Former champion jockey Nobel Abrego celebrated the 50th Anniversary of this country’s Independence in style by piloting Just Call Me Roger to victory in the feature Bernard Dulal-Whiteway Independence Cup. The flambouyant Abrego gave the Glenn Mendez trained gelding a peach of a ride, to burst clear at the far turn and continue the gallop to the line. In the process, Just Call Me Roger became the first winner Abrego ever rode for the Mendez, while ensuring Mendez saddled his first winner in the prestigious event.
Just Call Me Roger proved too strong for Montejo and the well backed Mob The Warrior last Friday at Santa Rosa Park, Arima. It was the superb skill of Abrego that ensured that Paul Mouttet’s five-year-old stayed in front, to land the $120,000 first prize cheque. An elated Abrego had this to say: “Big races are for big jockeys. Glenn Mendez did a great job to get him here in such great shape. I was always travelling sweetly behind the early pace, set by Joezel and Montejo. However, going to the far turn the pace began to slacken and I sent my horse on. When he quickened up, none of his rivals could go with him. In the straight, I just kept him up to his work and he won easier than the winning margin suggests. His acceleration at the far turn was decisive and this was a great performance.”
He ended by saying he was happy to win the opening event on a day when T&T celebrated its Golden Jubilee. Just Call Me Roger also gave 50-year-old Mendez his first Independence Cup success, and the trainer was just as happy adding to his already bulging bag of successes at the centralised venue. Mendez stated: “This a very good horse, he has proven that. Over the past six weeks, we had a lot of problems with him and we were not happy. He has had his hoof problems and we even brought in bar-shoes for him. Today though, the turf surface was kind to him. Once he quickened at the far turn, that was it. It was a great performance, but credit must be given to Abrego for a superb ride” said Mendez.
It was the second victory in this event for owners Paul and Gervan Mouttet, whose Bruceontheloose won this event three years ago. On Friday, the Mouttets watched joyfully as his royal blue and light green silks were carried triumphantly to victory. Gervan intimated, “Glenn Mendez is the one who normally will speak about the performance of the horse, but winning this event is great. He has not been an easy horse to train but came good again today. Abrego rode him well and we hope he will stay sound and win many more races. But, winning this one on the 50th anniversary is something worth savouring.”