Jamaica Gleaner / MARVELLOUS MARVA, the most improved horse in training last year, is poised to complete a hat-trick of wins on her 2018 debut in this afternoon’s Alexander Hamilton Trophy at a mile.
A five-year-old mare who appeared to be a one-paced sluggard as a three-year-old, MARVELLOUS MARVA transformed into a dangerous middle-distance runner at four last season, moving from non-winners-of-two to open allowance in eight starts.
A late bloomer, indeed, each of MARVELLOUS MARVA’s last two victories were recorded up in class, closing last year by beating overnight and open allowance in back-to-back trophy races.
The grey mare made a mockery of SOY EL SENOR and United States-bred BLUE DIXIE, not once, but twice in a month and a half, the last being the Gladiator Trophy in which she chased and powered past ORPHEUS at 1400 metres.
BLUE DIXIE and SOY EL SENOR return among five rivals to face MARVELLOUS MARVA but both are worse off at the handicaps. Philip Feanny has wisely summoned two-kilo claiming champion apprentice Anthony Thomas to ensure MARVELLOUS MARVA carries 52.0 kilos, after winning with 50.5 on December 30.
SOY EL SENOR is worst hit, jumping seven pounds in the weight to 55.5 kilos after carrying 52.0 when beaten a length and a half by MARVELLOUS MARVA. BLUE DIXIE isn’t too bad off but has climbed by five pounds, moving from 50.0 to to 52.0, after finishing two and three quarter lengths behind MARVELLOUA MARVA.
AWESOME DESTINY, the other proven distance runner in the six-horse field, had to depend on a New Year’s Day drop in class to beat DONTAE and DYSFUNCTIONAL at 1820 metres after being humbled by stablemate BLUE DIXIE at a mile 12 days earlier.
Not only has MARVELLOUS MARVA improved significantly in her races, she has become an exercise freak, clocking 59.3 on the round course last Sunday, the fastest of nine workouts at the distance that morning.
A mile is right up MARVELLOUS MARVA’s street, having clocked 1:44.0 for eight and a half furlongs in November’s Harry Parsard Trophy, a race in which she posted a mile split of 1:36.3 after stalking six furlongs in 1:11.3.
Meanwhile, the 1000-metre straight co-feature Eight thirty Sprint for maiden two-year-old fillies has two fancied horses with contrasting displays of form.
Unraced in four months, ALEXANDRA has shown form on the exercise track, posting good times from the gate, whereas PRINCESS ZELLA showed what she is capable of by leading LICI’S PEPSI and company for five furlongs on debut at 1300 metres two weeks ago.
PRINCESS ZELLA is a half-sister to quick PAPA ALBERT with speed stallion NUCLEAR WAYNE as her sire. Her trainer, Patrick Lynch, is a shrewd dude who knows exactly when to press the right buttons on his runners. PRINCESS ZELLA’s debut run, at 1300 metres, her breeding considered, wasn’t one of those days.