Tue | Apr 7, 2020

Not a two horse race - Nunes expects tougher challenge for trainers’ title in 2020

Published:Tuesday | January 7, 2020 | 12:30 AMRobert Bailey/Gleaner Writer

After finally securing his first trainers’ championships title last month, Anthony ‘Baba’ Nunes is bracing for an even tougher battle this year, as he looks to add to last year’s success.

Nunes, who finished behind Wayne DaCosta in the championship race on 11 straight occasions before breaking his duck in 2019, says a less dominant crop of three-year-olds and continued improvements from the other top trainers at Caymanas Park will guarantee that the 2020 Trainers’ Championships will not be a two-horse race this time around, with himself and DaCosta facing serious threat from their peers.

Nunes won the title with total earnings of $86,095,840 along with 86 winners, to dethroned DaCosta, who ended the campaign in second place with overall earnings of $78,028,275 and 77 winners. Nunes’ win ended DaCosta’s streak of 13 consecutive titles.

Gary Subratie was a distant third, with earnings of $52, 218,710 and 52 winners followed Patrick Lynch with $28,330,375 and 40 winners.

“I expect that it is going to be difficult because we don’t have the crop of three-year-olds like we had last year,” said Nunes, who noted that a number of other trainers have been improving over the years and can now count on a number of good horses in their stables.

“We had a phenomenal of crop of three-year-olds last year and they stayed healthy for the majority of time and we were able to succeed with that,” Nunes stated. “We certainly don’t have that level of three-year-olds this year, but we do have a nice filly in ABOVE AND BEYOND and have a few nice colts that have not raced yet.”

KEEPING TITLE

Nunes, who dedicated his maiden title to his 90-year-old mother Phylis Nunes, agrees that a tighter and deeper title race, will have a positive impact on local racing. The champion trainer, however, underlined that having secured the title, he is determined to keep hold of the reins.

“Gary Subratie is getting close to us (DaCosta and I) every day. Ian Parsard is also getting closer and so we certainly have competition that is getting closer to us and that is best for racing because you want to have competition ... so this is good for racing,” Nunes added.

Subratie is the trainer of champion two-year-old WOW WOW.

Nunes, whose father Nigel also won a Trainers’ Championship in 1976, says he is focused on retaining his crown despite the challenge ahead.

“They (Trainers’ title) are very difficult to win and obviously, we are trying to win it every year. We have high expectations for ourselves every year because it is not that we only tried to win it last year,” said Nunes, who guided SUPREME SOUL to last year’s Triple Crown.

“We have been trying to win it for my 25 years of training obviously. I would say that the last five years, I have been more equipped with numbers and quality of horses and great staff and support staff, plus owners and clients who continue to invest in me,” Nunes stated. “We will continue to try and win races and if that means winning championships, then so be it.”

After two racedays for far this year, Nunes has the early lead in the Trainers’ Championship, with $1,521,150 in stakes and two wins from 15 starts.