Saint Cecelia — the one and only

Raceday review Saturday, April 13

The record is now done and dusted. Saint Cecelia is the first horse in the history of horse racing in Jamaica to win 13 consecutive races, breaking the old record of 12 held since 1996 by Triple winner War Zone. The seven-year-old chestnut mare by Burning Marque — She’s On Wheels achieved this amazing mark in the usual easy manner, winning by five and a half lengths from stable companion The Guv with Palace Gold third. Shane Ellis, her regular rider had very little to do on the day, just sitting in the saddle and allowing Saint Cecelia to run as she pleased. That she did with ease against rivals not fit to race against her. Opinions are divided among racing fans as to the ability of Saint Cecelia and her place among the great local bred horses to race in Jamaica. The naysayers point to a dearth of competition at the top level for Saint Cecelia to race against. This might be true, as only Mark My Word at the longer distances and Saint Cecelia can be classified as genuine ‘A 1′ horses currently racing in the land. In addition, many point to the fact that Saint Cecelia has benefitted quite significantly from the new rule which limits the top weight to be carried by any horse in any race at 126 lbs. This rule, the critics say, severely limits the handicap potential of other horses having even a smidgen of a chance when racing against Saint Cecelia. Let’s be fair. Saint Cecelia did not make the rules, and her trainer Spencer Chung has simply used the situation to benefit his horse by judiciously choosing her races — nothing wrong with that. He could never choose her opposition, and therefore had to run against the available stock. These reasons in no way smear the performances of Saint Cecelia. Winning 13 races in a row over a two-year period is an outstanding accomplishment, which should be lauded and praised. No praise can be too high for Chung. Schooled by many times champion trainer Phillip Feanny, Chung has developed into a very astute, and judging by the way he races his horses, a very patient conditioner. His handling of Saint Cecelia as a young and inexperienced trainer has been nothing short of brilliant. Chung has carefully guided her progress and is now reaping the success and accepting all the accolades for the brilliant performances of Saint Cecelia. Chung’s handling last year of Typewriter to win the derby and the St Leger is proof of his ability as a trainer. Yes many will have their say as to whether Saint Cecelia is as good as, or better than some of the great fillies to have raced in the past. That debate will always rage, but let us agree on one thing, to win 13 races in a racing career is outstanding, few horses are able to achieve this milestone, so to win 13 consecutive races is a feat of unparalleled proportions and that is why this writer without hesitation places Saint Cecelia among the greats, and certainly one of, if not the best filly to have ever raced in this country. Saint Cecelia deserves her place in the pantheon of the stars. Redemption for Jemar The raceday of April 10 saw apprentice Jemar Jackson riding his second winner She’s So Special, only to lose the race in the Steward’s Room. She’s So Special was disqualified and placed second behind Principe, ridden by the apprentice leader Shamaree Muir. Punters at the track and also this writer were of the view that the decision of the men from the Jamaica Racing Commission was a bit harsh. Jackson accepted his fate and returned on Saturday to right the wrong by steering home Austin Luke to victory for trainer Ryan Darby. That is the way to do it young man. Another of the apprentices, Prince Holder, after a lull returned to the winner’s enclosure with a powerful display on Lashing Force. Riding Lashing Force in a 1,000-metre round event against 1-9 favourite Hupomone, Holder was first out of the gates and he never looked back. It was a wire-to-wire job that crashed many pick-9 bets as Hupomone was seen as a five-star banker. For Holder it must have been a very pleasing victory, as on the last occasion he rode Lashing Force, the horse bolted and he got his left foot caught in the stirrup. Using his strength, Holder was able to control Lashing Force, who took no further part in the event. Austin Luke (# 4) under Jemar Jackson gets the better of Hermoso Amigo (Shamaree Muir up) to win the seventh race over 1,000 metres straight at Caymanas Park last Saturday. (PHOTO: HURBUN WILLIAMS)

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