Mr. Vijay B Shirke & Mr K N Dhunjibhoy leading Elizabeth (Stephane Pasquier Up), winner of The Sahaan Multi-Million
The Sahaan Multi-Million lived up to its promise and saw a thrilling finish. Elizabeth (Glory of Dancer – Queenscliff) surfaced from the dead-last position to wrest the race that appeared safely in Star Trainer’s clasp until the last couple of strides. Star Trainer shot into the lead and set up a fiery pace soon on settling down. Beautiful Stranger joined alongside and the rest followed in close order, Elizabeth at the tail end of the field.
Star Trainer built a handy lead coming into the straight and held a clear advantage over Beautiful Stranger, who was right there, but not getting anywhere. The heavy impost he was carrying proved a burden. Black Magic Woman was close behind in third, but failed to generate her known flourish. Ciel Indienne too was not making any headway. Black Magic woman was trying hard but making no impression on Star Trainer. Just when it looked like Star Trainer was safe, Elizabeth unleashed her best and stormed past Star Trainer to win by half a length. Star Trainer was overwhelmed literally two strides from the winning post. Hatsuhana too made a lively final dash and improved considerably, to run a close third, pegging back Beautiful Stranger.
Speed Six who took off well at the start, settled in the mid-bunch. Much later, Speed Six jostled with Rajasthan Royals in the homestretch resulting in him being awkwardly hampered. That check proved expensive as jockey Anthony Crastus, sensing something amiss with Speed Six, chose to take precautionary action and sacrificed his attempt at going on full throttle. He eased Speed Six up, obviously reading that Speed Six was in no position to continue in the same vein as the others in the race. It may be recalled that speed six had been withdrawn from the Kingfisher Derby last year owing to a foot injury. This may have prompted Anthony Crastus not to press Speed Six.
“She responded in a brilliant fashion” said jockey Stephane Pasquier. She had settled magnificently, and I was not worried at being in the last position. The trainer had told me that since it was a smaller field, I need not worry about positions. That gave me the freedom and I managed to preserve her best for the last. She really bounded forward powerfully and although Star Trainer was well ahead, I knew I could get him eventually” he concluded.
Pesi Shroff had two other winners before Elizabeth won him the feature event. Hennessy (Placerville – Native Tactics) made her first appearance in Mumbai count despite a broken blood vessel. Zervan took Hennessy to the front soon on start a maintained a firm grip on the proceedings. Into the straight, Hennessy quickened well and Smart Hunter tried hard to match strides with the Shroff ward. He could not hang on long enough and as Hennessy stretched further away, it seemed all was over as there was no visible threat lurking.
Somewhere around this juncture, Hennessy must have broken a blood vessel. Fortunately, she had a safe cushion and the late bid of Persian could not topple her, although she had slowed down a tad. Hennessy held on to win by less than a length in the end.
Stromboli (Bertolini – My Hansel) was the second of the three winners that the Shroff stables saddled. She was judiciously handled by Crastus who timed his challenge precisely to return triumphant. The early running was done by Spook and Lake Superior, with Snow Blaze hanging around close behind the duo. As they turned for home, Spook bowed out and it was later announced that Spook too had broken a blood vessel.
Lake Superior was strongly challenged by Snow Blaze and these two seemed heading for a tight finish. Stromboli galloped on the rails still a couple of lengths in deficit. Arctic Minstrel was also seen flexing his muscles. At the distance post, while Lake Superior and Snow blaze were still engaged in a severe battle, Stromboli gathered momentum and joined these two. Arctic Minstrel too was within the vicinity. However, the final push for victory came when Crastus got Stromboli to accelerate further and the Mallya filly bounded forward to sail away for a comfortable victory.
Jockey Richard Hughes had a mixed day, winning two of his four fancied mounts. His first winner came as late as the seventh race of the day – the Ahmed Rahimtoola Trophy Div I, when he partnered the favourite Snow Princess (Warrshan – Seriously Nicole) to a well deserved victory.
Joining Afrojack soon on settling down, Snow Princess looked in good nick as she effortlessly ambled alongside the leader. Astromia was racing behind these two along with Dream Weaver and Austerity was a couple of lengths further away. The rest made little impact on the race.
Coming into the straight, Snow Princess easily accounted for Afrojack. Astromia was almost in panic mode as she the gap she had committed to take between Afrojack and Snow Princess disappeared. She had to abort that attempt and renew her effort from the outside of these two. That was crucial loss of ground and with Snow Princess speeding ahead at full steam, there crashed her chances. Austerity found the tempo going rather late but when she raised her gallop, she covered ground remarkably. However, by then, Snow Princess was safely ahead and Austerity’s late blitz was enough to peg back Astromia to take the runner-up berth.
