EDMONTON, Canada – A mere six weeks have elapsed in the new Northlands Park season but six-time reigning champion Rico Walcott has already installed himself as the heavy favourite to pick up an unprecedented seventh straight title.
Yesterday, the Barbadian riding star gathered a triple on the eight-race programme to move his tally for the season to 20 win from 64 rides – a lead of eight on second placed Jamaican Dane Nelson.
Last season, Walcott dominated the campaign to chalk up 99 victories and win by a margin of 40 and from all indications is laying the foundation for another such assault.
He opened his account on the mid-week card here in race three over 6-1/2 furlongs when he guided seven-year-old bay gelding Serendipity to a half-length win over the three-year-olds and upward.
Sent off at odds of 4-1, the pair stalked the duelling Clever Speed and Macho North before bidding on the late turn and getting the better of the stretch run under a strong drive.
Walcott was in the winners’ circle for the second time, pairing with 5-1 choice Justgettingeven to trounce the three-year-old and upward fillies and mares by 6-1/4 lengths in race six.
Going 6-1/2 furlongs, Walcott and the four-year-old bay filly made all the running, widening their advantage throughout to take the wire without a challenger.
His third victory came in the day’s penultimate race when he guided eight-year-old chestnut gelding Pakal to a comfortable victory over the three-year-old and upwards.
Installed as the hot favourite for the 6-1/2 furlong trip, Walcott produced another gate-to-wire effort to dominate the running and be nearly three lengths clear at the wire.
Meanwhile seven-time Woodbine champion Patrick Husbands continued to make healthy progress at the stellar Canadian racetrack with a double during yesterday’s eight-race programme there.
The veteran Barbadian rider captured race three with 5-1 bet Liddyup and returned to the day’s final race with Winstanley, to make his mark on the mid-week card.
Husbands, without a title since 2014, lies third on 27 wins, just five off the second placed Rafael Hernandez, with reigning champion Eurico Rosa da Silva out front on 47.
The 44-year-old Husbands first found himself in the winners’ circle when he piloted four-year-old bay filly Liddyup to a comfortable 1-1/4 length victory over the three-year-old and upward fillies and mares.
Going a mile and sixteenth, Husbands raced mid-pack as favourite Boo posted the early fractions with I Got Silent Ego chasing.
However, Husbands had moved up to third by the time the race swung for home and he rallied in the stretch to reach the front and coast to the wire under a hands-ride.
His second win came over seven furlongs when he combined with five-year-old bay gelding Winstanley to dismiss the three-year-old and upwards by two lengths, in a front-running effort.
The pair produced decent splits of 23.23 seconds for the quarter and 46.11 for the half to open up a handsome lead, before controlling the stretch run to negate all late threats.