John O’Bien

MULTIPLE TIMES CHAMPION TRAINER: John O’Bien, conditions the unbeaten Bella Riva

THIS year’s Triple Crown will definitely be like none other ever contested in Trinidad.

The series will begin later than ever before with the First Citizens Guineas on tomorrow at Santa Rosa Park, Arima, without spectators because of the Coronavirus pandemic. And this policy could still be in place when the Midsummer Classic and Trinidad Derby Stakes, the second and third legs, take place late next month and at the end of November, respectively.

A significant change to the series will be the fact that locally-bred horses will get a break at the weights for the very first time.

Jamaican-bred horses have dominated the classics as well as most West Indian-bred events over the years, and as a result they will carry three kilos more than their locally-bred counterparts in the three Grade I events.

And since members of the fairer sex get a three-kilo sex allowance in the classic, locally-bred fillies will actually be six kilos lighter than the top-weighted runners.

What is ironic is that locally-bred horses Wise Guy and Bella Riva would have been the horses to beat in the 1,800-metre Guineas even without the new weight allocation. Now, unbeaten filly Bella Riva will be going after the seventh victory of her career with just 51 kilos in her saddlebag.

Last year’s St James Stakes runner-up Wise Guy could be the best stayer in the field and is one of three of the ten West Indian-bred horses to have scored over two turns. Champion trainer John O’Brien’s other representative is another locally-bred horse, but the distance could be against Princess Steffani in her attempt to complete a hat-trick of wins,

CP Jet, who scored over 1,750 metres in one of the most impressive performances of the season in March but then turned in one of the most disappointing efforts in her only other raced nearly four months later, and the very speedy Red Casino will be the others representing the home team tomorrow. The other five horses are Jamaican-breds and they are all owned by Dave Chadee and trained by his father Harold.

Although Nuclear Fire has won over 1,750 metres and American Traveller has finished on the tins twice over that trip, they are better suited to sprint distances, along with Spring Valley.

The Chadees were successful with Regal Intension in last year’s Guineas and their main contenders tomorrow will be Airforce Won and Golden D’Or.

Last year’s St James Stakes winner Airforce Won finished off the tins when he made his two-turn debut last time out on Emancipation Day (August 1), but it was his first outing in over five months.

Golden D’Or has shown class and he will stay the trip, but he has been giving away a lot of ground at the start of his races and he has not been seen in seven months. The Guineas will be the penultimate of seven races during the Republic Day holiday card and is billed to take place at 4 p.m.

There will be another “big race” 40 minutes before and eight top-class horses have been declared for the 1,900-metre President’s Cup, including defending champ General JN, Independence Cup winner Apocalypse, last year’s Gold Cup winner Master Of War and reigning Horse of the Year Juice Man.

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