Trainer Karthik Ganapathy leading Forest Flair (C D Hayes Up), winner of The DR.S.C. Jain Sprinters Championship Grade-II
Dr MAM Ramaswamy owned six-year-old gelding Forest Flair (Placerville – Tide of Fortune) produced the fastest gallop ever on the Mahalaxmi track to score a brilliant victory in the Dr SC Jain Sprinters’ Championship (Grade 2). The original field of 12 was reduced to 11 actual runners as Speed Six broke loose and bolted rider less while being led to the starting gates. Speed Six was subsequently withdrawn.
Forest Flair seemed in an aggressive mood as he jumped out and shot to the lead. Hayes calmed him to settle as Weizhou came along to lead the field soon past the 1000. The rest were closely huddled, Attila and Ancient Wonder right up in the front bunch with Beautiful Stranger. Ciel Indienne, Bespoke, Elizabeth, Star Future and Bullet were crowding behind and Orito was at the tail end.
Weizhou led them into the straight and shifted out slightly at the turn. Forest Flair was not going to refuse such an invitation and Hayes guided him through the gap to shoot into the lead. Hayes got Forest Flair to work up a nice rhythm and eased him into top gear with a couple of backhanders. Forest Flair bounded forward leaping majestically and devouring ground at a fiery clip. Meanwhile, Ancient Wonder was in distress for want of galloping space. He was stuck on the rails and just couldn’t wriggle out. Beautiful Stranger was right next to him with Bespoke improving on the latter’s outside. Attila too got hemmed up in the middle.
A double objection was lodged against Bespoke by the riders of Ancient Wonder and Beautiful Stranger. However, both objections were overruled. It was, as expected, an aggressively run race, but none would have matched Forest Flair’s brilliance in the mood he was in. Forest Flair, oblivious to the commotion behind him, held his own Bespoke impressed yet again although her winning streak ended this time. She covered considerable ground at a good pace and also managed to better the record timing of Oasis Star (1:10:10) herself clocking 1:10:09. Even that was not enough to tame Forest Flair who clocked a awesome 1:09:79 setting a new course record.
A triumphant CD Hayes returned gleefully for the lead-in. “He was in a great galloping mood. He started well and kept a nippy tempo going. As I entered the straight, I expected Weizhou to shift out and so instinctively moved along the inner rails. Forest Flair surged comfortably and I knew he would take me all the way. He increased the momentum and kept galloping at high speed. Couldn’t have asked for more from him,” said Hayes.
“I am delighted at his turn of foot and his form. I was impressed the first time he nearly pulled it off this season. I was optimistic going into the race but what he actually dished out was a pleasant surprise. He is in great heart and now we have the Sprinters’ Cup absolutely in focus,” commented trainer Karthik.
Native Knight (Placerville – Native tactics) Mr Madhur Bajaj’s Chetak Horse Racing showed off his great fighting abilities in downing hot favourite Berlusconi in an interesting dual. The four-horse field jumped out on level terms. Airplay set the tone at a steady pace with Berlusconi in tow; a further couple of lengths behind were Romantique and Native Knight. The race came to a boil early in the straight. Berlusconi went past Airplay and soon was tackled by Native Knight. Then began a long drawn battle, with both Berlusconi and Native Knight engaged in a stride for stride tussle. Although Berlusconi had a slight upper hand coming into the final furlong, Native Knight was looming large and was gaining inches with each stride. Finally just under the shadow of the winning post, Native Knight heaved himself to peg back Berlusconi and win the Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Eclipse Stakes of India in a tight finish.
“He has a large heart,” said Mr Madhur Bajaj, the owner. “He has proved himself yet again. I had the confidence in him as he has always been consistent. Even against the likes of Jacqueline and Becket in his prime years, he was never over-shadowed by these two top rivals. He always ended in close vicinity to such good contemporaries. I am very happy with his performance; we will need to plan his next assignment. He seems a good candidate for the Stayers Cup.”
Trainer Narendra Lagad was overjoyed. “His Byculla Cup victory showed his fitness and staying prowess. Berlusconi too was coming into this race with an impressive victory. I knew he would be right there as he has been in good form. I am tempted to take him to Bangalore for the Stayers Cup, but I am not sure if I should put him through the rigours of travelling. That could unsettle him, besides there are a few good races he can attempt here in Mumbai. It’s a catchy situation, but I guess we will do what is in the best interest of Native Knight. We will take a call soon,” said Narendra Lagad.
