Parsard says still a wait and see with Huntsman, despite impressive victory in Mr Lover Lover feature at Caymanas Park

By June 18, 2023
Reyan Lewis pilots Huntsman to victory in the Mr Lover Lover trophy contest at Caymanas Park on Sunday. Reyan Lewis pilots Huntsman to victory in the Mr Lover Lover trophy contest at Caymanas Park on Sunday. contributed

After missing out on the 2000 Guineas due to injury, Huntsman signalled his readiness to challenge for the St Leger next month, as he won the Mr Lover Lover Trophy, a Restricted Allowance II event for native-bred three-year-olds (non-winners of two) and imported three-year-olds and upward (maiden), in impressive fashion at Caymanas Park on Sunday.

Trained by Ian Parsard, Huntsman, who was out for the third time in his budding career, dismantled the field by some 16 lengths and completed the nine furlongs and 25 yards (1,820m) journey in a respectable 1:58.2. The splits were 27.3, 53.1, 1:17.2 and 1:43.2.

This was Huntsman's second win, with his next performance being a second-place finish behind 2000 Guineas winner and leading St Leger contender, Mojito. As such, the 10-furlong St Leger to be contested on July 1, promises a great confrontation between the two and there are still some late-developing three-year-olds likely to have an impact.

Though he welcomed the win as a good indicator that Huntsman is more comfortable over distances, Parsard said it is still a wait-and-see approach with Huntsman regarding the St Leger, as his main target is the blue riband Jamaica Derby over 12 furlongs.

"I didn't think he had a realistic chance against Mojito in the Guineas, I think Mojito is way ahead of the three-year-old crop quite frankly, and I think coming out of the (eight-furlong) shoot, we wouldn't have had much of a chance," he said I'm reference to Huntsman's absence from the opening Classic event.

"We have to be a little bit gingerly with this horse, he has some issues, but we decided to take our chances coming two turns, so we will see, at least he won here so we will keep going. He is making good steady progress, he didn't have a lot of competition so he was allowed to dictate the pace, but in the Classic races, he won't have that luxury so hopefully we will see if he can progress from here.  If he comes out of this well, then we will shoot for the St Leger, but the main objective is the Derby," Parsard added.

Partnered with jockey Reyan Lewis, Huntsman left the gates well and was kept slightly outside Burlap (Dane Dawkins) in the clubhouse turn before gaining the ascendancy on the backstretch.

Despite being in a tight hold, Huntsman continued to widen the gap, especially after leaving the half-mile, and from there it became a mere formality as his rivals had no response to his devastating late kick.

Burlap was best of the rest in second position with From Sheer To Ben (Anthony Thomas) and Life Is Life, finishing third and fourth respectively. 

Huntsman was one of two winners for Lewis on the nine-race card, as the leading rider also won aboard Inspire Force for trainer Philip Feanny in the seventh race.

Also with two winners on the day were former three-time champion jockey Anthony Thomas and current champion jockey Dane Dawkins.

Thomas piloted Aava Jaelyn in the sixth race for trainer Donovan Thompson and Mrs Lyndhurst for trainer Steven Todd in the eighth race, while Dawkins won aboard Casual Peach for trainer Barrington Bernard in the fourth race and Get A Pepsi for trainer Errol Burke in the last race.

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

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