Orville Clarke, Gleaner Writer
Having failed by a head to catch TOURING WITH RHEA over the distance on November 3, NUH VEX should go one better when he takes on 15 opponents in the Jamaica Racehorse Trainers' Association (JRTA) Trophy race over 1200 metres, feature event at Caymanas Park today.
Offering a total purse of $715,000, the race is confined to native bred three-year-olds.
This being the annual JRTA raceday, four trainers will be honoured. They are Harry Jaghai, Kingsley Rose, Michael Beecham and Phillip Elliott.
Each of the remaining 10 races has been named after a former president of the association - Ren Gonzalves, Lee Clarke, Philip Feanny, Roderick 'Pilot' Francis, Norris Scully, Percy Tomlinson and Howard McKenzie, to name a few.
Following his near miss in the Caymanas 3-Y-O Sprint, the Leroy Biggs-trained NUH VEX came back with another good effort in defeat on December 1 when a fast-finishing third to PRIESTKING over the straight five course, finishing a mere length behind the winner.
The son of War Marshall is not too heavy - with 56.0kg and in-form Shane Ellis aboard - to notch his second win of the season, especially with TOURING WITH RHEA boosting the form by winning again in high claiming company.
NUH VEX's main rivals are ROYAL BUD, who was a length behind him in fifth in the race won by TOURING WITH RHEA; TRULY EXPLOSIVE, who was a close up third in the same race; as well as VIBES MASTER, MENTALIST and MEROVINGIAN QUEEN.
MEROVINGIAN QUEEN ran her best race in months last Saturday when failing by a neck to stave off the fast-finishing AWESOME SENSATION in the Titania Trophy over 1100 metres and now back to good form, should be bang in contention at the end.
She, along with ROYAL BUD and the Wayne DaCosta-trained VIBES MASTER, should ensure that my selection, NUH VEX, is extended in the closing stages.
However, with lots of speed present in the form of CONCRETE JUNGLE, PREMIUM RETURNS, ZANZIBAR and ROYAL BUD, they should play into the hands of the fast-finishing NUH VEX.
Also on the card is the overnight allowance race over 1600 metres to be contested by 10 starters, including top contenders NYABINGHI and MIKENIFICENT, both American-bred horses.
Indications are it will come down to these two - MIKENIFICENT - to be ridden by champion jockey-designate Dane Nelson and NYABINGHI, with top apprentice Shamaree Muir.
The fact that the Peter McMaster's filly NYABINGHI steps down from open allowance to overnight company with a mere 52.0kg by virtue of Muir's 3.0kg claiming allowance makes her the one to beat.
I also like the well forward 2-y-o debutant WILLIE GOLDSMITH in the fourth race, CONFLICTOFINTEREST in the seventh and ARGUMENT DONE in the ninth.