Orville Clarke, Gleaner Writer
LIKKLE BIT, now dropped in class, should resume winning ways when he faces six opponents in the annual renewal of the Cecil C. Charlton Trophy over 1300 metres (claiming $550,000-$500,000) at Caymanas Park today.
LIKKLE BIT, reunited with favourite jockey Omar Walker for this race, finished down the track behind the American colt EMPEROR in overnight company on October 17 (Heroes Day) when contesting the Ace Supercentre Trophy over 1820 metres, a race in which he was only a length third to the winner at the half-mile.
Despite that unplaced effort, the six-year-old gelding from the stables of Dennis Lee will appreciate the drop in class, having won back-to-back races over 1400 metres and 1600 metres on August 27 and September 10, respectively.
LIKKLE BIT beat AWESOME MARQUE by two lengths over 1400 metres in the first of those races on a $500,000 claiming tag. He then followed up at the expense of GUAN YU, winning by 31/2 lengths on a $550,000 claiming tag.
AWESOME MARQUE, who has since chased home REGAL SENSATION over 1820 metres in high-claiming company, looms as a live danger with in-form Dane Nelson retaining the ride. The five-year-old gelding is also 2.0kg better off.
In addition to the Carl Anderson-trained AWESOME MARQUE, LIKKLE BIT can expect worthwhile opposition from the free-running RIVER STYX, with title-chasing jockey Dick Cardenas riding for in-form trainer Patrick Lynch, along with ELOPING EMMA, who has won twice since June 22, the first of these wins over today's trip.
LIKKLE BIT, however, is back among his peers to vie for this trophy and stepping down to the convenient mark of 55.0kg, should stave off old rival AWESOME MARQUE.
Elsewhere on the programme, joint leading rider Dick Cardenas, who starts the day locked with Shane Ellis on 84 wins in their intense battle for the jockeys' title, should win the second race over 1100 metres aboard BUSY.
The four-year-old filly from the stables of Steadman Curtis showed good speed when beaten into third place by CLASSY KELLY over 1300 metres on October 8, and with nothing outstanding in the nine-horse field, should win at the expense of Omar Walker's mount EVER BLESSED.
Other firm fancies on the nine-race programme are WIN BRACELET to make amends for her near miss against NEVER GIVE UP recently by winning the fourth race for maiden three-year-olds; UNCLE KEN in the fifth; TANTALOO with Ellis aboard to go one better in the sixth for two-year-olds; and late-kicking RED FLAG to catch RIGHT MARKER in the knotty 1300-metre race for native and imported three-year-olds.