Hot Ellis guides home Saint Cecelia
Orville Clarke, Sunday Gleaner Writer
Former champion jockey Shane Ellis stole the show at Caymanas Park yesterday with four winners, including 'Horse of the Year' SAINT CECELIA, who won the Eileen Cliggott Memorial Trophy grade one feature over 1300 metres in impressive fashion.
Ellis and big-race trainer Spencer Chung, fresh from their Derby success with the unbeaten TYPEWRITER on the previous Saturday, teamed up once again to ensure a seventh-consecutive win with SAINT CECELIA, the reigning champion sprinter.
Unlike TYPEWRITER, who had a smooth passage in the Derby, SAINT CECELIA, a natural front runner, experienced traffic problems leaving the half-mile and was forced to come from behind in a small field of five.
The 47-1 outsider, RIO COBRE, a pacesetter for the highly fancied American colt BLAST THEM AWAY (7-5), led like a bat from hell. Ellis, however, settled SAINT CECELIA in second and was challenging for the lead on the rails when she was hindered by RIO COBRE and had to be snatched up and relegated to joint third entering the straight.
Showing her true class, however, SAINT CECELIA came back strongly to overtake the American filly, NOON IT IS (4-1), leaving the furlong pole and kept on strongly under topweight of 57.0kg to beat BLAST THEM AWAY by two lengths.
It was truly a gusty performance, as SAINT CECELIA posted her 16th win from 27 starts with close to $14.7 million in stakes.
Owned by the Chung family and bred by HAM Stables Limited, the six-year-old chestnut mare by Burning Marque out of the Bates Motel mare She's On Wheels was notching her second win from as many starts this season, having won the Lotto Sprint on her May 19 seasonal debut.
Her owners will receive a number of awards on her behalf at the belated 'Salute to Racing' ceremony at Caymanas Park next Saturday, including Horse of the Year, Champion Sprinter, Champion Local Bred and Champion Older horse.
Ellis said he was delighted with the victory, even though he had to work overtime on this occasion.
"She was hindered by Rio Cobre at the halfway stage, but despite this I didn't panic," said the 2000 champion jockey.
"Had it been another horse that would have been the end of her, especially with topweight ... but she's different. I got her to relax approaching the home turn and when I asked her to run again early in the straight, it was all over.
"Although confined to sprints, I think she can get up to a mile. It should be recalled that she won both the 1000 Guineas and the Oaks as a three-year-old and the Gold Cup last December," he added.
Ellis also booted home 3-5 favourite BURNING CIELO in the opening race, MENTALIST at 5-2 in the fifth for maiden three-year-olds and GO GO YVONNE at 2-1 for Chung in the ninth for overnight allowance horses, to move up to third in the standings with 39 wins.