King Arthur royal in upset Jamaica Derby triumph

By Lance Whittaker October 31, 2020
Jockey Philip Parchment stands tall aboard King Arthur in upset win in Saturday’s 100th Jamaica Derby at Caymanas Park. Jockey Philip Parchment stands tall aboard King Arthur in upset win in Saturday’s 100th Jamaica Derby at Caymanas Park.

Carlton Watson’s gelding King Arthur flourished in sloppy conditions Saturday to slam the field in an 18-1 upset in the 100th Jamaica Derby at Caymanas Park that lifted top trainer Wayne DaCosta’s tally of Classic winners to 28.

Under first-time Derby-winning jockey Philip Parchment, King Arthur surged past the front-running filly Another Affair at the eighth pole and won the JA$6.5 million (US$45,000) Derby by a half-length over St Leger winner Nipster. Another Affair was a further 1-1/2 lengths back in third and Oneofakind fourth. The 9-5 favourite Wow Wow ended sixth.

King Arthur clocked two minutes 33.20 for the 12-furlong trip on a track made sloppy because of heavy afternoon showers.

“He had won in the mud (before) so after the rain and the track became very sloppy, I gave him an excellent chance,” ex-champion trainer DaCosta said after a seventh Derby victory that reignites his bid to challenge for the trainers’ championship title.

The lone filly in the field Another Affair at 40-1 odds cruised into the lead out of the starting gates under jockey Jerome Innis and was two lengths ahead of the stalking pair of King Arthur and Mahogany (4-1) as the 10-horse field passed the stands for the first time.

Behind the front three, Wow Wow raced in a four-horse group with joint 2-1 second-favorites Nipster and Oneofakind and Money Monster (38-1).

Another Affair, who was runner-up in both Fillies Classics – the 1000 Guineas and the Oaks – in the summer, accelerated down the backstretch to lead by over three lengths at the half-way stage, tracked by Mahogany followed by King Arthur and a quickening Oneofakind. Another Affair’s stablemates Wow Wow and Nipster were fifth and seventh respectively at that stage.

Another Affair kept her clear advantage approaching the final bend and as Mahogany faded, King Arthur and Oneofakind accelerated toward the lead.

King Arthur was the first to pounce on the leader early in the home stretch and while Nipster quickened with a motoring rail run reminiscent of his upset St Leger triumph last month, Another Affair appeared to lose some momentum when the whip flew from her rider’s left hand.

Parchment’s aggressive ride with right-hand whipping roused King Arthur past Another Affair who resisted briefly before fast-closing Nipster applied considerable pressure in the run to the finish.

“I can’t explain (my emotions), I am overjoyed,” Parchment said moments after only his second Classic triumph. He had won aboard Princess Annie in the 2019 Oaks for the same Watson/DaCosta combination.

Parchment, who won the Most Improved Rider award for 2019 at Caymanas Park, was aboard King Arthur for the first time in a race but his familiarity with the gelding on the exercise track served him well in the season’s last Classic.

“I am the one who has been working him in the morning. I kind of understand him. I know what he can and what he cannot do. When I saw how the rain was falling I knew he loves this and he was gonna enjoy this,” Parchment said.

With the win, DaCosta sliced into Anthony Nunes’s trainers’ championship lead which stood at JA$5.3 million (US$36,000) entering the Derby raceday. DaCosta also landed Saturday’s co-feature SVREL Sprint Trophy with England’s Rose to climb to JA$36.31m (US$251,000) in 2020 purse earnings and within striking distance of Nunes’s JA$37.68m (US$261,000).

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