GENERAL JN turned in a scintillating performance on the first horse racing day with fans present in more than 11 months yesterday at Santa Rosa Park, Arima.
The 7/5 second fancy made the heavy burden of 60 kilos look like a penny stamp as he slammed the opposition in the penultimate and feature event of the six-race card.
Making Headlines, also allotted 60 kilos, was attempting to score for the fifth time in succession, but the evens favourite was racing for the first time on turf, and he could only finish fifth of six in the modified benchmark handicap for 80 & over rated horses.
General JN flew out of the gates in front and was never headed as he cruised home by what could have been as many as ten lengths, but ended up being half that amount after being eased considerably in the closing stages of the 1,500-metre contest by former champion apprentice Dillon Khelawan.
After going ten races over 15 months without a victory on the main track, Jerry Narace’s six-year-old has now scored twice from as many outings on turf as he had taken the Sian’s Gold Sprint on New Year’s Day.
Early Bird, the 2019 Stewards Cup hero who had placed third in the “Sian’s Gold”, was second yesterday, 1 1/4 lengths ahead of last year’s fourth-placed “Sian’s Gold” finisher, Tiz A Vibe, in her first race in a couple weeks shy of a year.
Root Of Jesse, the 2019 Independence Cup winner, was another 4 1/4 lengths back to round out the top four in his first start in six months.
Commanding Fashion, racing for only the sixth time since winning the 2018 edition of the Independence Cup, was asked to tote ten kilos overweight and ended up trailing the field.
Making Headlines, who was in a class by himself in the final three months of last season, crossed the finish line three lengths ahead and did not seem to enjoy his first outing on turf.
The son of 2013 Gold Cup winner Headline News had completed his beaver trick by winning the Gold Cup on Boxing Day (December 26) after starting it with a victory in the President’s Cup on Republic Day (September 24).
The win-streak also included a triumph in the Stewards Cup, another one of the leading open events on the calendar.
General JN, who placed second in the President’s Cup and Stewards Cup before finishing third in the Gold Cup in his first start for trainer Glenn Mendez, was scoring for the 12th time, and he also has seven runner-up finishes in a stellar 26-race career.
Racing has been taking place with only essential workers and media personnel present for the last eight months, and patrons allowed on the premises for the first time since March 14, the final race day before the three-and-a-half-month shutdown because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Ministry of Health has given the green light for no more than 50 per cent capacity, but only a few hundred fans were at Santa Rosa yesterday and the very spacious facility was not even a quarter full.
Horse racing continues at Santa Rosa Park next week Saturday, with the fifth round of the Arima Race Club’s 2021 season.