Azan’s Franfield can sur­prise again

Jamaica Gleaner - - SATURDAY - Orville Clarke Gleaner Writer

OVER THE past 20 years, Richard Azan has dom­i­nated the Su­per­stakes, win­ning the rich and pres­ti­gious 2000-me­tre race a record nine times.

And to­day his streak could well be ex­tended with last year’s win­ner FRANFIELD, one of the fan­cied horses in the 38th run­ning of the Burger Kingspon­sored event, which of­fers a to­tal purse of $4.5 mil­lion.

FRANFIELD scored an up­set win un­der lead­ing all-time jockey Win­ston Grif­fiths a year ago, but sub­se­quently proved that the win was no fluke by com­ing back to beat reign­ing ‘Horse of the Year’ SEEK­ING MY DREAM in the Chair­man’s Tro­phy over 1500 me­tres on March 12.

FRANFIELD also beat the 2015 cham­pion stayer PER­FECT NEIGH­BOUR in the Gov­er­nor Gen­eral’s Stakes over the Su­per­stakes dis­tance on Oc­to­ber 1 to po­si­tion him­self for a pos­si­ble re­peat.

UN­PRECE­DENTED FEAT

That would be a mo­men­tous oc­ca­sion for Azan, who has shown a ca­pac­ity for scor­ing re­peat wins in the Su­per­stakes.

The leg­endary MENUDO won the race four con­sec­u­tive years in the fa­mil­iar blue and white silks of owner/trainer Azan be­tween 1999 and 2002, an un­prece­dented feat by any horse in the long and colour­ful his­tory of the race.

MENUDO won it for the first time as a three-year-old with Pana­ma­nian jockey Roger Moore aboard, then for good mea­sure reeled out three more wins in a row with An­drew Ramgeet aboard.

MENUDO, the 2000 and 20001 ‘Horse of the Year’, failed in his bid to win the race on his fifth at­tempt in 2003, hav­ing bro­ken down dur­ing the race.

An­other re­peat win­ner for Azan was two-time ‘Horse of the Year’ MARK MY WORD, who won the

race for three con­sec­u­tive years from 2010 to 2012. The trainer re­calls:

“He seemed on course to win the race for a fourth straight year, but suf­fered a colic in­fec­tion which claimed his life, a sad loss, com­ing at the time it did.”

Prior to MENUDO’S streak, Azan, dou­bling as owner/trainer, won the race for the first time in 1995 with derby win­ner DORVAL, rid­den by the leg­endary Ge­orge HoSang.

Now seek­ing win num­ber 10, Azan ex­plains his fan­tas­tic run of suc­cess in this par­tic­u­lar race:

CRIT­I­CAL FAC­TOR

“First of all, you have to be lucky enough to have a good, promis­ing three-year-old and build on what you have as the sea­son pro­gresses. The horse has to show a lik­ing for a dis­tance of ground and you have to en­sure he re­mains sound. Pro­gram­ming is a crit­i­cal fac­tor in his devel­op­ment ,mean­ing he can­not run too of­ten.

“FRANFIELD is a case in point, and given his pro­gram­ming and con­di­tion­ing lead­ing up to the race, is ready to give it his best shot.

“He won con­vinc­ingly last year, is a bet­ter horse this year, hav­ing beaten SEEK­ING MY DREAM in the Chair­man’s Tro­phy in March and PER­FECT NEIGH­BOUR in the Gov­er­nor Gen­eral’s Stakes over the Su­per­stakes dis­tance some weeks ago.

“I have ev­ery con­fi­dence that FRANFIELD will re­ceive a good ride from the much-im­proved ap­pren­tice Be­beto Har­vey, who knows him well, and we’ll see what hap­pens in what prom­ises to be a highly com­pet­i­tive race,’ said the 64-year-old trainer.

A big-race trainer in his own right, Azan ob­tained his li­cence in 1994 fol­low­ing a lengthy stint in Panama as an owner. He was as­sis­tant trainer to Fitz Craw­ford in the late ’80s, at which time he owned a good horse, PRINCE MIKE, who was beaten by THE VICEROY as the favourite in the 1989 Guineas.

In later years, Azan won the derby on two oc­ca­sions with DORVAL (1995) and MARK MY WORD (2010), not to men­tion suc­cesses in the 2000 Guineas, Caribbean Sprint and Gov­er­nor’s Cup.

FILE Trainer Richard Azan.

FILE

FRANFIELD (left), with Dane Nel­son aboard, de­feat­ing SEEK­ING MY DREAM (Omar Walker) in the 1500 me­tres Chair­man’s Tro­phy on March 12, 2016.

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