Darby to strike with ‘Force’
AFTER watching DOC HOLIDAY win his sixth race in eight starts then had his number taken down for interference on Saturday, veteran trainer Robert Darby Sr looks set to strike another winning partnership, this time with FORCE DE JOUR, who has not lost in his last five starts.
Darby snapped up the United States-bred four-year-old colt for $450,000 from the claim box on October 19. FORCE DE JOUR returns on a $550,000 tag for tomorrow's ninth race at 1100 metres, having beaten everything put in his path, from $450,000 claiming to overnight allowance, since late August.
A shrewd conditioner, Darby has secured the services of useful four-kilo claiming apprentice, Bebeto Harvey. As a result, FORCE DE JOUR, originally in at 57.0 kilos, will carry 53.0, seven pounds heavier than main rival SUNLIGHT EXPRESS - the exact handicap at which the two competed on October 19 when FORCE DE JOUR ran through to win by a length and three quarter at 1000 metres straight.
SUNLIGHT EXPRESS also returns off a claim. He was grabbed by Neive Graham on October 19 and returns hunting vengeance, having lost to FORCE DE JOUR in his last two starts, both at 1000 metres straight.
However, FORCE DE JOUR has proven more versatile and consistent, winning six races from 12 starts, ranging from 1100 to 1400 metres. SUNLIGHT EXPRESS is yet to win in 12 starts and lacks the soundness of FORCE DE JOUR.
It's hardly likely that a change of barn will affect FORCE DE JOUR. Darby, in his heydays, was known as the 'Claiming King' and is an expert in refreshing newcomers to his stable.
The silly season of outsiders officially got under way at Caymanas Park last Saturday when one of the most lethal race programmes in decades left tipsters in tatters, nationwide, resulting in four STAR Post To Post touts failing to spot a winner on the 10-race card.
Jimmie, Johnny Handsome, Gizzy and Clarkie failed to get off the mark whereas Kirk Kong and The Editor escaped with a winner each.
The top two tipsters, Indian Flame and The Clockman, came away with two apiece to consolidate their standings heading into November-December during which outsiders traditionally rear their heads.
"It has started. The card was very difficult with as many as four tipsters getting nil. Punters should be wary going forward," noted Indian Flame, who easily completed back-to-back monthly incentives win, ending October with 28 winners, five clear of The Clockman and The Editor.
Hoping to make a comeback on Wednesday's midweek card, STAR Post To Post Pick-6 tipsters are gearing up for a rush to the wire.
Though Indian Flame holds what appears to be an unassailable 17-win lead over The Clockman for the $90,000 first prize, the $30,000 runner-up spot is yet to be sealed. The Clockman holds an eight-win lead over Jimmie with whom he has differed in three races on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Jimmie's third-place, worth $20,000, is being targeted by Clarkie and Johnny Handsome on 205 and 204 winners, respectively. Jimmie is on 210 winners, having endured a terrible October during which he picked up two nils, but has still been able to fend off his pursuers.
Johnny handsome is hoping his stand-alone selection in the fourth race, LITTLE TUFF MAN, will not only take him closer to third spot, but also give him a jump on The Editor in the final bi-monthly longshot for the year. The Editor easily won September-October, with Kiri coming home at 11-1 on October 3.