Afrojack (Major Impact – Star Qualities) came good to win the Elle Cup with a powerful start to finish display and the late dash from Barringo had no bearing whatsoever on Afrojack. Rajendra shot ahead with the Mistry owned gelding and never looked back. He set off at a cracking pace and kept the rest at a safe distance. Into the straight, Afrojack quickened further to lead comfortably. Victorian Vice hardly made an impact but Barringo made progress through the rails. Afrojack kept the momentum going and looked the winner at the distance post. Barringo reduced the margin with a late dash but Afrojack was always elusive. Victorian Vice, the other strong fancy after Afrojack, ended a tame third.
The Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai Salver was a thriller with un-fancied Super Hero stretching out to an exciting victory, his second in four starts this season. Super Hero slipped into the lead as the twelve jumped out in sync. Going at a cracking pace, Super Hero maintained a handy lead, while the rest were in hot pursuit. While Greatness was in close vicinity of the leader, Rebecca was not in the picture when they turned for home.
Super Hero was in command nearing the distance post, but Greatness was beginning to look threatening. Rebecca switched lanes and started to warm up. In the final 100 meters, Rebecca covered maximum ground but the handy lead that Super hero had maintained came in handy as, he stayed put to win by a neck. Rebecca squandered a realistic chance to victory and was a victim of poor positioning for a sprint. Greatness swayed in and out and that might have contributed to her downfall.
Emerald Valley finished an easy fourth, while Tamarai showed some zest to end one off the frame. It might prove worthwhile to keep an eye on Tamarai later this season. The ones to disappoint were Aliyana, who did so much better when racing in the front and Stringsofmyheart, who failed to reproduce her last performance.
Halle (China Visit – Headi) owned by the Vachas and trained by Shiraz Sunderji, proved that her run benefit worked well for her and finished on with a spirited run to topple hot favourite Smart Strider to score her maiden success in the YM Chaudhry Memorial Trophy. Your Lordship darted to a huge lead but surrendered meekly even before the bend.
Smart Strider and Halle entered the homestretch together with Nigella a couple of lengths behind. Smart Strider tried to surge ahead but Halle kept pace with the favourite, not letting him get away. At the final furlong mark, Halle, still on the tail of Smart Strider, began to flex her muscles. She accelerated well and got past the hot favourite. Nigella too came on powerfully but was a touch too late on the scene. She managed to push Smart Strider back to third, but failed to nail Halle despite covering rapid ground, failing just by half a length.
Trainer Nina Lalwani had a fantastic day as she landed a double for the first time this season. With a small string of horses, this was a fantastic performance and both her wards beat a lot more fancied horses. She had a rousing start for the day with Titian (Ikhtyar – Innara) getting the measure of Rajendra ridden favourite Star of Gibraltar. The betting honours were almost even with Titian too attracting attention in the ring. Star of Gibraltar led all the way into the straight, with Titian and Living The Dream following him.
The pace was awfully slow as Star of Gibraltar ambled in front, Titian happy to follow him. Living the Dream lagged behind the two. On straightening up, Star of Gibraltar looked vulnerable as Titian started to move closer. Living The Dream too moved closer to be abreast with the two and flattered to deceive. Titian, ridden by Prakash, snatched the upper hand approaching the distance post and held Star of Gibraltar with surprising ease.
Nina’s next was with Oriental Dawn (Diktat – Belvedere Vixen) in the Kika Koko Trophy over seven furlongs. Home Alone, the last start impressive winner seemed to have the wind out of his sails as he petered out without offering any reason to even shout about. Great White looked nippy as they turned for home and shaped well for the final finish. He stretched ahead to build a useful lead. Arctic Minstrel too galloped resolutely but neither could stop the sustained bid put in by Oriental Dawn as he moved with awesome speed yet great composure to overhaul them all with absolute authority. Oriental Dawn was most impressive and emerged from the rear end of the field to send the other packing. Awesome Smile, who was never in the hunt, surfaced rather late to end third.
Risky Business (Hurricane Run – Wow The Critics) found the Mumbai track to his liking and strode out majestically to score his maiden victory in the Amateur Riders’ Club Trophy, a mile affair. Risky Business led from soon on start and galloped with a smooth action. Light My Way stuck to him until the turn and as Risky Business continued on his quest for victory, Light My Way kept falling back. Favourite Alejandra started to gallop at top speed and zipped past Light My Way, but found Risky Business too hot to handle. Risky Business pulled away from his challenger closer home. Celestial Call laboured his way to third and Light My Way ended fourth.
Ms Nina Lalvani was the lone professional to score a double.