Hughes then ended on a winning note when he guided prime fancy Mountain Mynah (Ontario – Analonarose) to a comfortable victory. He was up in front along with early leader Conztanza and the pair led the field homewards. Once into the straight, Conztanza tried to escape ahead but Richards kept looming large on her outside. Aflame appeared on the scene and they looked heading for an interesting finish. However, once Richards urged Mountain Mynah, she began to sing the winning tune and worked up a fine rhythm too. Mountain Mynah sped away leaving the rest to pick up the place slots. Aflame ended a clear second, but Conztanza, Stardom bound and Golden Creek finished in close order the former stubbornly holding on to earn place money.
Rehanullah Khan’s lesser fancied Grand March (Burden of Proof – Creativity) produced a defining stretch-run to pocket the Div II of the Rahimtoola Trophy. Setting off quickly from the gates, Grand March followed Glorious Song closely and the pair was well ahead of the rest as they turned for home. The more fancied runners Ximena and Samburu failed to make an impression. Most of the way in the homestretch, Grand march and Glorious song dominated the proceedings, but in the final fifty, when all was over I might add, Capri sprang to life and showed late brilliance to finish alongside the duo, just failing to beat either. Capri should fare better next time out, with this educative run that she has had now. Grand March won by half a length from Glorious Song.
Shyam and Amay Ruia’s Cogito Ergo Sum (Key of Luck – Highshaan) put in an impressive performance to clinch the 2000 meters Pleasure Hunt Plate. This was easy pickings for the Nosher Cama charge as she raced in second behind Major Wager. Thunder Strike, jumped out late and dislodged the rider so there ended his quest.
Cogito Ergo Sum took to the lead soon on turning for home and then galloped on smoothly to distance herself from her rivals. She looked the winner long way from home and jockey Neeraj Rawal eased her up in the final stages of the race. Cogito Ergo Sum romped home to a thumping victory with ridiculous ease and looked good for more over the longer trips. Ariane kicked on to finish a faraway second.
Apprentice jockey Akshay is surely gaining in confidence and his ride on Xenia was exceptionally good given his short experience. That ride to victory astride Xenia would make any of the better jockeys proud.
Xenia (Ontario – Constantina) was heavily backed and was the race time favourite. As they darted out of the gates, there was a scramble for the early advantage and a bunch of horses formed a cluster in the front. Aleutian Zone, sweaty Betty, Wild Imagination, Fairy Queen were all jostling one another in front. Xenia galloped on the rails behind this wall of horses.
Aleutian Zone led them in and the rest also started to apply themselves. Akshay had no room to progress and the lad did not panic in the least and patiently waited behind, and even took his foot off the gas pedal allowing those in front to go ever-so-slightly ahead, then switched lanes without hampering those behind him and finally charged ahead all in one single well-oiled motion. Once he guided Xenia in the clear, Xenia responded to his vigorous urging and shot past fairy queen in the nick of time to crane her neck to the wire.
A splendid victory for trainer Mansoor Shah who did extremely well to get the filly to prime fitness with the benefit of just a solitary run this season. Mansoor has been striking with good frequency this season, working wonders and getting the optimum from his wards. Ancient Wonder is only one of many such successes he has had this season so far.
Akshay later partnered another public fancy – Festival Light (Serious spender – Star Festival) to a much easier victory. Akshay did well to jump out from the outside draw (12) to smoothly sail into the lead accomplishing the first task, clean as a whistle. He then checked his mount and moderated the pace that suited Festival Light and once they turned for home, he shifted gears and quickened well in copy book style to score a facile victory, causing no anxious moments to the followers of the joint favourite along with Expelliarmus, despite the bunch of 15 others trying to catch up with the leader. Festival Light kicked on gamely to register an emphatic victory. Auraria and mc Queen did well to stay ahead of the others.
Brave Gypsy (Brave Act – Sea Gypsy) outlasted her eight rivals and put in a determined gallop with another young apprentice Kavraj Singh. Settling back third behind Celebrations and the favourite Money For Nothing, Kavraj was biding his time coming into the straight. Money For nothing took charge soon on turning for home as celebrations faded away. Perfect Strength moved up strongly and challenged Money For Nothing. The pair was battling hard and approaching the distance post, Brave gypsy decided to pitch his might in. Kavraj worked hard to get Brave Gypsy to the front, but once in the lead, Brave Gypsy stretched further away to register a comfortable victory. Money for Nothing fought on with Perfect Strength and wrested back the second slot at the wire.
Yet another allowance claiming jockey Akash Agarwal astride Stuntacular (Mr Mellon – Rind of Kerry) was also resolute in pulling off a closely fought victory from Adams Vision by a whisker. Hitting the front soon on start, Stuntacular shot ahead right from start and held a marginal advantage over Adams Vision and the popular fancy Mountain N Dales. The trio then was engaged in a gripping battle and inside the final furlong, Moutain N Dales fell back. Stuntacular and Adams Vision took the fight right up to the wire, but Akash was gritty in his riding out and managed to thwart the challenger, only just!