Orville Clarke, Sunday Gleaner Writer
The 2011 St Leger winner, COMMANDING CHIEF, made short work of his seven opponents to win the 42nd running of the Catherine Peak Gold Cup feature for top class horses at Caymanas Park yesterday, with customary rider Paul 'Country' Francis aboard.
Highly fancied at odds of 3-1, the versatile five-year-old gelding from the stables of Everal Francis, took over the lead entering the straight and drew clear to win by 3 1/2 lengths from the late-closing ARGUMENT DONE (12-1).
The latter got up in the nick of time to beat 3-5 favourite and topweight BLAST THEM AWAY under Dick Cardenas for second in a field of eight.
Prominently placed in third approaching the half mile as KIPLING WEEKEND (12-1) and UPPA TUNE (5-2) alternated in the lead, COMMANDING CHIEF was produced on the outside of UPPA TUNE approaching the home turn, quickly disposing of the leader to win in the fairly good time of 1:25.3.
A five-year-old chestnut gelding by War Marshall out of She Knows Beau, COMMANDING CHIEF thus made amends for his strong second to the outstanding sprinter SAINT CECELIA as a three-year-old two years ago.
confident of victory
Orrett Wellington, who co-owns COMMANDING CHIEF with Sylvester Green under the pseudonym Doks Stable, said he was always confident of victory.
"After that big run behind Typewriter in the Superstakes a month ago, I knew he would not lose today with 52.0kg," said the elated owner.
"He trained very well coming into this race and having secured a perfect draw on the outside of the field, that made me even more confident," he added.
Bred by Paul Chen, COMMANDING CHIEF has now won 11 races from 26 starts and close to $10 million in stakes.
Meanwhile, Francis and champion jockey Dane Nelson shared the honours with three winners each on the 10-race programme. Nelson's three-timer, comprising PISCEAN ROCKET, DOUBLE DE CAT and GREEN BERET, enabled him to widen his lead to six over former champion Omar Walker (who was winless on the card) in the jockeys' championship, with 103 wins.
Unbeaten FORCE DE JOUR and UNBREAKABLE, both odds-on favourites, won the Pickney Peak Dye Job Sprint and Purewater Andrew H.B. Aguilar Memorial Cup two-year-old races, respectively.