Trainer C D Katrak leading Arts (Suraj Narredu Up), winner of Rose Royal Trophy
Arts (Ontario – Shanley), owned by Gautam Thapar and Sultan Singh and trained by CD Katrak, sent a strong field of rivals packing to clinch the Rose Royal Trophy in great style. A tough dozen went to post for the feature event of the day. Arts was indeed the firm favourite quoted at about 6/4. Arts surely justified that faith and how! Schnell led a closely tucked field with El Tropico, Agha, Spirituall, Ming and Blue Danube all huddled closely together. Arts came next with Scholar for company.
The top weight Mr Greedy raced at the tail-end detached from the bunch. Schnell escorted them homeward and retired. El Tropico produced a spirited run and shot ahead quickly. Blue Danube went all out but found it tough to catch up with El Tropico. Arts then made his charge and covered ground briskly to be alongside El Tropico just past the distance post.
Arts simply sailed away and was unperturbed by a slightly erratic El Tropico who even jostled with Arts for a stride or two. Arts drew away convincingly to register a facile victory. While El Tropico ended a fighting runner-up, Scholar and Mr Greedy did well too to take the minor placing. Mr Greedy in particular finished on very well from the rear to grab a slot in the frame. Mr Gautam Lala, member of the managing committee, gave away the trophy to the winners.
Dashrath Singh has been around for quite a while and I reckon his talent has always been underestimated. He loves to keep a low profile and prefers to have his riding bat for him. He is a good judge of ace, calm and reliable. It was good to see him earn the first double of the season, booting home Ecstatica and Royal Highness back to back.
Ecstatica (Senure – Star Shine), owned by the Mistrys of the Manjri Farm, was Imtiaz Sait’s lone representative for the day. Although the mare picked up a couple of races in Mumbai, she had disappointed thereafter and even lost the chance of being nominated for the Sprinters’ Cup. She, however, made ample amends on the opening day with jockey Dashrath ably guiding her to a last stride victory. Highland Music and Highland Flame cornered a lot of support but some smart money did come on Ecstatica at race time. Highland Music expectedly hit the front soon on start, closely followed by Highland Flame and Wild Torronaado.
Dashrath was unperturbed at the fast clip and kept Ecstatica down the field. In the straight, Highland Music was just beginning to assert his superiority over owner-mate Highland Flame when Dashrath produced Ecstatica on the wider out to peg back Highland Music on the post. Royal Highness (Royal Kingdom – Romantic Heights), owned by Mr and Mrs Shapoor Mistry and Mr Sharooq Khan, and trained by Altaf Hussain, scored a well-fought victory in the Storm plate Div I.
The nine runners ran in a close bunch with Cape Ferret and Emerald Valley disputing the lead. Into the straight, Emerald Valley soon took charge but a dual challenge was lurking. Royal Highness and favourite Ocean Star were all out in chase. They caught up with the leader midway up the straight and after a brief tussle Dashrath Singh got Royal Highness to accelerate away from Emerald Valley. Emerald Valley did well to stave off the favourite Ocean Star and retain the runner-up berth.
The Div II of the Storm Plate was claimed by the universal choice – Showstopper (Namid – La Pieta). The filly from Narendra Lagad’s yard is owned by Ranjeet Raut, ST Shivaprasad, Banwait Singh and PA Ruia. Showstopper showed good early speed and raced to the front soon on start. Jockey Ladjadj Stephane eased her into a nice rhythm and kept her going without exerting too much out of the filly.
When the race took a serious turn, the main challenge came from C’est La Vie nearing the distance post. Showstopper, however, had enough left in her and with a crack or two raced away from her challengers which included second in demand Alice Springs as well. C’est La Vie looked a trifle heavy in the paddock, yet did well to add a little pep in the straight. She should strip fitter after this run and would be worth watching her in her next outing.
Finfoot (Catain Rio – Shark Games), owned by Christline Glenn and Mr Mehernosh Deboo, showed a clean pair of heels to clinch the last race of the day in splendid fashion. Little Warrior and Finfoot raced in the front from the start and entered the homestretch together. Tattenhoe was a close third. Once into the straight, Finfoot accelerated extremely well and looked the winner long way from home.
Jockey Parmar used the whip only to keep her from being erratic and Finfoot won unchallenged. Tattenhoe kept going to end a decent second. Super King came from a long way back to finish a notable third. Little Warrior disappoint and let down a large following. He was in box seat at the turn but just could not produce any worthwhile gallop. Mypethoney (Case Law – Divine Honey) put her initial burst to good use and warded off a stiff challenge from Manitou Splendour.
Hitting the front as the gates flung open, Mypethoney was soon joined by Manitou Splendour and the duo dictated a fairly good pace, leading the rest by a good three lengths or so. The race looked confined to the pair as both went for broke and kept the others at bay. National Ikon watched helplessly as the pair in front kept going towards the post.
Both Mypethoney and Manitou Splendour battled hard and the former, owned by Mr Nandalal Khandelwal, Kr Digvijay Singh Shekhawat and the trainer Magan Singh Jodha held on grimly to win an exciting battle. Jockey CS Jodha playing an important role in that victory. The first race of the season – The Everything Plate, gave an auspicious start to the followers of money.
Favourite Rising Glory (Black Cash – Serious Trouble), owned and trained by HJ Antia, proved to be the fittest of the lot as he led from the word go and stretched further away as they entered the straight. Candy Floss ran on to not only claim the runner-up berth but also cut down the lead to just about a length. This was a noteworthy effort from Candy Floss and it would pay to follow him in his next assignment.
Blau Himmel (Royal Kingdom – Calais), owned by the Talatis and trained by Dallas Todywalla, won a closely fought finish from Roses All The Way. Favourite Hi Dolly lost over five lengths at the start and with all her chances of making it. Roses All The Way called the shots until the straight and had Blau Himmel in tow all along the journey. Into the straight, Blau Himmel came up with a strong challenge with jockey M Narredu going for a break with a little over a furlong to go.
Dashrath Singh atop Roses All The Way fought bravely till the end and went down fighting. It was generally a good day at the races. The weather in Pune is very pleasant and there is a fresh look about the racecourse as well. All the winners in the day were a fancied lot.
There was no upset and the bookmakers offered lucrative odds on the winners. There were only two on-money horses – Showstopper and Ocean Star. The crowd was in good number and were pretty vocal as the backed horses zipped past the stands to thrill the punters at the finish.