Nunes and Ward ‘going to wire’
Defending champion Andrew Nunes and former champion Anderson Ward are in an apparent race to the wire for the horse trainer’s title this year.
Both look likely to surpass the half million dollar mark in winnings next race day; Nunes’s charges have earned $492 263 and Ward’s $482 902.
“Busha”, as Nunes is known by race fans, has turned the pressure on his rivals by landing on day one with Apostle, who won the Breeders Classic over 1 800 metres and Southern Lights in the three-year-old maidens Foster Hall Trophy Handicap Division A over 1 100 metres.
That was followed by another pair of wins on the second day.
His unbeaten filly Vapour Trail impressively stopped horses rated 65-85 in the God Bless Bim Handicap over 1 570 metres. Jade Temple then handed in her maiden certificate with a win in the Unarmed Units Handicap over 1 570 metres.
Judging from the smiles on his face, one can see Nunes is not only relishing the challenge but is happy with the way his horses have started the deciding season, catapulting him into pole position.
The same cannot be said for Ward, whose Blue Diamond Stable has only two second-place finishes to show as their best returns for this season.
Ward and Nunes have had some very intense battles over the last three years and much the same can be expected in the run-in especially since Ward’s charges are yet to make an impression.
Although the stable has been going through a rough patch, this is nothing new to this outfit. Their loyal fans will expect them to rebound very soon.
There is also a keen battle going on for the other runner-up positions among Liz Deane, Victor Cheeseman and Richard Deane.
What makes this a very keen contest is that Liz Deane has found winner’s enclosure elusive in the last few race days while Cheeseman, although striking with Khartoum and Rhay Stormello, has failed to reproduce the consistency from the first season that gave him a top-four placing.
Richard Deane’s horses are slowly getting into their strides but with time not on his side, he will need to have them striking in big numbers in order to continue being a challenger.
Jonathon Simpson and Edward Walcott Jr, both lurking in the background, have more than enough ammunition that they could strike critical blows in the upcoming race days.