Orville Clarke, Freelance Reporter
The Bomber stands in the winners' enclosure with jockey Shane Ellis aboard after winning the Easter Sprint Cup, the feature race at Caymanas Park yesterday. - Colin Hamilton/Freelance Photographer
Last year's Digicel Derby winner, THE BOMBER, made a triumphant return to Caymanas Park yesterday with an emphatic victory over the fleet-footed three-year-old colt MR SKILL in the overnight allowance feature for the Easter Sprint Cup at 1100 metres.
Installed a 6-5 second favourite with title-chasing jockey Shane Ellis riding for owner Rosiedoll and trainer Patrick Lynch, THE BOMBER swept past long-time leader and 4-5 favourite MR SKILL (Dane Nelson up) midway through the last furlong to beat him by three lengths in a field of 12. SMOOTHABILITY and HOOKEDONJAZZ were declared late non-starters.
Although racing for the first time since his close second to subsequent Horse of the Year DISTINCTLY IRISH in the Caymanas Track Limited (CTL) Gold Cup over 1400 metres on December 8, THE BOMBER was presented in peak condition.
He bided his time in third as the Wayne DaCosta-trained MR SKILL led at a fast clip from 48-1 outsider DANCING SAM, before going in chase of the leader approaching the 600-metre pole.
Torrid left hand stick
After turning for home a length and a half adrift, THE BOMBER gradually wore down MR SKILL, responding to a torrid left hand stick from early in the last furlong to win going away. SKYWAY EXPRESS, the 9-2 third favourite, finished a farther 2-1/2 lengths away third.
Ellis, who was notching his second consecutive feature race win following RAMPAGE in the Arthur Jones Memorial Cup on Saturday, said he knew he had MR SKILL measured leaving the furlong pole.
"To begin with the trainer said all I had to do was ride a smart race for he knows the type of jockey I am. When I turned for home right there in second, MR SKILL showed some fight, so I had to dig deep approaching the furlong pole. He really found his legs leaving the furlong pole and in the end won in the smart time of 1:05.4.
"He has trained on nicely from three to four-year-old and has more races to win provided he remains sound," said the 2000 champion jockey.
Bred by Cheryl and Kristi Marsh, THE BOMBER is a 4-y-o bay colt by Outrigger out of Nuttin But Red. This was his fourth win from only nine career starts with total stakes of $4.2 million.
In addition to THE BOMBER, Ellis also won aboard 4-5 favourite GAMBOA for trainer Anthony 'Baba' Nunes in the second race and MELINDAGATA by a nose at 3-1 in the ninth race, to rejoin suspended champion Omar Walker at the top of the jockeys' standings with 32 wins.
Ellis, however, was overshadowed by another title-chasing rider, Dane Nelson, who rode four winners on the 11-race holiday programme, including 8-5 favourite MAN OF HONOR who made all convincingly to win race number three in the CTL Claiming Series over 1200 metres. The winner was saddled by Steadman Curtis.
As a result of yesterday's four-timer Nelson, who rode two winners on Saturday as well, is only one behind Walker and Ellis, on 31.