Harresh N Mehta and Trainer S. Padmanabhan leading Becket (David Allan Up), winner of The Poonawalla Bangalore Derby(Grade-I)
The much anticipated clash between the wonder filly Jacqueline and the hitherto unbeaten Becket is likely to materialize on the Mahalakshmi race track on the first Sunday of February. Barring unforeseen circumstances, the two will meet in The Indian Derby. The decision to take Becket to Mumbai was announced by trainer Padmanabhan after the success of this well-bred (Hawk Wing-Boiling River) colt in The Poonawalla Bangalore Derby on Republic Day. Becket dispelled all doubts about his fitness and the ability to "stay" by posting an easy victory in this race. He won without raising a sweat, and generated a lot of excitement in the huge crowd that had gathered to witness this performance.
Star Assembly, Cabriolet, Star Alliance and Youre So Beautiful paid hefty amounts to come in as final entries in this prestigious race. The doubts over Becket's participation continued to persist, and this had enthused the others to throw their hats in the ring. The colt had been withdrawn just prior to the acceptance stage in The Bangalore 2000 Guineas, and his not so regular appearances on the training track continued to mystify the racing professionals. The picture became clearer on the day of his final preparatory gallop. Becket clocked a superb timing on the outer sand and rested all speculation about his fitness. Although he had never raced beyond a mile, his master never doubted his ability to tackle the longer trip. The final acceptors sheet confirmed that Becket was running. The bookmakers were quick to install him as an on-money favourite ahead of Youre So Beautiful, Star Alliance and Cabriolet.
Youre So Beautiful and Sterlitzia were the only ones in this group who had actually run over this trip in The Bangalore Oaks. There was hardly any early pace in this race, as the lowest rated First Of A Legend showed the way to Strelitzia, Moon Memories, Youre So Beautiful and Gershwin. Favourite Becket was ambling along in mid group and David Allan was content to keep him on the rails. The scene began to take shape near the three furlong marker. With the front-runners coming to a literal crawl, Suraj Narredu had no choice but to allow Youre So Beautiful to hit the front and cruise ahead of Gershwin. The filly was put in top gear and she began to power away from her pursuers. At the same time, Becket had been steadily improving on the rails.
David Allan relaxed his hold on this champion, and he began to move forward. Within a fraction of a second, he loomed alongside the leader. It ceased to be a contest thereafter, as Becket responded to his jockey's call and lengthened his strides to canter away from Youre So Beautiful. Gershwin ran a creditable race while accounting for the rest of the runners. Most of the others were crawling at the end of this energy sapping trip. Trainer Padmanabhan has always thought highly about the capabilities of this colt. He had taken him to Mumbai last year to have a tilt at The Poonawalla Multimillion. Becket had developed sore shins just prior to that race and had to be rested. A string of niggling problems have seen him on and off the track. In a post race interview, the trainer acknowledged the help and support of David Allan in bringing the best out of this champion.
Despite his bandaged legs, the colt was looking a picture in the paddock. Padmanabhan is hugely optimistic about Becket improving from his current mark, and running a big race in The Indian Derby. The rest of the afternoon was studded with trophy events. The Mysore Race Club Trophy was the biggest amongst them. It was a terms race for horses in the highest class to be run over a mile. Suleiman Attaolahi decided to have a crack at this event with Cielo Rey. He was unbeaten this season and had been showing improvement with each run. Cielo Rey was the only one in this group who was yet to win a race in Class I. This somehow jeopardised his chances, as he was racing against horses who were rated much higher than him and were hugely benefited by the terms of this event. Spark Of Gold was a formidable opponent and had sound credentials. However, the punters were not bothered.
They backed Cielo Rey with gay abandon and sent him out as an even-money chance to land the spoils. The favourite paid back the compliment by scoring an impressive victory. Chris Hayes lost little time in taking him to the front and dictating terms till the very end. Spark Of Gold chased him till the final furlong before flopping under pressure. Cielo Rey paid a nice compliment to his trainer by graduating into graded company. Our Little Savage and Splendid Surprise ended behind the winner. Another interesting race was a maidens event over six furlongs. The Ted Fordyce Cup attracted some fine youngsters, who looked nice in the paddock. Awarding, Tempus Fugit and Couleur Rouge had shown some form by running on board in an earlier start.
The others were making their debut today. Based on some fine trackwork, first-timers Immense and Americus shared the place at the top of the betting boards. The two of them led till the bend before feeling the pressure. The experienced trio went ahead at that stage, and after a minor battle for supremacy, Prakash-ridden Awarding sailed ahead of Couleur Rouge and Tempus Fugit. Incidentally, Awarding was the first juvenile from Ganapathy's yard to win a race at Bangalore. Immense and Americus shall benefit from this experience and can be expected to improve in the coming weeks. The day started with the two divisions of a seven-furlong race for older horses in Class III. Prithviraj's Sparklingadventure showed remarkable improvement by trouncing a trio of well-fancied runners. His blinding speed was too much for Man United, Glory Bound and Voice Of India. John settled him into a nice lead, and the horse got stronger with the passage of time.
Srinath used similar tactics astride Greens in the other division. He too managed to win with Greens, but not before getting a serious fright. Greens lead began to diminish rapidly in the straight as Caspian Sea was seen flashing onto the scene. The final verdict of a neck allowed Puttanna to lead-in his first winner of the season. Caspian Sea, who showed a welcome return to form, must be noted for an early success. Derby winning owner Harresh Mehta had Peacemaker and Greenbro running in the two divisions of The NRCE Cup. Both the horses were the medium of king-size gambles in their respective races. Padmanabhan-trained Peacemaker wilted under pressure and finished off the board in a race won by Defiance.
This ward from Neil Darashah's yard had shown sparkle in his last start, and with Suraj there to guide him today, came with giant strides to tackle and sail past the front-running Bolzano. The rest of the runners finished way behind the first two. Amit Caddy's Greenbro gave his connections a few anxious moments before gathering speed at a vital stage of the race. Early leader Ice Mint was refusing to yield till well into the straight. Gaurav Sapra refused to give up, and continued to coax Greenbro with hope and vigour. The top-weighted horse got up on the last two strides to win in a three-way finish. Rumour Proof came with a late bid to pip Ice Mint at the post. The last-named was unfortunate to miss the kick at the start, but for which, the filly would have turned the tables on the winner. Rumour Proof will be too good to miss at a lower weight in the higher class. A nice gamble was landed on Md Abbas's Scimitar.
Running in The Indian Republic Trophy, this horse was backed with confidence by those in the know. The highly handicapped horse had never won over a mile and a quarter. The six year-old had been given a couple of forward runs in the earlier part of the season, and entrusted to Samuel Fargeat today. The Frenchman decided to keep him in touch with Spark Of Reverence and Raptor Force till the bend before pushing him into a good lead. A late effort from Dante's Peak saw the lead diminishing with each stride, but was still good enough to give Scimitar his first success in eighteen months. Favourite Porobello ran a poor race to finish off the frame.