Mr. Deepak Kumar Premnath & trainer Irfan Ghatala Leading Valahak (B L Paswan Up), Winner Of The S. Rangarajan Memorial Cup
The curtains came down on an eventful Bangalore Winter Season 2011-12 at the local Turf Club on Saturday. Over the last five months, we were witness to a number of fine performances at this venue. These pertained to happenings both on and off the race track. For starters, this was the year that Bangalore had been bestowed with the honour of holding The Golden Jubilee Celebrations associated with the running of the 50th edition of The Indian Turf Invitation Cup. Dark clouds hung over this event, as the syces threatened to disrupt the action over this prestigious week-end. The Chairman and The Stewards of the Club were aided by the Owner's and Trainer's Association's in partially resolving this issue. Uninterrupted action on the Bangalore track was happily witnessed by racegoers accross the country. Local racing witnessed the emergence of a pair of professionals, who through their grit and determination, cornered most of the glory. Sharat Kumar and PS Chouhan stormed home to emphatic victories in their respective categories. For Sharat Kumar, this was quite an achievement. With an ordinary string of horses, he had got the better of many top class stables. As far as Chouhan was concerned, this was bound to happen. He has been riding with great confidence, and with more and more stables requisitioning his services, this was always on the cards. After being honoured by The Turf Authorities Of India over the Invitation Week-end, Chouhan signed off the winter months in style. In an extremely rare occurrence, he pocketed the Champion Jockey titles at both Hyderabad and Bangalore. For Kunigal Stud Farm, it was another normal day in the office. They added yet another Leading Stud Trophy to their collection.
An eight event card was held on the last day of the season. The S Rangarajan Memorial Cup, a seven furlong handicap for horses in class I, was listed as the day's feature. The race looked quite competitive. Accurate, Gluteus Maximus and Tomsk had taken the first three spots in a similar event a few weeks ago. The new weights somehow brought them very close to each other. On paper, Gluteus Maximus enjoyed a slight advantage over Accurate and Tomsk, and this exact sentiment was expressed on the betting boards. Valahak was another horse that should have been considered. He had ended alongside Accurate in a recent clash, but his chances were ignored because an "extra furlong". It was felt that Valahak was only a sprinter and seven furlongs will be a bit too long for him. The five year old proved everybody wrong by putting up a cracking performance and "flooring" his opponents. Coming from way off-the-pace, he stormed home to an easy victory.
Magnitude Star and Accurate went at a cracking gallop and opened a five length lead ahead of Gluteus Maximus and Sunstone, as the runners tackled the first half of their journey. The other six runners led by Valahak were an identical distance behind, as they turned for home. The leading pair ran out of gas near the bend, and the two of them retired gracefully from the scene. Under some hard riding from Ashish, Gluteus Maximus pounced on the opportunity and went ahead of the others. But this domination was short-lived. Irfan Ghatala's Valahak was seen making up much ground on the wide outside, and it was only a matter of time before he would go ahead of the others. BL Paswan steered him confidently to score from Spark Of Silver, Tomsk and One For The Money. While the placed horses came from the rear of the pack, Gluteus Maximus stopped in his tracks to end a dismal fifth.
Jockey Imran Chisty dominated Saturday's racing by scoring a fine treble during the afternoon. Trainer Faraz Arshad, who had been assisted by Chouhan in his double yesterday, was joined by Chisty today. He entrusted a pair of maiden three year olds to this talented jockey, and the duo managed to pick up the top two divisions of a sprint reserved for first season juveniles. Both these successes were achieved by adopting front running tactics. Forthcoming's job was made easier by the withdrawal of favourite Equine Lover near the starting gates. The handlers failed in their attempts to stall this unruly filly. Forthcoming darted out of the gates and made every post a winning one. Whistlejacket and Rich Celebration were hard ridden to keep pace with the leader. However, it was a late finishing effort from Nocturnal Hunter that landed him the second prize.
