Orville Clarke, Gleaner Writer
This year's Derby winner, PERFECT NEIGHBOUR, starts his Superstakes preparation today when he takes on seven opponents in the annual renewal of the 3-y-o and up open allowance race for the Nigel B. Nunes Memorial Cup over 1820 metres.
This marks his first outing since winning the Boom Jamaica St Leger by 7 3/4 lengths on July 6, and with the three-year-old campaign behind him, now takes older horses for the first time.
Since his St Leger win, the Wayne DaCosta-trained PERFECT NEIGHBOUR has looked much improved at exercise, turning in bullet work after bullet work in the mornings.
The son of Natural Selection, Desperatehousewife really caught the eye at exercise on Saturday, August 17, galloping seven furlongs in a fast 1:26.0. He subsequently breezed six furlongs in 1:13.4 last Saturday, beating his in-form stable companion EXOTIC GOLD comfortably in that work.
With his preparation complete, PERFECT NEIGHBOUR, who just missed becoming a Triple Crown winner, should prove hard to beat with 53.0kg and the 2011 champion jockey Dick Cardenas aboard.
Despite his sound claims, PERFECT NEIGHBOUR will be severely tested by another Derby winner, TYPEWRITER, from the stables of Spencer Chung, as well as the Everal Francis-trained COMMANDING CHIEF and the vastly improved RAGING PROSPECT in a competitive-looking field.
The Fitzroy Glispie-trained RAGING PROSPECT was brave in defeat on August 6 (Independence Day) when running CLASSY PROSPECT to a neck in the valuable Prime Minister's Stakes over 2,000 metres, a race in which he had COMMANDING CHIEF just behind in third and the then favourite TYPEWRITER in fifth.
All will report well prepared and should prove highly competitive, but PERFECT NEIGHBOUR seems poised to take over the mantle from MARK MY WORD (now deceased) as the top distance horse in the country, and his journey begins in earnest today. He should win from RAGING PROSPECT (Percy Williams) and COMMANDING CHIEF under leading all-time jockey Winston Griffiths. His wicked turn of foot approaching the final bend should seal the issue in the straight.
Other firm fancies on the 11-race programme are the DaCosta-trained American colt EXCLUSIVE PRINCE in the second race, down-in-class LIVE WATER in the fourth for $180,000 claimers, VALID IMAGE in the fifth, ROCK 'A' in the sixth, and lightly raced but improving ZEN ZEN in the eighth.