Mr. D. Khaitan & trainer Vijay Singh leading Royal Blue Star (C Alford Up), winner of The Calcutta St.Leger (2012) (Grade III)
As was expected from Saturday’s competitive card of eight races, barring the two major events of the day – The St Leger and The Acorn Stakes – the rest of the races proved difficult to crack but provided punters with lucrative odds if and when they were successful in spotting the winner. The two other cup events, The Eastern Air Command Cup and Indian Air Force Cup, were possibly more entertaining, not to mention the happy interlude with their skilful skydivers popping out of the sky onto the racetrack. Two lads who shared the limelight on this warm and sunny day were youngster Shezad Khan and the vastly experienced Christopher Alford.
The three-horse race for the St Leger turned out to be at quite a fast pace, thanks to Danube Valley doing the job for the on-money public fancy Royal Blue Star (Sunday Doubt-Razpazazz) from Vijay Singh’s stable. C.Alford on the latter sat behind his stablemate till the 600 marker and then bid adieu effortlessly. Raznandan was urged to keep pace with his nemesis for a 100 metres or so before calling it a day. The property of Mr Deepak Khaitan seems to be an out and out stayer and has more races in store for him.
Pesi Shroff-trained Coppelia (Noverre-Patricia) won the Acorn Stakes with a degree of comfort from Bharath Singh’s Sunny Sue. The latter set the pace till the distance post where B.Prakash got his act together astride the eventual winner. Sunny Sue appeared to be tiring in the final 100 metres while Coppelia was stretching out well.
The Eastern Air Command Cup turned out to be quite a thriller. The favourite Artemisia did most of the running but was found wanting inside the distance. She was passed by Credit Ease who threatened to pull it off till Shezad Khan on Manhattan Rain (Sunday Doubt-Star Selection) decided otherwise. It speaks well of the latter’s potential as she negotiated the mile-and-quarter trip rather successfully. This was the third win of the season for Bath’s ward.
Shezad opened his account for the day somewhat fortuitously. His mount Arisen Star (Royal Kingdom-Romantic Pleasure) from Karki’s yard, won start-to-finish by taking the shortest route home but there was high drama across the rack towards the stand side. The favourite Requite drifted out alarmingly and took the fast-finishing Blue Mountain with him. There is quite a possibility that the latter would have won had he not faced such severe interference from Requite. An objection and Stewards Enquiry followed and Requite was disqualified.
Shezad completed his treble with yet another high-priced winner – Combined Operation from Bath’s yard. The colt by Black Cash out of Crepusclaire was in chase of the 8/1 shot Kinshasa till the distance post where the latter appeared to be tiring, which gave the eventual winner ample opportunity to sail past him on his own steam without actually accelerating. The rest were never really in it.
C.Alford opened his account for the day astride Bharath Singh-trained Ocean Myth (Warrshan-Starry), who thus notched up his fourth successive win – three of these during this season. The property of Mr Wadhwan lifted the Indian Air Force Cup from the course favourite Special FX who was hanging in under pressure. Alford completed his treble by bringing the curtain down with Bharath Singh-trained Star Wager (Ikhtyar-House On The Hill) who made every post of the Bountiful Talent Handicap a winning one. Alford had to stave off a strong challenge from Ashwa Prabir.
The afternoon’s biggest outsider was Bhungard-trained Ocean Way (Chatham Strait-Over The Ocean) who put paid to the pretensions of the fancied pair of Hurricane Andrew and Ace Honour though their track record was nothing to write home about. Jockey I.Khan ensured that his mount was never headed. He gave him a free rein after the bend and the chestnut galloped away to glory.