Mon | Jan 18, 2021

Toona Ciliata at a canter today

Published:Saturday | November 28, 2020 | 12:12 AMAinsley Walters/Gleaner Writer
TOONA CILIATA, ridden by Shane Ellis.
TOONA CILIATA, ridden by Shane Ellis.

THE racing gods have smiled on champion trainer Anthony Nunes, literally turning the tables on Wayne DaCosta, who, for the last three of his 13 consecutive titles, had SHE’S A MANEATER as his cannon against his nemesis, who finally dethroned him last season.

It’s now Nunes’ turn to use TOONA CILIATA as the gatekeeper of his first title, the top handicapper basking in conditions which make him literally unbeatable, especially at longer distances.

TOONA CILIATA will never be heavier than 126lb at distances in excess of seven furlongs, no matter how many times he beats the same rivals, this afternoon’s ‘open allowance/graded stakes’ at seven and a half furlongs being another example.

Enjoying his guaranteed weight in the Viceroy Trophy a month ago, TOONA CILIATA ran the year’s fastest mile, clocking 1:36.2 after getting rid of DaCosta’s SIR ALTON in a six-furlong split of 1:09.4, winning by a haughty four lengths.

SIR ALTON returns at roughly the same weight. ROY ROGERS is up in class, sitting almost level with SIR ALTON. SENTIENT is down three pounds for an 11-length walloping from TOONA CILIATA in the Viceroy Trophy whereas DaCosta’s other runner, KING ARTHUR, reports 19, or so, pounds lighter than his derby win but needs another 10lb to make up for the class.

NIPSTER falls into the same boat with KING ARTHUR, both taking a leap from three-year-old company to face unrelenting pace from TOONA CILIATA, who used 130lb to clock 1:19.2, chasing PATRIARCH off the lead at six and a half furlongs in July.

MARQUESAS caught the eye on his return to form on October 23, a marker race from which winners such as ROY ROGERS, PRINCESS ANNIE and Saturday’s stunner, JAMAI RAJA, all emerged.

A runaway winner of the St Leger two years ago, MARQUESAS continues to look razor-sharp at exercise and will possibly be getting 16lb from TOONA CILIATA. He had clocked an impressive 1:45.0 for eight and a half furlongs, carrying 116lb, suggesting he could be back to his best and worth a shot at the exacta.

ainsley.walters@gleanerjm.com