Trainer Altamash A Ahmed leading Astapi (A Sandesh Up), winner of The Pierce Arrow Plate
Astapi (Placerville – Blurr) ridden by A Sandesh, scorched the turf with a terrific final furlong gallop to stretch out and away from his rivals and score an impressive victory in the 2000 m Pierce Arrow Plate. Astapi lay in wait for the most part of the journey, racing close on the fence in fourth position of the five runners, until well into the straight. Sledgehammer made all the early running maintaining a two length lead over Solor and Lake Paradise. Strategic Change raced in the rear.
Sledgehammer entered the straight with a handy lead but could not build on it. He led until the final furlong and was ridden out when Astapi moved along the rails to storm ahead and sealing the issue then and there. There was no worthwhile challenge whatsoever. Astapi won with authority and was clearly superior on the day. Lake Paradise just could not rise to the occasion and went down tamely. Strategic Change improved well to beat the rest and claim the runner up berth, just ahead of Sledgehammer.
Mountain Regiment (Black Cash – Calorescence) rode on his stroke of good fortune and pulled off a narrow victory in a three-pronged finish that surprisingly didn’t feature Capitano. The one to rue this loss would be Bold Dancer who had to check and switch course at a crucial juncture. Capitano as expected hit the front early but was stalked by Mountain regiment all the way. Bold Dancer was close behind the two and Royal Honour was not too far behind.
On turning for home, Capitano could not quicken and Mountain Regiment was quick to take charge. Bold Dancer was on the rails and just as he tried to make headway from the inside of Capitano, the latter moved in and closed the gap. Bold Dancer had to apply breaks and shift outward. Considering the end result this check was fatal for Bold Dancer. Mountain Regiment accelerated ahead and past the distance post looked heading for a comfortable win. Bold Dancer moved up strongly and so did Royal Honour. Mountain Regiment held on by a whisker as Bold Dancer got him a stride too late. Royal Honour ended a close third another neck away. Capitano ended a soft fourth.
Trainer Bezan Chenoy saddled a popular double with two well-backed horses Encore and Moonscape. Encore (Emerald Cat – Enchante) took charge midway up the straight and she looked good to get away from the pack behind. There seemed no threat lurking even with just 100 meters to go when Starry Ocean produced a sudden burst of speed to nearly pull off a sensational upset. But that was not to be as Encore had enough momentum going to keep her nose in front on the wire. The winning post came in the nick of time for Encore as the supporters gasped at the close finish. Heavenly Prize ran a good forward race to earn place money.
Moonscape (Senure – Café Noire) scored in the last race of the day with Dashrath Singh playing a good hand in the saddle. At the gates, Diani was tardy and Pablo Neruda was even more slowly off. Laurus Pride wrested the early advantage from Prize Fighter with Moonscape settling nice in third. Into the straight, Moonscape readily shot into the lead and accelerated further away from Laurus Pride who was kicking on. Follow Me started to make headway but Moonscape travelled all the way keeping a safe distance between herself and her rivals. Follow Me finished on well but could only narrow down the margin to Moonscape, who never looked in danger. Laurus Pride ended earning the place money for a decent effort.
Ascot Magic (Strategic Prince – Sun Shower) mesmerised the opposition with a thundering finish which was truly remarkable as the first timer was nowhere near the front runners until the last furlong. Serena led for a while before Ice Skater forced himself to the front, Mighty Splendour, Snow Mountain, Mylastwish, Scone, were all tightly huddled. Kismat came next with Fajr while Ascot Magic only had Snow Flake behind him.
Serena raised some hope as she shot into the lead soon on turning for home, but her bluff was called rather quickly. Snow Mountain challenged her approaching the distance post as Kismat appeared alongside. As the three were engaged in a fiery battle, Ascot Magic generated tremendous acceleration and sped past them all in an awesome manner. Ascot Magic showed terrific speed as he easily zipped past the fast finishing horses galloping at their fastest. This was an excellent debut and Ascot Magic showed promising potential in his very first outing.
Hills And Heights (Noverre – Fantasia Girl) toyed with the opposition, jockey Imran Chisty not able to resist mocking at the others with repeated looks behind even as they entered the straight. Silver Screen led them in and soon Hills And Heights cruised ahead. Once ahead Imran Chisty had little to do except the interest he showed perhaps in who would finish second and how far back. Hills And Heights marched on ahead unchallenged to register the day’s most facile victory. Secret Service and the rest were simply no match. Purple Patch showed some spirit to beat the rest.
Sleuth (Warrshan – Greenfield) finally produced a winning gallop and make his mark. Towering High sprinted into the lead and led the field home. Sleuth made his move well into the straight, quickening well and sailing to the front approaching the distance post. Oriental Sapphire warmed up far too late and ended a decent second. Neptune got the right openings on the rails and made steady progress to finish a good third ahead of Bartimaeus.
In the second race, while Mountain Lion, Captain Smart and Lake Ontario bagged all the attention in the betting ring, Aleutian Zone stole the thunder. Jumping out smartly unlike Constellation and Sweaty Betty who lost a distance at the start, Aleutian Zone matched strides with Captain Smart and the pair turned for home stuck together. Lake Ontario who was close behind these two, tried to close in past the 400. Mountain Lion was galloping unimaginatively and was not getting anywhere. Aleutian Zone sped away from them and Mountain Lion began to roar only after Aleutian Zone was home and dry. Lake Ontario flattered to deceive and ended a humble third.
Adams Prince (Bluegrass Prince – Adams Light) drove home the bottom weight advantage and romped home for a much needed victory. Brunello led them into the straight with Last Tango prominent on the outside. Kalinga Star moved from the rails while Adams Prince galloped on the outside. Both made their move at the same juncture, only Kalinga Star was carrying a lot more. That proved a burden as Adams Prince shot into the lead and streaked ahead to romp home a comfortable winner. Kalinga Star ended a far away second. Brunello did well to end a short behind third.
For the professionals, trainer Bezan Chenoy saddled a double and jockeys Dashrath Singh and A Sandesh scored a double each.