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Gold Cup hero hunting more headlines

Friday, January 24, 2014

Headline News will be in the spotlight when horse racing continues tomorrow at Santa Rosa Park, Arima.


As was the case last week Saturday, there will be ten races.


The feature attraction is the Caribbean Turf Championship (GR.IIIR), which will be the third of four races billed for the grass and the fifth event on the card.


Eight West Indian-bred four-year-old and over horses have been declared to face the starter over 1,800 metres in the $100,000 contest.


Headline News is in a class of his own, but victory is not guaranteed as he has no racing experience on the turf, however the same can also be said about the other three highest rated horses in the field, Unquestionable, Pot Of Gold and Chase The Dragon.


Island Star, an eight time winner on the grass, and Bandwagon, who has won three of his last four on the surface, are the real turf specialists in the field, but they may not have enough class to deal with the quartet mentioned above.


Headline News proved his class on Boxing Day, when he won the $500,000 Republic Bank Gold Cup (GR.I), the richest and most prestigious open race on the local calendar.


The Ruthven Smith-bred and owned chestnut was arguably the most improved horse of the year as he had gone down by just a head to Bigman In Town a month earlier in the Caribbean Champion Stakes (GR.IR).


After winning impressively on debut, Headline News was not seen again until August, but he went on to win three times and finish second on two occasions from six starts last year for earnings of over $480,000.


The son of Silver Train only finished half a length ahead of Pot Of Gold in their only meeting when they were fourth and fifth behind Bigman In Town in the NGC CNG Trinidad Derby Stakes (GR.IR), but Headline News has improved leaps and bounds since Republic Day, September 24, as Chase The Dragon found out the hard way.


This son of 2013 Champion Sire, Gold Market; just a length adrift of Headline News in when finishing sixth in the Derby, finished 9¼ lengths in arrears in third just a month later when his John O’Brien-trained stable companion trotted up in the Chief Commander Stakes.


And of course this was only the start as Headline News must have improved by as much as 100 per cent in the final two months of the year as he proved in the Caribbean Champion Stakes (GR.IR) and Republic Bank Gold Cup (GR.I).


Although he was racing in much lower company (70-55), Chase The Dragon also finished the year with a bang by winning his last two starts and Pot Of Gold, who beat the “Dragon” into second in the $500,000 Toyota T&T Breeders Classic on Emancipation Day, defeated 80-50 rated opponents over 1,750 metres last time out on New Year’s Day after being sent in three consecutive one turn events by trainer O’Brien.


After holding his own in several extended sprints, Unquestionable made a return to two turns in style by going down by just half-length to Neal & Massy Independence Cup (GR.I) winner Galveston at the end of October in the Stud Farm Association National Stakes.


Five weeks later, the horse bred and owned by Hugh Lee King, president of the ARC, and his wife Jacqueline, won his first staying event since the 2012 NLCB Easter Guineas (GR.IR), when he defeated 80-50 rivals over 1,750 metres.


If rain forces the Turf Championship to be switched to the dirt, Headline News should be a runaway winner, while Pot Of Gold is expected to get second with Unquestionable and Chase The Dragon battling it out for third, but if the 1.50 pm contest stays on the grass, then there could be surprises, as it was already mentioned that none of the four highest rated horses have ever raced on the surface.


Plum Plum, who finished down the field in his last two starts after winning the first three since he came across from Jamaica in the middle of last year, is also a novice on the lawn.


The field is rounded out by D’Coachman has only raced on the grass only once and was very impressive in winning the 2012 edition of the Turf Classic by over six lengths, but he is taking a big step up in class.


Two of the leading horses in last year’s Triple Crown series will clash in the seventh event over 1,750 metres, but War Of Words, who won the NLCB Easter Guineas and the Carib Brewery Midsummer Classic but failed to become the first Triple Crown winner in a decade when he placed second in the NGC CNG Trinidad Derby, and Prince Zeshan are now in different stables.


Prince Zeshan, the 2012 champion juvenile male who was third in the NLCB Easter Guineas and NGC CNG Trinidad Derby and runner-up in the Carib Brewery Midsummer, has left the O’Brien barn as he was recently purchased by Dave Chadee and is now trained by his father Harold.


Six other horses, rated 70-55, are involved, including the American bred It Is Alleged and Gold Rush, who won the Sugar Mike Stakes, finished second in the Chief Commander Stakes and third in the Toyota Trinidad Breeders Classic last year.


Action will get going as early as 11.15 am with Eye See You, runner-up in the Republic Bank Online St James Stakes on Boxing Day, involved in a field of seven West Indian-bred non-winners of two in a 1,300 metre contest.


The Jamaican as well as four of the other six; All For The Haul and newcomers, Aim To Please, Just Call and Unbridled Pleasure, are owned by Dave Chadee and trained by his dad Harold. 



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