Oriental Dawn (Y S Srinath Up), winner of The Star Of Gwalior Trophy
Oriental Dawn (Diktat – Belvedere Vixen), ridden by YS Srinath and trained by Nina Lalvani, forced his way through the thick of things to out-run his rivals and dust away the late challenger, Enchanted and win the Star Of Gwalior Trophy, the first trophy race of the season. Oriental Dawn was confidently backed and was the firm favourite. As Banana Boy, Reinstate, Ashwa Puskar formed the lead lot, Oriental Dawn settled in the mid-bunch until the final turn. Banana Boy wilted soon on turning for home and Reinstate took the lead. Soon Enchanted put his best foot forward and was shaping well. Oriental Dawn was behind horses and was fortunate to find an inviting passage as Reinstate shifted out approaching the final furlong. Srinath was vigorous in his riding and seized the opportunity to force his way to the front. There was a keen tussle as Enchanted provided a good fight, but Oriental Dawn got stronger in the final fifty to draw away from Enchanted to score convincingly.
Thunder Strike finished alongside Enchanted to take home the place money without sweat. Legionnaire gained places and finished one off the frame coming in from the rear. He covered good ground and this run should hold him in good stead for his next outing.
Pune champion trainer Narendra Lagad missed the first day action due to a minor ailment and spent the day in a hospital. Indiarace wishes him a quick recovery. Despite his absence, Lagad did make his presence felt with a lucrative hat-trick. He was represented by nephew Vinay Lagad in the paddock, who was busy leading in winners in the third, fourth and fifth races.
Creme De La Creme (Royal Gladiator – Quite Fancy) set the trend with an emphatic victory in the Div II of The Agni Plate. As expected, he shot to the front at a fair clip with Captain Smart and Ashwa Prahar in tow. Coming into the straight, Creme De La Creme sped ahead and kept the momentum going. None could chase her down. Ocean Of Faith tried hard but could make no impression on the winner. Ashwa Prahar hung on to the third, while Hickory moved up a few notches to end being in the frame.
Gloria (Diffident – La Unique) shared the prime focus of the betting ring with Marudhara Ratan and the duo duly took the top positions in the end result. River Gem led the field with Gloria, Towering High, Pound Foolish and Marudhara Ratan following closely. River Gem fell back once they turned for home and Gloria, with Harish Rathod atop, sailed into the lead working up good acceleration. Rathod pushed on ahead and got Gloria to the safety of a comfortable lead coming into the final furlong. Marudhara Ratan and Pound Foolish gained ground at a brisk pace, but Rathod’s tactics of ensuring the lead of couple of lengths early in the straight paid off. Marudhara Ratan finished on just a length from Gloria rubbing shoulders with Pound Foolish at the winning post.
Moment To Remember (Ontario – Momentarily) got the measure of favourite Ocean Trail with apprentice Srikant Kamble making no mistake as he stepped up pace coming into the homestretch. Aleutian Zone made way for Moment To Remember soon on turning for home and the Lagad-trainee bounded forward towards the wire. Soon Ocean Trail came into the picture and started to chase the leader down. That was not to be as Moment To Remember finished on steadily and was home comfortably. Apprentice jockey Srikant Kamble seems to have improved his riding skills and rode a neat race.
Royal Prince impressed most with a late flourish and was the fastest moving horse across the Grand Stands. He put a fierce burst and his pleasing final spurt did show signs that it might be a good idea to mark him for his next run. And if it’s a similar bunch, he would be a cinch!
Both divisions of the Monica Plate for maiden three-year-olds saw hot favourites going down to lesser fancied rivals. Both the favourites found one better. While Blessed was completely outpaced in the Div I, Highway Express went down fighting.
Josephine (Kheleyf – Attitude Of Blue) in the Shirke silks showed great alacrity at the start and shot out pronto to take the lead. Blessed took a while and worked her way to second as they turned for home. Charlie Cool, who was right with the front-runners, took the turn wide and lost his chances there. Josephine quickened further and established a handy lead and looked the winner mid-way up the straight. Blessed had no chance in cutting down the huge margin and finished on a tame second. With this fine performance, Josephine, trained by MK Jadhav, may have scored the first of her triumphs and looks a good prospect to add a few more. Blessed was well and truly out-paced. Ashwa Prajot improved towards the end and saved the place money.
Highway Express was shocked close home in an interesting duel by Suki Suki (Senure – Flensburg). The duo hit the front and fought out the entire race, with the others just hopelessly lagging. Highway Express and Suki Suki entered the straight abreast and went all out in out-doing each other. It was a gripping battle and the slender advantage kept swaying one way to the other. It was only in the final few strides that Rajendra manage to get a bit extra out of Faisal Abbas-trained Suki Suki to edge out Highway Express by a neck. Suki Suki’s determined effort augurs well and she is right on her way to achieve more. Adams Vision earned the place money staying on just ahead of Swagger who did not do much of note. Swagger looked a trifle gross in the paddock and may have needed this run to get into shape.
Blue Mellon (Blue Mellon – Yvresse) started the proceedings for the season on an auspicious note from the punters’ point of view. He carried a large public purse on his back and won without causing anxiety. Atlantic Star and Etiquette stuck to each other right from the outset until they turned for home. Blue Mellon was not too far behind as was Musical Rhapsody. Into the straight, Atlantic Star hung on to the front while Etiquette was yet to find his bearings. Blue Mellon, under some strong urging from apprentice MA Roushan, started to cover ground purposefully and at the distance post gained control of the proceedings. Blue Mellon galloped on to beat the opposition with a measure of comfort. Musical Rhapsody finished on with a spirited run to finish a length behind Blue Mellon.
Western Challenge (Razeen – Athabasca) cruised to an emphatic victory clearly establishing his superiority over his rivals. Trevor settled him unhurriedly at the tail of the front pack and made steady and timely progress in the second half of the race. Up North and Apache Indian, who were at the helm until the turn, shot their bolts and withered away. Soon Western Challenge assumed charge and once he came the fore, it was all over. Daughterofdestiny tried hard but made no impact while finishing second, a good three and quarter lengths away. Arzaan held on grimly to claim place money.
Imtiaz Sait celebrated his high-profile Kingfisher Bangalore Derby triumph with a victory with his only representative on the first day. Silver Soul (Burden Of Proof – Ceil Fleuri) tailed the leader San Rafael closely until the turn, then quickened well to get past for the lead early in the straight. Steely Dan was produced on the outside by Srinath but he had to cover the two-length advantage that Dashrath Singh had accumulated. Dashrath managed to keep Silver Soul ahead despite Steely Dan’s late charge to prevail by half a length. Prince Of Troy moved up to claim the third place.
For the professionals, Narendra Lagad walked away with prime honours with three from his stables returning victorious. Faisal Abbas recorded a double as did jockey P Trevor.