Bajans vs Brits, Irish Saturday
Expect excitement and entertainment galore when the Barbados Turf Club’s (BTC) first day of the third racing season – Courtesy Breeder’s Classic And Winter Jockey Challenge Race Day – runs off on Saturday at the Garrison Savannah.
Headlining the jockeys’ challenge are Team Barbados, comprising captain Anderson Trotman, Antonio Bishop, Antonio Whitehall and Damario Bynoe while the British and Irish team will be led by Kieren Fallon, and includes Seb Sanders, Jimmy Fortune and Pat Smullen.
Points for the challenge will be allocated thus: 15 for a win, ten for second, seven – third, five – fourth and three – fifth. In the instance of a tie, the points will be tallied and divided equally.
The nine-race card is a collaborative effort between the BTC, the Barbados Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association and the Barbados Tourism Authority, along with supporting sponsors Courtesy Garage and Bubba Sports Bar.
Rookie Bynoe has been rewarded for his consistency with a place on the home team. This 21-year-old is among the country’s leading riders this year, having won the apprentice title in seasons one and two.
With 22 races thus far for the year, he is challenging for the local jockey title. His greatest accomplishment is a courageous second-place finish astride the long-shot High Tide in this year’s United Insurance Derby.
No one will be more elated than 19-year-old Whitehall, who was upgraded from reserve to a live competitor just two weeks before the challenge. He holds the honour of being the fastest apprentice in Barbados’ history to graduate to a full-fledged rider, accomplishing the feat in two years.
With his services in demand, Whitehall then journeyed to neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago and competed with a great deal of success, winning 22 races in one year.
Snapped up by racing tycoon Sir Charles Williams, Whitehall won the champion apprentice title and took the 2013 Fillies Guineas. This year he was positioned to capture the Barbados Triple Crown, having won the first two legs with the filly Nekitta but this did not materialize.
Irishman Smullen is a well respected rider on the international stage. The 36-year-old veteran has been dominant in Ireland, winning six championship titles 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2010.
Smullen’s résumé makes for attractive reading and among the highlights are four Irish St Ledgers victories, two Irish 1000 Guineas, and two Tattersall’s Gold Cups. He also enjoyed the distinction of winning the 2000 Irish and English Guineas, 2000 Guineas in Britain and a Graded Stakes win in the United States in the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Marathon.
Fortune gained his rider’s licence in Ireland back in 1987. However, the 41-year-old, though not setting the racing world afire, has been able to hold his own.
He caught the public’s attention when Joveworth, his mount in the Ayr Gold Cup, lit up the tote board at the handsome odds of 50 to one that set the tone for what was to follow, winning the apprentice title with 47 wins.
Some highlights from his career are scoring in the Fillies Mile three times, a superb double strike at Royal Ascot in 2008, followed in 2009 with the Yorkshire Oaks. He then added the derby and the Champion Stakes.