General JN

(flashback)ON TOP: General JN, with Rico Hernandez up, masters Master Of War (hidden against rail) in the 1,350-metre Carib Brand Diamond Stakes, secondary feature on the Republic Day, nine-race card, at Santa Rosa Park, Arima. The Jerry Narace-owned chestnut son of Forest Danger, trained by John O’Brien, prevailed by half-length, in a quick 1.18.28, which was fractionally outside Bigman In Town’s track record of 1.18.1, set on September 24, 2014. 

AFFIRMATIVE took full advantage of his “penny stamp” to defeat top-class opposition for the first time in his career when horse racing returned after a six-month Covid-19 hiatus yesterday at Santa Rosa Park, Arima.

Racing with the minimum impost of 44 kilos and the lightest rider in the country, Kiran Razack, on his back, Krishna Sahadeo’s charge made most of the running to win the penultimate and feature event of the seven-race card at odds of almost 6/1.

Bella Riva, the second lightest horse in the field of seven with 48.5 kilos, was about five lengths adrift midway down the homestretch in second, but closed the gap considerably and was only one behind at the finish line.

Making Headlines, also doing his best work in the closing stages, was next past the post, and General JN, sent off as the favourite despite having to tote the maximum impost of 60 kilos, rounded out the top four in the 1,350-metre modified benchmark handicap for 70 and over rated horses.

It was the first defeat on the main track for Making Headlines since Apocalypse touched him off by just half-length in the Independence Cup almost 14 months ago.

The Ruthven Smith-bred and owned five-year-old then went the rampage and was triumphant in his last four starts of the season, including the President’s Cup, Stewards Cup and Gold Cup.

Making Headlines was beaten into fifth in his only outing this season, but that event for 80 and over rated horses eight months ago was his first attempt on turf.

General JN won that 1,500-metre contest with 60 kilos in his saddle bags for his second straight on grass, but he was denied a hat-trick of wins last time out when Bella Riva upset him in the Champagne Stakes.

The Sian’s Gold Sprint hero has ten victories on the main track, but none in his last 12 starts attempts since he was triumphant in the Diamond Stakes over yesterday’s trip on Republic Day (September 24) 2019.

Nine-time dirt winner Bella Riva was facing top-class opposition for the first time last time out when she stunned General JN for her first victory on turf.

The daughter of 2010 Guineas heroine Grand Riviere has definitely gotten even better after placing in the top three in all three legs of the Triple Crown last year.

Bella Riva has won three of her five starts since placing third in the Trinidad Derby Stakes at the end of November, beginning with a revenge triumph over Triple Crown winner Wise Guy in the Trinidad & Tobago Breeders Classic on Boxing Day (December 26).

Affirmative is also a very talented locally-bred horse, but injuries over the years have prevented him from reaching his true potential.

Despite being a six-year-old, the 2018 Breeders Classic hero has only faced the starter 16 times in his career and yesterday’s triumph was his second in succession and sixth all told.

Affirmative had hinted that he could be on the right track again when returned from a ten-month layoff to place fourth in the President’s Cup at odds of 35/1 on Republic Day last year.

And Shivam Maharaj’s chestnut finished the season by occupying the same spot in the Gold Cup, the most prestigious open staying event on the calendar, as a 30/1 shot on Boxing Day.

Early Bird, the 2019 Stewards Cup winner, was a disappointing fifth of the seven runners and was followed home by Regal Intension and Signal Note, respectively.

Racing continues after a three-week break with the tenth round of the Arima Race Club’s 2021 Season on November 13.

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