Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Orpheus primed for Lotto Classic

Published:Saturday | May 28, 2016 | 5:00 AMOrville Clarke
Horseracing at Caymanas Park – May 23, 2016 TWO STEPS UP, with apprentice Hakeem Pottinger aboard, sprints to a Three and three-quarter LENGTH victory over CONCUR (left), with Linton Steadman, in a restricted allowance race for native breds five-year-old and upwards, 1200 metres, at Caymanas Park on Monday.

THE 76th running of the Lotto Classic for the Governor's Cup over 2000 metres takes centre stage at Caymanas Park today, with 12 native bred three-year-olds slated to face the starter, including ante-post favourite ORPHEUS.

Of significance is the fact that all three classic winners so far this season have bypassed the race. They are the Post to Post 2000 Guineas winner, FUTURE KING, the 1000 Guineas winner, NUCLEAR AFFAIR, as well as the Caribbean Choice Oaks winner, A THOUSAND STARS.

Still, there is enough talent in the quartet of ORPHEUS, CHACE THE GREAT, BIGDADDYKOOL and not least, the progressive roan gelding, MR. DOITBETTA, to ensure keen competition.

Topline trainer Anthony 'Baba' Nunes holds a particularly strong hand with ORPHEUS and BIGDADDYKOOL, second and fourth, respectively, to FUTURE KING in the April 9 Post to Post 2000 Guineas over a mile.

There was a lot to like about the manner in which ORPHEUS came home in the Guineas, closing real fast on FUTURE KING in the dying stages to lose by a length, with the front running CHACE THE GREAT close up in third.

ON the strength of that performance, ORPHEUS, with big-race jockey Shane Ellis retaining the ride, should start a firm favourite, especially after his fast-time runaway win over CHACE THE GREAT at 1820 metres on May 11 when clocking 1:54.3.

ORPHEUS (56.0kg) is expected to have the measure of topweight CHACE THE GREAT over this trip once again, while he strikes me as a better horse at this stage than stable companion BIGDADDYKOOL.

The big headache for ORPHEUS comes in the form of the Lorenzo Robinson-trained, owned and bred MR. DOITBETTA, who is coming off back-to-back runaway wins going two turns.

The son of Vibank-Olympic Advice has looked better and better in recent months, culminating in his 13-length victory over BABY P at 1820 metres on April 24, clocking a decent 1:57.2 in the process; and could be anything.

Trainer Robinson is expressing supreme confidence in MR. DOITBETTA, claiming his charge "has not only looked sharp at exercise, but is conveniently placed in the scales with 53.0kg to carry the fight successfully, as he stays forever".

The trainer has seen it fit to stick with the promising apprentice, Hakeem Pottinger, noting that the second generation rider knows him best, having won back-to-back races with him in recent weeks.

Despite his good claims, one cannot lose sight of the fact that ORPHEUS has turned in two quality performances on the last two occasions and remembering his 1:54.3, Elias Haloute's chestnut colt by Adore The Gold out of La Reina should use the Lotto Classic as a stepping stone to derby glory.

Other firm fancies on the 12-race programme - which commences at 11:15 a.m. - are champion sprinter POKER STAR to win the $1.5 million Lotto Sprint Trophy; EL CLIENTE in the opening Lotto Championship Trophy; BATIDOR DE MUNDO in the second; RUBY ROSE to go one better in the sixth; as well as BIRD CATCHER in the ninth; and ALL CORRECT in the 12th and final.