Mr. Anil Heeroji Lad & trainer S Dominic leading Lad King (P S Chouhan Up), winner of The Bull Temple Cup
Overcoming a longish absence from a race track, Dominic trained Lad King ran true to his paddock looks and trounced the opposition in The Bull Temple Cup, the feature in a small card of seven events held at Bangalore on Friday. By virtue of this performance, the well-bred gelding takes his rightful place amongst horses in the highest class. After a fairly successful campaign during the summer months, and another win earlier in this season, Lad King had joined the stables of Dominic. His new master ran him once in late December, and saw him finishing third to Bourne Supreme. After Bourne Supreme came out and won his next start in top-class company, Dominic realized that he had acquired a talented horse. He gave him a long rest, took his time to prepare the four year old and brought him out during the last week-end of Winter racing on Friday. Because of his known form, Lad King was installed as a firm favourite ahead of Southern King and the others. He lived upto the faith reposed in him by his fans and produced a near perfect performance. In the hands of PS Chouhan, he got stronger at the finish and strode away from his rivals.
The race was run at a fairly modest pace. Arabian Gold showed early speed to charge away from Ice Mint, Lad King and Gun Salute, while the rest of the group was tightly bunched during the first half of this race. Second-in-demand Southern King was under pressure at this stage and was seen being niggled by John at the top of the straight. After Arabian Gold had kicked clear near the two furlong marker, Lad King was asked to move by his rider. Chouhan pulled out his stick and got down to his task. Lad King responded nicely, overtook Arabian Gold near the distance post and strode comfortably towards the winning post. The fight amongst the rest of the runners was only for the second spot. Southern King made steady progress on the wide outside and managed to go ahead of Arabian Gold near the final post. While Gun Salute was an exhausted fourth, the others were not even sighted in the day's feature. Since Lad King is looking a picture of fitness, he can surely pick up another race at a low weight in Class I during the Summer Season.
Jockey PS Chouhan's bandwagon continued to roll on Friday. The pint-sized jockey has struck such wonderful form, that it is almost impossible to ignore him. He was declared to ride five horses on Friday. His final tally at the end of the day read four wins and a second. The four wins included a double that he rode for Faraz Arshad. Last outing winner Affirmative was attempting to defy a winning penalty. The only thing in his favour was the fact that he was running in the same class. The free-striding horse was held back in second place behind Blue Star, and the pair was clear of Hillstone as they took the home bend. It became apparent that it was only a two horse affair. At one stage it seemed as though Blue Star would manage to capitalize on his eleven kilo weight advantage, but that was not to be. Chouhan rode powerfully in the final furlong, and Affirmative managed to nail Blue Star on the post. Hillstone retained his third place ahead of a disinterested Fist Of Rage.
Showers Of Luck was a recent arrival in Faraz Arshad's stable. The horse was available at 10/1 in the betting rings. The expanding odds against Brave Cat and a surge of money in the direction of North Cape painted a curious picture. Nobody knew what was happening. While Brave Cat took a lethargic start and trailed the front runners, North Cape was seen being hustled to stay in touch with early leader Showers Of Luck. This mount of Chouhan raced well within himself and led into the straight. With the support of the inner rails, and some fine assistance from the champion jockey, Showers Of Luck managed to retain his advantage till the very end. Walter and Super Spectacle responded late to take the minor placings. Youre Rocking looked threatening in the straight, but he was unable to collar the winner. Brave Cat ran on expected lines and finished in the ruck. North Cape suffered an injury during the running of this race. Even though Suraj Narredu was forced to sit out because of an excessive whipping offence, it is difficult to imagine if he would have been able to sustain Chouhan's onslaught. What had looked like a closely fought jockey's championship a few weeks ago, has turned out to be a one horse race.
In the midst of all this, he managed to score a point for trainer Inayathulla. Indian Pride had failed on a number of occasions, and the connections had lost a lot of money on this filly. They took their chances on Friday by entrusting her to an in-form jockey. The filly lacked early speed and was seen gracing the rear. Even though they were a worried lot, they did not lose hope. The only thing in her favour was the fact that the front-running group comprising of La Clique, Biutiful and The First Bullet were expected to run out of steam in the straight. That is exactly what happened. Indian Pride came with a smooth run on the wide outside, overtook a bunch of tired horses and won from a late finishing Caraway. Chouhan's followers were delighted with his efforts in the saddle.
The day began with a couple of victories for Imran Chisty. Partnering Padmanabhan's Enchanted Forest in a nine furlong handicap for horses rated 20-45, he was a favourite to win this race. The filly looked nice in the paddock, but her expanding odds were a dampener. Because of a lack of any further evidence, racegoers were seen backing their "fancies". For no apparent reason, Gold Venture received strong support at race time to figure alongside the favourite. Enchanted Forest leapt out of the gates and went to the front. She led at a steady pace and showed the way to Bernicia, Strive And Serve and Gold Venture. The order remained more or less the same till they finished this race. The only thing that changed was because of a late bid from Frame Partner. The six year old arrived late on the scene to take the second spot ahead of Bernicia and Strive And Serve. Enchanted Forest won with so much ease, that she is more than likely to win on promotion.
Chisty had to ride powerfully to score astride Sharat Kumar's Cowboy Cal. This blinkered horse had shown that he is ready to strike, when he had ended a good second behind Bounty Hunter. The five year old was running at a much lower weight in the higher category today. After getting backed down to odds-on favouritism, Cowboy Cal obliged his followers. Chisty took a smart jump from his inner draw and kept improving his position right through the backstretch. Cowboy Cal found his rhythm thereafter and joined Senor Speedy at the bend. Chisty used his whip with gay abandon and forced Cowboy Cal across the wire. Sanfrancisco Girl improved late to end a good second. Since the quality of horses on display in this race was so poor, it is difficult to visualize any of them picking up a race in the near future.