Mr. D. Khaitan receiving The BSF Trophy from Mr. U. K. Bansal
It was yet another afternoon of mixed fortunes for Calcutta punters as a trio of high-priced runners, a couple of second choices and an equal number of favourites occupied the winner’s enclosure on a warm and sunny afternoon.
The main event, The BSF Trophy, sent followers of money to the cleaners as both the well-backed runners – What A Feeling and Moon Star, failed to make any impression on the eventual winner Aerator (Oath-Liquid Gold), who reversed the form book to win by five lengths from What A Feeling. Part of the blame for the latter’s downfall in such hapless manner must go to his rider Shailesh Shinde whose decision to opt for the rails at the top of the straight cost him dear. The pacemaker Sexy Eyes closed the gap and there ended whatever chances the favourite had of bagging the sole trophy event of the afternoon.
Here, it may be mentioned that while jockeys like Trevor and Shinde are undoubtedly talented youngsters, the Calcutta hairpin and the accompanying short-straight are something that very few outstation riders have been able to master. There is always the danger of getting blocked or taking your mount too wide. Local stars like Robin Corner (of the seventies and eighties) and presently Christopher Alford have always held an edge over their outstation counterparts in this respect. When one goes for the rails, one has to go the whole hog. A half-hearted effort will always cost one dear unless one is very fortunate as Shinde was on Daddy Cool the race-day before. He made the same mistake of going for the gap and switching his mount out in the final seconds.
Having said that, it would be fair to say that Neeraj Rawal rode a very clever race atop Vijay Singh’s Aerator. The colt is known to have plenty of early speed but the moment he saw Sexy Eyes and Moon Star up front, he was content to sit on him in a handy fourth position. After the small field swung into the straight he merely urged his mount to go past the front-running duo while Shinde made his erroneous decision. Hence, Aerator could reverse the five-length verdict in such manner. The hypothetical question arises, whether What A Feeling would have won, had Shinde not blundered. Probably not, but the verdict would have been undoubtedly closer.
The afternoon commenced with young trainer Rutherford pulling off a major gamble with the chestnut filly La Dominique (Ikhtyar-Accentuate). It also provided Afzal Hossain with his maiden success of the season. The favourite Oscar had all the opportunity but failed to make up the leeway once in the straight.
Trainer Padmanabhan’s well bred filly Speed Angel (Alnasr Alwasheek-Star Angel) defied the 6kg penalty and got the better of the favourite Noble Defender at the wire. Top-weight rider Mahesh got the measure of his rival opposite the grandstand after matching strides with him from the top of the straight.
The most impressive winner of the afternoon was undoubtedly Bharath Singh’s Slade Valley (Rebuttal-Illusive Lady) who pocketed the Robert Bruce Plate in great style and in great time. The colt gave Trevor an armchair ride as he left the field standing. The withdrawal of ante-post favourite Hundred Pipers made his task that much easier. In retrospect, it probably saved the backers of the latter from losing their money. The best of the rest was Impressive Win.
Ruzaan rode a powerful finish on Benjamin (Royal Kingdom-Bien Sur) to bring home the bacon for the Vikash Jaiswal stable. The minor placings were occupied by the much fancied pair of Divine Symphony, who moved very late, and Tough One.
Shinde atoned for his earlier rides with a good double astride the fancied and well-backed pair of Cool Cat and Blazing Spectacle. Both won their respective races without giving any anxious moments to their backers.
Cool Cat (Emerald Cat-Hope) in fact won the Senor Pele Handicap easier than verdict. The disappointment was the second favourite Arabica who ran a lacklustre race and finished in the ruck.
Well-backed Blazing Spectacle (Rossini-Bongusto) utilized his top-weight race-gallop three days earlier to good effect and collared the favourite Maria Teresa inside the distance.