The Calcutta races got off to a jerky start as the starting stalls failed to open smoothly for the main event, The Glotik Cup. A few runners failed to come out of the stalls. Being the first day, one would have to excuse the officials for this lapse but one sincerely hopes that it won’t be repeated during the season as it leaves a sour taste in the mouth. Other than that, racing was pretty fair and square with outsiders ruling the roost.
Trainer Patrick Quinn was the most successful professional as he notched up a lucrative double with Great Heart and Bella Italiana. In the curtain-raiser, The Alibi Handicap, Bath-trained Prospective Lad was backed to the exclusion of all others. He closed at 6/4.
Legendary Emperor was the second favourite at 4/1. While the favourite made a tardy beginning, the ‘Emperor’ was placed handily behind the front-running Great Heart. The latter was being piloted by Sk Israil who is not eligible for allowance any more, but he probably rode a more determined race than when he was an apprentice. Roxy came from mid-division to occupy the runner-up berth.
The second race of the afternoon, The Dangerous Romance Handicap, saw Christopher Gleich-trained (and owned) Grand Pere land the spoils in dramatic fashion. The 10-year-old also provided new migrant from Mumbai – Shailesh Shinde – his first win at this centre with his first ride. Javed Khan-trained Royal Ballerina was backed heavily in this race but she failed to justify her favouritism. Front-running Jump-Away and Swiss King fought out the issue till 100 metres from home before Grand Pere quashed all their hopes.
Both of Quinn’s runners, Donna Italiana and Bella Italiana, were being fancied cautiously by racegoers in the ring. However, it was Daniel David-trained All Diamonds who closed as the hot favourite. The second fancied runner was Vikash Jaiswal-trained All In The Stars. Neither had any answer to Bella Italiana’s speed when Imran Chisty set her alight. She ran away for a comfortable victory.
David’s Fly For Sure was the joint-favourite with Pocket Rocket in the race for the Sweet Senorita handicap. The first-named collared runaway Rithambhra near the distance post and shaped like a winner before Vinay Jaiswal brought the neglected Moment Of Love from his brother’s yard with a thunderous gallop on the wide outside.
The afternoon ended with Arti Doctor-trained Royal Saga making it a start-to-finish affair in the five-furlong sprint for the Sophisticated Lady Handicap. Stablemate Bayberry and Mandira were the joint favourites but neither had any answer to Royal Saga’s early speed. He did drift out in the closing stages of the race but Md Islam kept him going with the use of the stick. Best Bet was a creditable second and will be worth following in the future.