Azan holds keys to Sunday feature
Orville Clarke, Sunday Gleaner Writer
The first Sunday meet of 2015 gets under way at Caymanas Park today, the nine-race programme featuring the 3-y-o and up open allowance race over 1100 metres for the St Catherine Cup.
Of the seven horses declared, trainer Richard Azan and champion owners Elite Bloodstock Limited hold a strong hand with the recent winner PISCEAN ROCKET under champion jockey Dane Nelson and BORDER LINE, the mount of former champion Omar Walker.
Both will be severely tested by the Phillip Feanny-trained duo CAMPESINO, who shoulders topweight of 57.0kg and the sparingly raced American 5-y-o mare KIPLING WEEKEND, who is out for the first time since March of last year but who has worked well despite the lengthy absence.
Also expected to run well is the vastly improved STEP IT UP from his convenient mark of 52.0kg and Robert Halledeen again riding for trainer Stedman Curtis. But it will more than likely come down to BORDER LINE and PISCEAN ROCKET.
Both caught the eye in an exercise spin together last Monday morning, PISCEAN ROCKET winning that 51/2-furlong work in a brisk 1:07.0 by 1:00.3, beating BORDER LINE (1:07.2) by two lengths. That obviously prompted Nelson, who had choice of rides, to go for PISCEAN ROCKET, having won aboard both in recent months.
However, BORDER LINE now ventures over his favourite trip, and this consistent run-on sprinter will surely go well in the hands of four-time champion Omar Walker. For me, BORDER LINE only needs to reproduce his close second to the impressive CRUCIAL APPEAL over this trip on December 14 when having the likes of STEP IT UP and FORTUNEONEHUNDRED behind.
The five-year-old son of Traditional - Constant Girl closed rapidly on the rails to get within half a length of CRUCIAL APPEAL in that fast-run race (1:04.3), and with lots of speed present, this should set it up nicely for BORDER LINE and PISCEAN ROCKET, with BORDER LINE preferred.
Other firm fancies on the card are GREATER GLORY over the front-running UNCLE G in the knotty-looking second race over 1100 metres; ABBEY ROAD in the third for maiden three-year-olds; down in class BIG BAD LINKS to rebound in the fourth over a mile; WOMAN IS BOSS to go all the way in the fifth over the straight; and NATASHADONTPLAY in the seventh over 1400 metres.