Union Jack had ended in front of Simply Stylish in an earlier clash. Since Raja Rao had been slapped with a fine for "not making sufficient effort" on Simply Stylish that day, the filly was expected to win this race. With Sreekanth reporting sick, Simply Stylish was entrusted to Milan. The rapidly increasing odds signalled the lack of confidence amongst her connections. Milan rode no better than Raja Rao, and was a mere passenger for most of the way. It was a bit funny to see him taking imaginary checks in a fairly spread out field. Despite all his antics, Simply Stylish dragged Milan into third place. The action in front unravelled on expected lines. Union Jack overtook a helpless Jeyem's Pride near the top of the straight and went onto score comfortably from Firelight. Both these horses reproduced their earlier form. Since Imran Chisty had partnered this winner into second place in his previous start, the jockey knew exactly what was expected of him.
The third winner for Chisty was Warren Singh's Ladzone. With Chouhan getting injured after falling off Jigri Dost in an earlier event, Chisty came in as a replacement for him on Ladzone. Making full use of this lucky opportunity, Chisty rode according to instructions. Positioning Ladzone behind Jaldi and The Senator, he waited behind the leaders. Since the front-runners felt the pressure and veered off the rails, there was a nice looking gap that appeared near the two furlong marker. Chisty pulled out his stick and asked Ladzone to go through that "opening". The bottom weighted six years old ran gamely to wrest the initiative. He got stronger thereafter and posted an easy victory ahead of Super Gold and The Senator. The last named ran a forward race after a very long time. He is capable of picking up a similar event during the summer season.
The lowest division of this "babies event” was picked up by Inayathulla's Raphire. Prithviraj trained Balance Of Nature was backed heavily in this race, but the filly was withdrawn by the connections on veterinary grounds. The other ten runners in this race looked so poor in the paddock, that it was almost impossible to make a selection. Will Star and Raphire raced prominently till the bend. A marginally stronger effort from the latter in the final stages sealed the issue in his favour. With Vivek making free use of his stick, Raphire sailed clear of Will Star and Sensational Mover. After being prominent in the initial stages, Deccan Chargers stopped like a pricked balloon. It is learnt that this colt suffers from a breathing problem, and therefore, one must be careful to ignore him from a betting perspective in future.
Vivek was another rider who capitalized on a lucky opportunity. Coming in as a replacement for Jagadeesh astride Wild Nexus, the light-weight jockey completed a double for the afternoon. The withdrawal of favourite Indian Bolt confused the punters. With money beginning to flow in the direction of Hard To Pin Down, Six Shooter, Wild Nexus ,Sweet Timer and Shuddering, one could back anything at 5/1 and over. Game Dancer, Hard To Pin Down and Sweet Timer showed early speed and were huddled together in front as they came into the straight. The grey Wild Nexus was seen cruising in fourth spot, while the others were under pressure at that stage. Wild Nexus carried his heavy impost to the front of the group, and marched towards the winning post. In a scramble for the minor placings, Enduring Speed showed a lot of resolve to finish ahead of Sweet Timer and a tired Shuddering.
The got-abroad Golden Viper had been an expensive purchase as a youngster. A good third early in his career raised the hopes of his connections. His pedigree suggested that he would revel over a galloping course, but a physical impediment stopped him from performing accordingly. On a couple of occasions that he did start thereafter, he ran pathetically. The owners chose to change stables. Darius Byramji took him under his care and treated him for his condition. He started to work him and was happy with the progress being shown by Golden Viper. A couple of jumps from the gates confirmed that the horse was feeling confident to race. He was entered in a seven furlong handicap for horses rated 20-45. There was little doubt that should this horse run "sound", he would win this race. In the absence of a strong opponent, Golden Viper was backed confidently. To the relief of his camp, Golden Viper took a level start. Even though he raced almost ten lengths off-the-pace, he was travelling comfortably. Ashish brought him with a nice run through the middle and joined Yawar and Fantabulous Star in the final furlong. A couple of taps of the whalebone was all that was required. Golden Viper got stronger at the finish to beat Fantabulous Star and Yawar. It will be interesting to see how Darius campaigns Golden Viper hereafter.