The stage was set for a New Year’s Day to remember and everybody rose to the occasion to make it a great afternoon – not the least our four-legged friends. Over the years, racing has often taken a backseat on this day when the city’s who’s who gather to exchange pleasantries and greetings. On this occasion, however, the thoroughbreds stole the show with a thunderous display of power and grace. The chill and large attendance of 15,000 odd added to the carnival atmosphere, making it one of the most successful New Year’s Day races in recent history.
The afternoon’s main event, The Kunigal Stud Indian Produce Stakes saw Christopher Alford astride the chestnut colt Hall Of Glory make a start-to-finish affair of the six-furlong ace. Stablemate Record Breaker was conveniently gracing the wrong end of the field for a major part and came flying in the final furlong. The winner was one of two favourites to oblige during the afternoon, the other being Kestrel. Both runners were, however, available at lucrative odds. While Hall Of Glory was being quoted at 7/4, Kestrel was at 3/1.
The RCTC Gold Vase was annexed by the vastly improved Rommel. Ruzaan had him handily placed in the third slot while the front-runner Validate and Azureus called the shots till the bend in the 2,200 metres race. The entire scenario changed as heads turned for home. Rommel hit the front and staved off the challenges from Silver Fox, Raghuvansh and Rising Hero - who was ridden in check.
It was a case of morning showing the day as upsets were the order of the day after aged Sense Of Style won the afternoon’s opening event, the upper division of the Star Of Italy Cup. In a surprise move, top-weight apprentice Mahesh took him to the helm of affairs and stayed there till the winning post. Great Heart finished a creditable second. The favourite Lochranza was never in with a chance. Great Heart’s stablemate Italian Striker, made amends for his failure by winning the lower division of the same cup. The half-money favourite Brave Move made a tardy beginning and never fully recovered. He finished runner-up. The Stephens-trained winner was piloted by Md Islam.
Mahesh completed a double by winning the lower division of the Vijay Sicka Memorial Cup astride Aksinya. The Darius Byramji–trained filly was obviously given an easy run against Castle Queen in her previous essay and was ridden to her full potential on this occasion. She collared the pace-setter Glorious Knight after the bend and left the field cold. Once again, the public choice Soldier’s Quest ran like a dud.
Speedy Rithambhra made a start-to-finish affair of the Goodfellas Cup in Pawan Sharma’s hands. She, however, had to fend off a strong challenge from Extraordinaire along the rails. C. Alford atop the latter tried to reverse the verdict in the Stewards Room but his objection held no water and was thrown out of the window. The winner did not get a good start in her last outing and finished a poor fifth. Hence she was available at 12/1.
Kestrel won the lower division of the Sicka Memorial Cup without giving any anxious moments to his followers. He reproduced his excellent trackwork to win as he liked. This was Kamlesh’s first of two wins. He completed his double with a brilliant ride astride Pocket Rocket in the Pat Quinn Memorial Trophy. The sprinter was covered up till the distance post where he moved with giant strides down the centre past Cyclades and co. The disappointment in the race was another poor show from Galashiels.
Royal Charter, who burst his blood vessels during the Monsoon Derby run, came with giant strides down the centre to sail past Secret Whispers and land the Calorescence Cup. The favourite Adriana finished third after being poorly positioned for most part of the seven-furlong race.