By Orville Clarke, Freelance Writer
ECSTATIC (Winston Griffiths) romps the WITRA Distaff over 1800 metres in post to post fashion at Caymanas Park last Saturday, winning by 3 1/2 lengths at odds of 4-1. The 5-y-o grey mare was one of three winners for trainer Philip Feanny on the card. - Ian Allen/Staff Photographer
THE FEATURE event at Caymanas Park today is the $390,000 - $330,000 claiming race for the J.W. 'Judge' Hardie Memorial Cup over 1600 metres for which eight starters have been declared.
With good recent form present and the competition expected to be close, only EMPERADOR and WAKONDA could be overlooked, especially the latter who has never been effective over a distance of ground and will be outclassed as well.
EMPERDOR, though, has good pace and given his light impost, should keep them honest for a long way.
As far as pace is concerned, RESTLESS WARRIOR will more than likely set off in front under in-form jockey Shane Ellis. The six-year-old gelding has won two of his last four races, the more recent in muddy conditions on November 1 when staving off CASTAGNA by a length over 1200 metres.
He was then claimed from champion trainer Wayne DaCosta by trainer Richard Donaldson on behalf of Kissamee. Despite this the son of Restless Thief Lady Anandi is still very fit.
Given this milder pace and his ability to get a mile, RESTLESS WARRIOR, who had previously won over 1400 metres on September 10, will have to be caught from his convenient mark of 54.0kg.
Also reporting under new management is the highly-fancied PROCEEDACCORDINGLY, who was claimed for $320,000 from Dalton Lawrence by trainer Patrick Fong on behalf of Owners' Association president, Laurence Heffes, on October 29.
PROCEEDACCORDINGLY (tongue tie off) had gone real close over 1700 metres that day, failing by a nose to force a triple dead heat with FRIENDLY EXPRESS and ZEEDON who reopposes today.
That was the seven-year-old gelding's first outing in over three months and now that much sharper, could well recoup losses with a mile right up his street. Former champion jockey Charles Hussey again has the ride.
Also expected to run well is DANCING FLAMES who failed narrowly to complete a hat-trick of wins on October 25 when beaten by ZEEDON over the circular nine course. Now assured of stronger handling from Clive Lynch, DANCING FLAMES is poised to go close from the convenient mark of 52.0kg.
The one I like best, however, is RED GENERAL who beat RESTLESS WARRIOR and EMPERADOR rather convincingly over 1500 metres on October 8 in the fairly good time of 1:33.1.
Although having changed stables since, moving from Richie Todd to Garrett Arscott, RED GENERAL reports in good nick and with little to fear from the present opposition, should prove hard to deny with 53.0kg and Panamanian jockey Ameth Robles in the saddle.
Since winning on October 8, RED GENERAL found PITTACUS and overnight company too good when finishing fourth in a fast run 1500-metre race on October 20 and now back among his peers, should win from PROCEEDACCORDINGLY and RESTLESS WARRIOR.
Other firm fancies on the card are MY DEAR TUDOR to catch old rival BLACKMOUTH in the 5th, RAZZAK to romp in the 6th, SIR ABBAS MANGAL over WARRIOR and SUMO in the 7th and the down in class CLASSY TANYA to upstage RESTLESS PIRATE and TIME AND AGAIN in the ninth.