By: Curtis Morton
It was the much anticipated DAN BARTLETTE MEMORIAL STAKES and indeed the signature event on the Nevis Turf and Jockey Club’s calendar.
It was Monday 16th September and significantly celebrated as National Heroes Day, within the Federation of St.Kitts and Nevis.
As expected, a sellout crowd showed up at the Indian Castle Race track. Among the hundreds of spectators, was the Premier of Nevis Hon Vance Amory and his wife; Junior Minister Troy Liburd; Junior Minister Hazel Brandy Williams and former Government Minister, Hensley Daniel. There were no age barriers as from the babies in prams to the elderly, all made their presence felt.
The meet got off to a bumpy start, as in the very first race, which really was a show down between two top horses from the Hermitage stables and also a show down between Trainers Kyle Doras and HAWK Thompson, there was an unfortunate mishap.
On making the turn at the far end, Kyle Doras who was aboard ALL EYES ON ME was unceremoniously deposited to the turf. All eyes were truly on the jockey who remained motionless even as Sean Hanley in his debut run as a Jockey, took first place honours aboard GREY GHOST. Doras eventually walked away with some assistance and was taken to the Alexandra Hospital for treatment.
Race two saw Patrick Howell skillfully guiding LADY PLEASURE into the winner’s circle and race three saw the first win for Michael Semple, aboard ROSMAN.
Then for race four, there was an extra buzz around the ground as the spectators jammed the main stands and flocked to the railings. This was the match up for the grand Dan Bartlette memorial trophy—the big one baby!
With Kyle Doras away at the hospital, WILD CANDY was forced to sit out this one. However, everyone watched closely as the three horses: OBAMA; MR. BIG PEPE and REAL EXPECTATION, got off to a smooth start.
The horses remained in a cluster for most of the 8 furlongs but the presidential OBAMA took a definitive lead on the back stretch and its huge fan club was screaming their support. However as they entered the final incline, the champion horse MR.BIG PEPE, suddenly changed gears and not only closed the gap on OBAMA but passed him as if he was in reverse. A tense looking Allister Thompson suddenly started to jump imaginary ropes in the stand. MR. BIG PEPE would go on to win by a clear horse length and his huge fan base, celebrated in style.
Race five, the filly classics, also had the spectators stomping in the stands as three horses stormed around the track in the 7.5 furlongs affair: HAWLEY’S WILD FIRE; LADY BOSS and PRIMAVERA.
It was a breath taking event. The judges made an early call but the race was so close that an official protest was made and so the final adjudication will be made sometime today after chief Steward Gary Griffin, watches the race on a bigger screen and in slow motion replay, at the NTV studios at 9.30 am.
Michael Semple was adjudged the Jockey of the day.
The action went into the night with the crowd receiving additional entertainment from the GRAND MASTERS and X-ZIBIT bands.