Marvellous Mellisa bags feature
FEMALE apprentice Mellisa Ward returned to the winners' enclosure amid rousing applause yesterday after getting MARVELLOUS MARVA to last home by a head from HOVER CRAFT, ridden by six-time champion jockey Omar Walker, in the 1820-metre Mark My Word Trophy.
Handed the biggest ride of her career by trainer Philip Feanny, who saw value in her three-kilo apprentice claim, Ward bullied Walker at the clubhouse turn to claim the rail and dictated the pace down the backstretch.
Ward kicked on MARVELLOUS MARVA a half-mile out, leaving HOVER CRAFT flat-footed and UNCLE TAF to pick up the chase.
MARVELLOUS MARVA straightened two lengths clear of UNCLE TAF and responded well when asked to run by Ward, who expertly changed her whip from right to left in the stretch run, keeping the in-form mare running strongly on the lead.
HOVER CRAFT, however, came with a late charge down along the rail, inside the final half-furlong, to lunge at MARVELLOUS MARVA with the winning post fast approaching.
Ward, at this stage, abandoned her whip and got down to basics, pushing MARVELLOUS MARVA to the wire while Walker tried his best to get HOVER CRAFT's head in front.
MARVELLOUS MARVA, however, was resolute and got the decisive bow, handing Ward her 15th and most memorable career win after two years and eight months in the saddle.
Vastly improved since the back end of last season, five-year-old MARVELLOUS MARVA has now won five of her last seven starts, including a hat-trick recorded between last year November and January.
Owned by 2 Penyu, the inform mare clocked 1:57.0 and will return to grade one after getting a baptism of fire in her first race at the level, beaten by WILL IN CHARGE and SHE'S A MANEATER in a stakes record-breaking performance on May 21.
Meanwhile, LOOSE CANNON, a February 10 claim, for $550,000, upset rivals at odds of 9-1 on his second start for trainer Errol Waugh in the 1200-metre Labour Day Trophy.
The four-year-old chestnut colt made all in a fast 1:12.2 to give veteran jockey Talbert Howell his first winner back on local soil after plying his trade for years on the North American circuit.
Anthony Nunes won back-to-back races, STRIKE IT LUCKY and KJ EXPRESS in the ninth and 10th races, respectively, to shave DaCosta's lead atop the trainers' standings to approximately $600,000 entering Saturday's Lotto Classic Governor's Cup race meet.
Shane Ellis was the day's top jock, booting home two winners, LAWS OF THE CODE and SURE STEP, but remained nine adrift leading rider, apprentice Anthony Thomas, who kept his strike rate going with a smooth victory astride HOLOGRAM SHADOW in the fifth.