Trainer Irfan Ghatala leading Sun Absolute (Suraj Narredu Up), winner of The Chief Minister's Trophy
A beautifully timed run in the last two furlongs of a mile and a quarter event enabled Sun Absolute to land the spoils in The Chief Minister's Trophy, the feature in a long card of eleven races at Bangalore. By running a near perfect race, this talented five year old announced her arrival in the "big league" at this centre. Leading jockey Suraj Narredu's handling of this winner earned him well-deserved laurels on Friday. Some of the best middle distance runners had accepted to participate in this race. A group of nine was headed by the Jaggy Dhariwal trained Arabian Prince. Apart from being the highest rated amongst them, he was known to be a stout stayer. Having won numerous long distance races across the country, he was an obvious choice of the railbirds. His only drawback was the lack of a recent run. The trainer had given Arabian Prince a couple of mock races to sharpen him, but would that be enough to win such a competitive event, was something that one would know only after the race was over. The terms definitely favoured Irfan Ghatala's Sun Absolute. Not only had she run and won this season, she was also lucky to find herself at the bottom of the scales. She was weighted alongside certain horses that she had beaten after conceding weight to them in her recent victory. Since she was being asked to handle a longer trip for the first time in her career, and that too against horses with proven credentials, the bookmakers were generous to offer 7/2 against her. On the basis of his close contest with Arabian Prince at Malakpet, Ganapathy's Ordained One received some support in the betting ring.
The speedy Elite Land did the customary front-running and settled down to lead by a few lengths from Rezoom and Crown Empress. Anthony Crastus held back Arabian Prince on the rails in fourth, while Sun Absolute and Allez Vite raced close behind the favourite. The order remained more or less the same as they tackled the first half of their journey. The pace picked up thereafter. With Rezoom and Crown Empress getting tired near the top of the straight, it was Arabian Prince who made the first move. He charged purposefully towards Elite Land and raised the hopes of his supporters. At almost the same juncture, Suraj produced Sun Absolute on the wide outside, while Allez Vite and Stephane Pasquier tried their best to rally towards the inner rails. Those who expected Elite Land to cave-in under pressure were in for a shock. Under some relentless pressure from Harish, he was seen running the best race of his career. He held sway till they came near the distance post. It was at this juncture that Arabian Prince managed to wrest control, but his advantage was short-lived. Sun Absolute had responded to Suraj's handling and ranged alongside. With both Anthony and Suraj making free use of their whips, the two of them fought gallantly till the wire. Sun Absolute produced that little bit extra to beat Arabian Prince at the post. A mere three parts of a length behind was Elite Land. Arabian Prince is sure to benefit from today's exercise, and it would be safe to assume that he will be a strong contender to lift The Stayer's Cup over the Invitation Weekend scheduled to be held in March at Bangalore.
Even though he was a trifle unlucky to lose the day's feature, Anthony Crastus cornered glory by riding a fine treble on Friday. The Frenchman has come to terms with Indian racing, and seems to have understood that it is always beneficial to ride from the front. He takes a good jump and is quick to occupy an advantageous position from the very beginning. These tactics helped him in winning the day's opener. Last outing winner Aladdin was carrying a penalty into this race. With the Dominic trained Bessie cornering most of the support and starting as an odds-on choice of the punters, Aladdin was freely available at 6's with the bookmakers. The free running Bessie was held in check today. PS Chouhan allowed Midtown Delight, Aladdin and Starscream to lead Bessie into the straight, and made his move astride the favourite only in the final furlong. By this stage, Anthony had taken Aladdin to the front. The filly made heavy weather of her top weight and failed to produce the expected acceleration. She failed to collar Aladdin and had to settle for the second spot ahead of Starscream and Mellonsdelight. The Stewards have asked the stipes to enquire into the running and riding of Bessie, and report back to them at an early date.
