigning champion sprinter POKER STAR.
Meanwhile, the recent 2000 Guineas runner-up ORPHEUS, ridden by Shane Ellis for trainer Anthony 'Baba' Nunes, did his derby and Governor's Cup (Lotto Classic) classic prospects a world of good with a facile victory over the Guineas third CHACE THE GREAT in the restricted stakes for native-bred three-year-olds over 1820 metres.
Always prominent, ORPHEUS, a 3-5 favourite, caught up with long-time leader CHACE THE GREAT at the final bend and moved away to beat him by 71/2 lengths in the good time of 1:54.3.