THW: Go Army Conquers in SMB-MARHO Kinse

THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 1 December 2010, Wednesday

Go Army Conquers in Successful SMB-MARHO Kinse

The Metropolitan Association of Race Horse Owners celebrated a milestone last week – its 15th running of the San Miguel Beer-MARHO Cup Championship races at the Philippine Racing Club’s Santa Ana Park in Naic, Cavite,

The racing festival, the biggest such event annually, featured this year nearly 40 trophy races scattered from Thursday to Sunday and its flagship six stakes races on Sunday.

Dubbed “MARHO Kinse: A Celebration of Horseracing”, the championships were dominated by horseowner and breeder Herminio S. Esguerra who bagged three out of six. Mandaluyong Mayor Benhur Abalos won two while Cesar Daniel Castro scored the final win.

Esguerra’s veteran runner Go Army emerged as the victor of the main race, the San Miguel Beer – MARHO Cup Classic, easily conquering six other foes to win the 2,000-meter battle by five lengths.

Heaven Sent sprung clean out of the gate and ran in front by five ahead of the Jonathan Hernandez-steered Go Army, who ran off the pace for most of the way until the home turn when he started moving up and pulled away from the rest of the field.

Go Army (Mr. Sutter – J’Approve) clocked splits of 24’-24-26-27-29 for a total time of 2:10.4. Native Land came in second, followed by a spent Heaven Sent and Defiant in fourth.

Esguerra entries also won two other main races. The Hernandez-guided Dimasalang (Quaker Ridge – Matinee Marvel) triumphed in the Philippine Racing Commission–MARHO Cup Juvenile Filly stakes, and second favorite Gastambide (Enjoyment – Sequin) in the 3YO Colt Mile.

Abalos fielded Barkley (Baseball Champion-Treeline) in the Philracom-MARHO Cup Juvenile Colt stakes. Barkley was sent off as the second choice and won by a length-and-a-half over third-placer Arvin Dugo. The favorite, Lord of War, came in third.

Redemption (Sailaway-Fire Down Under), half-sister to champion Ibarra and another Abalos stable star and also second pick in the sales, was victress of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office-MARHO Cup 3YO Filly Mile, winning by ¾ length over top pick Westerly Wind, May Bukas Pa, and Woodsy Ribbon.

Castro’s EJ’s Magic (Self Feeder – Heir Apparent) made MARHO history by scoring a three-peat in the Sprint, being the only frontrunner to overcome strong winds last Sunday and hit the wire first. He duplicated the feat of Ariba King who won three-in-a-row from 2002-2005.

The savvy 6YO chestnut sprinter ran as third favorite and posted splits of 12’-21’-26’ for a total time of 1:00.7.

The MARHO breeders’ trophies went to Esguerra’s Herma Farms & Stud, which bred Dimasalang, Gastambide, Go Army, and EJ’s Magic; and to Abalos, whose ranch produced both Barkley and Redemption.

Thanks to a stellar lineup and strong sponsor, participant, and aficionado support, “MARHO Kinse” logged vigorous betting handle figures, a mark of event success.

The six-day raceweek’s sales were pegged at P160.7 million for a week without betting carryovers while Sunday’s were over P37.39 million. MARHO’s record for Sunday sales is over P45 million, set in 2005 at the old Santa Ana Park racetrack in Makati City.

In keeping with this year’s crystal anniversary theme, the winning horseowners of the six championship races were awarded heavy glass crystal vases while the breeders were awarded sparkling Swarovski crystal horse figurines presented in sapphire blue boxes.

The racing festival was initially staged in 1996, the brainchild of MARHO chairman mayor Leonardo “Sandy” Javier Jr. and president emeritus Aristeo G. Puyat as a scheme for providing incentives and encouragement to local Thoroughbred breeders to improve the quality of the racehorses they were producing.

Since then, in the face of economic and other challenges, MARHO has continued with the program, providing millions of pesos in prize money annually for the winners and placers of the event. Breeders, for their part, have responded over the years by bringing in quality horses from abroad to boost local bloodstock.

The six championships are open only to Philippine-bred horses, and to be nominated to the MARHO gives foals an added cachet at auctions and sales.

This year’s event sponsors were San Miguel Corporation, Philracom, PCSO, Santa Ana Park, Hygain Feeds, and the Ciara Marie Foundation. The MARHO board of directors – Mayor Sandy Javier, chairman; Eric Tagle, president; Antonio de Ubago, executive vice-president and treasurer; Antonio Tan, VP-Racing; Manny Santos, VP-Membership; Atty. Ramon Bagatsing Jr., VP-Special Projects and corporate secretary; Victor Ferrer Jr., auditor; directors Jesus Ramon Mamon, Macario Asistio, Cong. Amado Bagatsing, Jose Maria Franco, Vicente Go Bon, Enrique Javier, Cong. Jeci Lapus, and Robert Ramirez -  thank all the sponsors and everyone who participated and helped make MARHO Kinse the most successful horseracing event of the year so far.

For those who wish to view the “San Miguel Beer-MARHO Kinse” souvenir magazine, search for “Gogirl Racing” on Facebook for the link.   ***

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