Orville Clarke, Gleaner Writer
The American bred four-year-old colt, EMPEROR HALL, ridden by champion jockey Dick Cardenas for trainer Noel Ennevor, lowered the colours of the howling 1-9 favourite, MISMYRTLEBOYRICHIE, to win the 50th running of the Prime Minister's Stakes grade one feature over 2000 metres on yesterday's holiday card at Caymanas Park.
Fittingly, the 50th running of the PM Stakes coincided with the Jamaica 50 Independence celebrations and being an 'extra special' occasion, the promoters, in association with sponsors the L.P. Azar Group, went that extra mile to make it a memorable occasion for racing fans.
Despite attracting only five runners, the PM Stakes was quite competitive. The Lorne Kirlew-trained MISMYRTLEBOYRICHIE, bidding for his 11th consecutive win to move within sight of WAR ZONE'S 1996 record of 12 consecutive wins, was installed a howling favourite with four-time hot jockey Omar Walker again in the saddle. But the outstanding American four-year-old colt failed in his bid to give old rival EMPEROR HALL 7.0kg and went under by a length.
Held the lead
EMPEROR HALL (2-1) made virtually all. He was chased by topweight MISMYRTLEBOYRICHIE passing the stands for the first time, but held the lead even when LADY MACBETH came down sharply into second at the halfway stage to be right here on the inside approaching the half-mile.
MISMYRTLEBOYRICHIE was then bustled up by Walker leaving the half-mile and joined EMPEROR HALL approaching the final bend.
Both straightened on level terms and although 'MYRTLEBOY' pointed briefly on the outside from early in the straight, he drifted out off a true line allowing EMPEROR HALL to get back his head in front a furlong out. Responding to the left hand stick, he inched away to beat the 'big horse' by a length in the fairly good time of 2:06.3.
Ennevor said he was quietly confident that EMPEROR HALL, who won the valuable CTL Imported Mile last November, could reverse the tables on his recent conqueror on 7.0kg better terms.
'Ride a tactical race'
"I know I could beat him at the handicaps, especially going two turns," said the veteran trainer. "I didn't have any instructions for Cardenas ... I just told him to ride a tactical race. He put him in front and it worked out beautifully," added Ennevor.
Earlier in the afternoon, the 4-5 favourite PALACE GOLD ran on strongly in mid-stretch to win the Jamaica 50th Anniversary Trophy commemorative race over 1100 metres, for overnight allowance horses.
Ridden by in-form apprentice Robert Halledeen for trainer Howard Jaghai, PALACE GOLD won by 23/4 lengths from 8-5 second favourite, PALACE GUARD, in a field of seven.
On a day when musical entertainment was provided by George Nooks, Tinga Stewart and The Tamlins, Cardenas (Emperor Hall, She Can Preach), Shane Ellis (Uncle Ken, Kobalt) and leading jockey Dane Nelson (Perfect Flyer, Awesome Wildcat) shared the riding honours with two winners each, while trainer Patrick Lynch posted two (She Can Preach, Perfect Flyer).
AWESOME WILDCAT, highly fancied at 9-5, made all in the closing Independence Day Stakes Trophy for $180,000 claimers over a mile, notching his third win from his last four starts, this time for trainer Colin Ferguson.