Mr Vivek Jain & trainer Imtiaz A Sait leading Venus Rosewater (Trevor Patel Up), winner of The Maharaja Sir Pratapsingh Gaekwad Trophy
Venus Rosewater (Senure – Zealous) put up another ‘zealous’ performance on her favourite Mahalaxmi track to record her fourth victory on the turf out of five career triumphs. This time however, she changed tactics and raced in the front just behind Moon Flower and stepped it up in the straight to ward off a pack of horses snapping at her tail. Jockey Trevor guided her perfectly and took her to the front only in the final furlong.
Moon Flower led them into the straight and kicked on prolonging her rule at the helm until well past the distance post. Venus Rosewater got closer and in the final 100 m got past the leader. Royal highness and Scarface looked threatening close behind her and Moon Flower too not willing to bow out. The final fifty saw a grueling fight and Venus Rosewater held on bravely to notch her second victory this season from Royal Highness. Moon Flower held on to the third spot a neck ahead of Scholar who was carrying chunks of weight which did him in.
Elena (Alnasr Alwasheek – Intuition) rocketed to score a most stylish victory in the Rosmini Plate, a five-furlong scurry. Elena looked impressive right from the start and shot ahead to lead the field soon on jumping out of the gates. She set about at a fearsome pace and once they entered the home, while the ones chasing her, Lake Leader and Rein In Spain were off the bridle, Elena stretched away from them on a tight rein. She outpaced her rivals comprehensively and won by over 6 lengths without jockey B Prakash having to move a muscle.
Lake Leader ended a faraway second while Royal Honour improved to finish a decent third. Elena stood out and displayed exceptional speed to clock an impressive 58.01, the best timing for yet this season. The Shroff trained Elena certainly was the most impressive winner of the day and seems a right candidate to earn an invitation for the Sprinters’ Cup in Bangalore this March.
Trainer Pesi Shroff struck again with Destiny (Mull of Kintyre – Dynasty) in the Flirting Vision Plate, but not without some anxiety. Hitting the front soon o start, Destiny had Zoom Zoom for company. On straightening up, Destiny quickly left Zoom Zoom behind and sailed into the lead. Jockey Stephane Pasquier had a tough time keeping Destiny on an even keel as the filly started to run green and drifted outward. Sikandar too ran raw and was even more severe in his drift ending almost on the outer railing. Destiny, however, did not relinquish her lead and Pasquier ensured that the filly did not lose momentum. They galloped on well and managed to steer clear of the challenge building up. Blue Ace was the one who finished on best to end a noteworthy second. Snow Mountain edged out Sikandar in a narrow third place finish.
Sledgehammer (Burden of Proof – Saddle Star) came into his own and put in a forceful finish to spoil the party for hot favourite Zakynthos on the last stride. Zakynthos was quick to take the lead and Sledgehammer settled close behind in second. Lake Superior and mountain Warrior were next, followed by Octopaul, Deep Purple and Astapi choosing to stay a close last.
Zakynthos shot away from Sledgehammer past the 400 and Sledgehammer looked struggling to keep up. Lake Superior was getting nowhere and Astapi was yet too far behind. Zakynthos looked safely ahead past the distance post and even inside the last 100. However,, in a sudden surge, Sledgehammer came along with a terrific burst, just in time to pip Zakynthos on the post. Astapi narrowed the margin to end third a length and quarter away.
Veteran trainer SS Shah sent out a fine double and both his wards won impressively yet in a contrasting manner. Endless Horizon (Razeen – Ocean Sunset) completely outclassed her rivals to post a facile victory effortlessly. Not the quickest at the start, Endless Horizon was unperturbed as Mypethoney, Mountain Lion and Quick Returns hurried off ahead. She improved gradually and on turning for home was within striking distance. She struck passing the 400 and unleashed a fiery gallop and stretched away from her rivals adding distance in no time. None could offer any resistance and Endless Horizon scored her maiden victory in a very stylish manner, giving jockey TS Jodha an armchair ride to victory. Ashwa Sakira ran on from the rear to get past the rest to end a faraway second. McQueen too improved a bit to earn place money.
