Champion jockey Christopher Alford rode a brilliant finish atop Aromatique to land the spoils in the Retort Handicap on Wednesday while apprentice Mahesh notched up a fine cup-double for trainer Darius Byramji. His winners were Compton Star, which he piloted with great confidence in the Rising Bell Cup, and Romantic Scene, on which he squeezed, forced a narrow passage along the rails to grab the honours in the Predator Cup from Quest For Cash.
In fact, four of the seven races were notched up by apprentices claiming 5kg allowance. The curtain-raiser saw top-weighted Rock Superstar make every post a winning one while the favourite Blood Rayne was all at sea. It may be that the John Stephens ward may prefer a shorter trip.
The Rising Bell Cup saw both Compton Star and Storming Success attracting their fair share of support. At the turning for home, it was Compton Star who was travelling the better of the two. Thereafter, it was a one-horse race.
It was third-time lucky for apprentice Imran Khan who rode Bullet Proof with great aplomb after two narrow failures earlier in the season. Permitting Premier Panache to lead till the turn, Bullet Proof came with a rattle to sail past the winner.
Then came Christopher Alford’s sole winner of the day. He rode Aromatique with the expertise that one normally associates with him. Working on his mount arduously from before the turning for home, Alford switched to the rails just when Italian Star was looking good enough to win.
This superb piece of saddle artistry was overshadowed by Mahesh’s wonderful opportunism — an ability that apprentices are rarely blessed with. He brought Romantic Scene with a great flourish in the final furlong to make it a 1-2-3 for the red-and-gold silks.
Trainer Deepak Karki trebled his tally for the season with a lucrative double in the last two races of the afternoon. Fancied by the connections, Sangoma pegged back the piping hot on-money favourite Black Dahlia. Jockey A.R. Mani’s relentless pressure kept the gelding going when Alford turned on the heat at the distance post.
Jockey D.Ashish brought the curtain down with seven-year-old Thousand Stars to make it a happy ending for Karki and co.