Mr. Zeyn Mirza & trainer P Shroff leading Crown Rule (C D Hayes Up), winner of The Allah Rakhkha Gold Trophy
Dr Vijay Mallya-owned Crown Rule (Burden of Proof - Crown Treasure) made his first appearance on the race track count, dishing out a convincing victory in the upper division of The Allah Rakhkha Gold Trophy over a six-furlong sprint. The race was reduced to a two-horse contest as Miss Starlight and Crown Rule surged ahead of the rest even before the turn. Crown Rule, always on the haunches of the leader Miss Starlight, pounced on the leader soon on turning for home. Miss Starlight fought hard to retain her grip on the lead, but Crown Rule was getting better as they galloped on into the final furlong.
Jockey CD Hayes was in complete control and in the last 100 metres made a decisive surge forward to outpace his rival without any fuss. Hayes had nothing much to do either, as Crown Rule without being extended sailed ahead to win handsomely. The second division of the Allah Rakhkha Trophy threw up one of the biggest upsets of the day. Arabica from Pesi Shroff's yard and Maddox from C.D. Katrak's stable were expected to dominate the proceedings in the six-furlong sprint. As the starter set them away, it was Arabica who went to the lead. Maddox was a few lengths behind in fourth while his stable-mate and long-shot Amaretto showed an ease of action and speed that kept him on the heels of Arabica. Up the straight, it wasn't long before the crowd sensed an upset as both the favourite and second favourite looked to be in trouble.
The one that wasn't was Amaretto (Major Impact - Romantic Heights) who went on to win despite running green in the closing stages of the race. The son of Major Impact is a useful juvenile and will be heard off in the future. Visionist who ran second will be better for this experience and will in all likelihood shed his maiden status soon enough. Bespoke (Ikhtyar - Sartorial) gave trainer Pesi Shroff his second winner for the day after Crown Rule. Bespoke too won readily almost unchallenged. Hitting the front soon on start, jockey C Alford charged ahead to lead at a nippy pace. Albuurz set about in chase about two-lengths behind, Nou Camp was third and the trio ended in the same order.
None among the others were ever in the race. Into the straight, Bespoke was still in check as Albuurz tried to catch up. Nou Camp was neither gaining nor slowing down. Past the distance post, Alford gave Bespoke a couple of cracks and the filly surged ahead to snuff out the challenge of Albuurz. She sped away to compile a facile victory increasing the margin of victory. Nou Camp ended third just managing to stay ahead of the late-finishing Atlantic Star. Highland Music (Greensmith - Starstruck Actress) kept his date with victory which was long overdue considering his initial speed and the horses he went down fighting to, in Pune. This time, with Richard Hughes to partner him, there was little chance of Highland Music returning disappointed. There was no such alarm as Richard ensured that the Hormuz Antia-trainee was given the best ride and the speedy gelding completed a well-deserved victory. Hitting the front soon at start, as is his style, Highland Music galloped at a brisk pace to lead them in with a comfortable lead.
Richard seemed in no hurry even as Saints And Sinners came close under some vigorous pushing. Richard still stayed calm and patient. He opened up just nearing the final furlong marker and Highland Music sprinted ahead with renewed power to stretch away. Superior Quest had all the chances but could not get to the leader. Aflatoon finished on fastest to end alongside runner up Superior Quest. Mighty Crusader (Placerville - La Bonne Vie) put in a mighty gallop in the straight to clinch The Mulraj Goculdas Trophy. Initially, Angelo and Mystic Quest cut pace with each other and had saved nothing for the last furlong. Both fizzled out when it mattered most. Mighty Crusader, who was chasing them, found a good rhythm going and zipped past them approaching the distance post.
Misschevious Trot came with a fine finishing effort but was too late on the scene. By the time he warmed up, Mighty Crusader had the race well in control. Mystic Quest galloped on to end third ahead of Highland Crown who did little of consequence despite being entrusted to Hughes. The Rattonsey camp scored a fine double claiming both divisions of The Kejriwal Trophy. Both races were picked up by siblings Dear Henry and Their Lil Sister. Dear Henry (Glory of Dancer - Flying Home) was thought of as a Derby contender by his connections but after developing a laryngeal disorder needed surgery and some time off.
Making his return in the six-furlong Kejriwal trophy, he would have to overcome the challenge of Beyond Stars from C.D. Katrak's yard. As it happened, Beyond Stars dislodged his rider at the start and Dear Henry duly obliged. A full brother to Derby winner Hotstepper, his widening manner of victory suggested than perhaps his connections would be looking for lightning to strike twice at the same place on the first Sunday of February. The lower division was consumed by Their Lil Sister (Glory of Dancer - Flying Home), who jumped out smartly and was quick to settle down behind leaders Hunter Bay and Highland Vision. Coming into the straight, Hunter Bay quickened for home and soon Their Lil Sister was alerted by De Souza. The filly responded well under the stick and easily got past the leader. Forward Charge, who was too far back, came with a spirited challenge in the final furlong, but Their Lil Sister had a good momentum going and she easily managed to hold Forward Charge at bay. The ten-furlong inaugural ET Now Gold Trophy was the 7th race of the afternoon and most were travelling over ten furlongs for the first time in their careers. Star Treasure was coming off a victory and with Richard Hughes astride was solidly supported. As the field broke, it was Icon who went to the lead with Star Treasure being held up in third.
Solor (Glory of Dancer - Steadfast Love) with Stephane Pasquier on top was one of those who were tested over this trip and was content to sit just off the pace. Up the straight with Star Treasure trapped for a moment on the rails, Pasquier produced Solor in what proved to be a decisive move. By the time Hughes got his charge free of traffic, the Nina Lalvani charge Solor had done enough to get home by a fast diminishing verdict. Lyrical Symphony, another who had her share of supporters was languishing in last and to the dismay of her supporters didn't do much to improve. In the upper division of The Cole Gold Trophy, Karthik Ganapathy's filly Angels Pursuit (Alnasr Alwasheek-Cut Time) was looking to overcome a poor draw as was NG McCullagh's charge Aston Martin. With Red Passion the quickest out, Tograllu did well to bring Angels Pursuit into a striking position and did enough to hold off a fast finishing Aston Martin who may not have had the best run home.
Stunning Thunder (Ikhtyar - Stunning Wonder) ran away with The Charon Trophy scoring an easy victory. McCullagh guided Stunning Victory to the front soon on settling down and worked up a good pace. Coming into the straight, he built a handy lead and until midway up the straight worked hands and heels. Wings Of Angels, although second at turn, was never going to cause any alarm. McCullagh, however, taking no chances, whipped the gelding nearing the distance post just to ensure that she kept at it right through. Swoosh never in prominence until the homestretch, gained ground towards the end and earned some place money.
Ariane (Brave Hunter - Badedra) was finally rewarded after some consistent performances. Jockey B Prakash had a role to play as he had to fight his way to the wire. As the closely huddled bunch turned homewards, Telstar who was in the lead gave way to Green Signal. Soon Ariane fought his way to the front with Green Signal tagging along. Eye Of The Storm also chipped in with his might. In the final surge, Ariane just managed to ward off Green Signal who fought till the end. Azul ran on to wrest the third spot from Eye Of The Storm. For the professionals, trainers Pesi Shroff and SS Shah scored a double each, while jockeys Dashrath Singh, Richard Hughes and SA De Souza notched up a brace apiece.