The Shah-Jodha combine struck pay-dirt again the day’s concluding event with Hidden Goodness (Placerville – Riza). El Clasico who was the ante post favourite saw a heavy drift in odds as smart money came pouring in on Hidden Goodness.
Srinath piloted El Clasico to the front and led the field homewards. Hidden Goodness didn't wait too long and soon pounced on the leader and shot ahead, leaving the rest to chase him down if they could. None did. Ocean Power moved up towards the latter half of the straight and narrowed the margin somewhat to run a good second. Capitano ran on to finish third as he kept his nose ahead at the wire from the fast finishing Flying Star.
Brave Vision (Senure – Desert Sunrise) justified the heavy backing he enjoyed and stormed home for a comfortable victory. Brave Vision got straight down to business and always enjoyed a clear upper hand all the way into the homestretch. He came in with a couple of lengths lead and then past the 400, further quickened to stay well ahead of the chasers. Sterling Silver set about in chase but her best was not enough as Brave Vision remained elusive. Star Lady improved from the mid-bunch to end a good third. Zeki missed the plot as he whipped around and stopped galloping after jumping out.
Exuberance (Placerville – Million Girl) posted a victory after three years and 15 outings. He had last won as a three year old in 2008. Over the years Exuberance has been languishing off board in all his runs since his last victory and this victory came about as a surprise.
Bemisaal brought the field homewards but was soon passed by Last Tango. Exuberance, who was stalking the leaders until the turn, came to the fore and was beginning to come into the reckoning. Last Tango was in command and was galloping on with Exuberance looming large on his outside and Distant Promise was lurking behind him.
Past the distance post, Last Tango looked shaky and allowed Exuberance to pass him from the wider outside. Distant Promise too produced a sustained challenge and after a gripping tussle, Exuberance shot ahead to win by half a length. Kite Runner came up with a fast finish to pip Last Tango for the third place, in the nick of time.
Blush (Fasliyev – Eastern Sky) power driven by Trevor, warded a stiff challenge from Daughterofdestiny to score a well earned victory. At the start, Detroit Demon and Kimaya were disputing the lead and Blush followed them a few places behind. The well-backed Tzigane proved a disaster as he fumbled at the start and took no serious part in the race.
Detroit Demon and Kimaya led the field homewards and Adams Prince soon joined these two. Blush was right behind them. Adams prince started to drift outward and Blush seized the opportunity to surface from the middle. Trevor urged Blush and the Naren mare responded to his master’s call and bounded forward. It was a tough fight in the final furlong and Blush successfully thwarted a stubborn attempt from Daughterofdestiny to keep his lead and hit the wire just in time. Adams Prince had himself to blame as he squandered a good opportunity after a lot of hard work to be prominent in the closing stages, only to lose out in a close battle because of an awry finish.
Stylish Strokes nearly pulled off an encore but for a late bid from Auraria, it would have been a second triumph for Stylish Strokes this season. Firemiss misfired yet again and after being at the helm, bowed out in the straight to drop back considerably and finish in the rut.
The battle began midway in the straight, when stylish Strokes quickened to get past the front runners in a hurry. Auraria was on the tail of Stylish Strokes and soon began to gain ground. Jockey Dashrath Singh timed his entry to perfection and in the final 100, zipped past Stylish Strokes with ease. Money Strike came with a lively finishing effort to end close behind Stylish Strokes to end in the money.
For the professionals, trainers Pesi Shroff and SS Shah saddle a double each, as did jockeys TS Jodha and P Trevor.
It was a forgettable day for jockey Richard Hughes. He drew a blank from his five rides for the day. Worse, the Stewards enquiry after the last race of the day resulted in Hughes being suspended for nine meetings. Hughes was charged for ‘Foul Riding’ in the Gitanjali Lifestyle Million (1st Jan 2012) when he elbowed away Zervan astride Elizabeth when the latter closed in on Hughes’ mount Star Trainer. His suspension, with effect from January 22nd to February 26th 2012 (both days inclusive) would mean that he could miss three of the top-notch races – The McDowell Signature premier Indian Derby (Feb 5th), The BCCL & Procam Indian Oaks (Jan 22nd) as well as the Poonawalla Breeders’ Multi Million (Feb 26th). Hughes however, is open to file an appeal against the suspension.