The Sangam Trophy, a scurry for maiden three year olds, attracted a full group of a dozen starters. Owner mates, Anonymous and Supreme, were the two fancied runners in this race. Dhariwal trained Anonymous was withdrawn at the gates in a similar event a few weeks ago as he had played up and fallen on his back that day. Making use of an inner draw, Anthony took him to the front today. He raced well within himself while showing the way to Wandering Ways, Spaniard and Supreme. Anonymous was popped the question in the straight, and the colt responded with confidence. Like a seasoned campaigner, he lengthened his strides to account for the Pasquier ridden Supreme. The latter ran a nice race and shapes like a ready-made winner in her next start. The other runner to impress in this race was One From A Billion. The filly came with a nice run to finish a very close fourth behind a hard ridden Spaniard.
Padmanabhan trained Cherelle gave Anthony an armchair ride to victory in the last race of the afternoon. It was the upper division of a seven furlong event for horses in class III. She had won a similar race earlier in the season and was lucky to have escaped with a nominal penalty. The five year old was running against horses in her own age group. With the withdrawal of second favourite Captain's Lover at the gates, Cherelle's job became much easier. She tracked Smart Exotic into the straight before moving further. The jockey pulled Cherelle towards the centre of the track and alerted her with his whalebone. She responded gamely, got into her rhythm and won in a common canter from Fist Of Rage, Sunset Grill and a tired Smart Exotic. The winner looks capable of picking up another race on promotion.
The lower division of the above race went to Arjun Mangalorkar's Gunpowder. The trainer chose to lighten his burden by entrusting him to apprentice Mudassar. Satish Narredu's Super Spectacle was a hot order in this race. He had never been off the board this season, and was expected to win in an ordinary set of runners. Suraj kept the favourite in striking position behind Thrillseeker, and managed to go ahead near the furlong marker. At about the same time, Gunpowder emerged from the chasing pack and moved menacingly towards the outer portion of the track. It was pretty evident that Gunpowder was travelling better than Super Spectacle. He got stronger near the finish to post a comfortable victory. Thrillseeker ended a very close third.
An exceptionally close finish between Inquisition and Shoot Out was witnessed in a seven furlong event for horses in Class IV. The pair of them raced close together throughout this race. Shoot Out was running on demotion, and was therefore carrying the top weight today. Anthony tried his best to make both ends meet, but was unable to contain a strong and determined challenge from Imran Chisty. It was a pleasure to see these two talented riders engaged in a duel. Shoot Out on the rails and Inquisition on his outside strode away from their nine rivals. It was only in the last fifty metres that Inquisition headed Shoot Out and sealed a long overdue victory. Last outing winner Delta Delight finished a tame third, many lengths ahead of Another Voice and the rest of the runners.
The two divisions of a race for horses in the lowest category saw identical victories for Shades Of Scarlet and Sabala. While one was achieved by adopting runaway tactics, the other made a late dash to victory. Shades Of Scarlet displayed remarkable improvement over her known form while making every post a winning one. PS Chouhan refused to take any chances and kept whipping her till they crossed the winning post.
With fancied horses like Pole Position and For An Angel getting tired in the straight, it was left to rank outsider Walter to take the second spot. In the lower division, it was Puttanna's Sabala who stole the show. She came from the rear to sweep past Attaturk and Spark Of Passion. Ryan Marshall rode a neat race astride this winner.
Sharat Kumar's recently acquired Silver Sceptre created a stir by winning his third straight start within a span of six weeks. This five year old was languishing at the bottom of class B, till he was bought by this trainer. While his first two wins were closely contested, his performance today was quite a revelation. He showed that he had improved by leaps and bounds within such a short period of time. With the withdrawal of course favourite Wild Nexus, Silver Sceptre was backed down to first favouritism. Harish Rathod settled him nicely behind a runaway Trillion Win, and made his move after entering the straight. Silver Sceptre sprouted wings to breeze past the leader and won with a measure of comfort. Well supported Windsor Park could do no better than finish a poor third.
The only other race in the day's card was won in an equally emphatic fashion by Prithviraj's Royal Nature. He had been slammed off the betting boards, and his performance on the race grass justified the confidence of his backers. The five year old charged out of the gates and was on a tight leash for most of the way. Jockey Jagadeesh was a mere passenger as Royal Nature carried him past the winning post. A hard ridden Sachimore held onto his second spot ahead of Rubellite and a tired Jeyem. Royal Nature is in terrific form and it will pay to follow him in his next start.