Trainer Neil Darashah leading Successor (C Alford Up), winner of The Jayachamaraja Wadiyar Cup (Grade III)
An exciting finish in The Jayachamaraja Wadiyar Cup (Grade III) , highlighted an absorbing afternoon of racing at Bangalore on Sunday. Three runners were almost abreast as they stormed towards the winning post, and it was the final burst of speed produced by Neil Darashah's Successor that landed him the big prize. Being a well endowed terms event over seven furlongs, it attracted some of the best horses in training. A strong local contingent was joined by outstation challengers Black Magic Woman and Bold Police. On the basis of her last summer form, Black Magic Woman received strong support in the betting rings. Even though she was running after an extended period of time, it was felt that she was back to her best. The track reporters confirmed this opinion. Aristos, Optimus Prime, Sovetskaya and Star Marquess looked like her main challengers. There was no doubt that Successor was well served by the terms of this race. His close third behind Attila and Sprint Star in The Sprinter's Cup was a noteworthy effort. However, the fact remained that he was yet to be tested over an extended trip. His trainer had been campaigning him regularly over a sprint, and Successor was known to be a front-running type who generally got caught near the winning post. Christopher Alford produced the desired result by riding him differently today. He "nursed" him till they were well into the straight, and made his move only after getting him on an even keel.
The fourteen runners were closely huddled as they stormed out of the starting gates. Forever Glory was the first to show out from Aristos, Star Marquess, Love Conquers All and Successor, as the runners tackled the first half of their journey. Sovetskaya and Bold Police headed the chasing brigade as they turned for home. After doing a bulk of the running, Forever Glory surrendered tamely to stablemate Star Marquess's onslaught. With Sreekanth making free use of his whip, Star Marquess assumed command and moved strongly towards the winning post. P Trevor and Sovetskaya came menacingly on the wide outside and the pair looked poised to overtake the leader. At just about the same juncture, Alford asked Successor for an effort. He pulled out his stick and gave him a couple of cracks. The game galloper came through the middle to settle the issue. His long neck was ahead of the other two as they crossed the wire. The judge was unable to separate Star Marquess and Sovetskaya, as a result of which, the pair dead-heated for the second place. Only half a length covered the first three finishers. Black Magic Woman ran lethargically in this race. She is sure to improve after this exercise.
Neil's cup of joy was full to the brim at the end of the day. Apart from landing the day's feature with Successor, he was delighted to see three firm favourites from his yard trouncing their opponents. The easiest winner amongst them was Auburn Beauty. The three year old filly was lucky to be rated in the lowest category. Jockey Gnaneshwar, who has just come back after a longish suspension, was asked to guide her fortunes. The boy was a mere passenger astride her. After taking a good jump, he settled her behind Thunder in the early stages of the race. Unable to restrain Auburn Beauty any longer, he allowed her to move ahead of the others. She kicked clear to register an impressive victory. Savvy Concept came from way off the pace to deprive Thunder of his second place.
The Mount Everest Trophy, a scurry for maiden three year olds, had a firm favourite in Neil's Sumela. Because of her unruly behaviour in front of the stands, she was led rider less towards the starting gates. In the absence of a worthy opponent, she was slammed in the betting rings. Imran Chisty raced her prominently throughout this short trip, and skipped clear in the straight. For a brief moment Many Wishes looked threatening, but once Sumela lengthened her strides, the race was over. Fire Storm and Active Grey fought gallantly for the minor placings. Active Grey is the one for your notebook. Despite looking a bit gross in the paddock and after suffering a hampered passage in the back-stretch, he still managed to finish close behind the leaders.
Imran Chisty scored a personal double while completing a quadruple for Neil Darashah by winning astride Maddox in the last race of the afternoon. This horse had come last season from Mumbai to Bangalore to have a tilt at the winter classics. His second behind Field Marshal in The 2000 Guineas was his best effort. A fifth in The Bangalore Derby and another similar effort behind Cardinal in the Super Mile were his subsequent performances. Maddox was lucky to be eligible to race in Class II. His trainer was quick to pounce on such an opportunity. Since he faced extremely weak opposition, the bookmakers offered a measly 50/100 on him. He justified favouritism by leading near the bend and kicking away further in the straight. Indian Bolt came from the rear to finish second ahead of Arabian Gold at the finish. Early leader African Queen stopped like a pricked balloon near the distance post and faded from the scene.
The rest of the day's proceedings were mainly dominated by lesser fancied runners, and quite a few favourites bit the dust. Padmanabhan's pair of Enchanted Forest and Sunday Storm paid handsome dividends at the totalizators. Enchanted Forest got up in time to nail favourite Hillstone at the all important end. Replacement jockey Ashok Kumar used this opportunity to score another point in his career. Sunday Storms performance was quite eye-catching. After a fairly decent winter campaign, this speedy type was entered in a seven furlong race today. The presence of Panamera scared away a lot of entrants. Padmanabhan decided to utilize the services of his apprentice Ganesh on this horse. With four kilos off his back, Sunday Storm was well handicapped. On the other hand, a bandaged Panamera looked slightly "light" in the paddock. The odds on her began to expand at race time. Sunstorm, Sunday Storm and Panamera raced in close order as they turned for home. With Sunstorm getting tired and Panamera rolling sideways under pressure, we suddenly had a clear leader. Sunday Storm kicked away to establish a nice looking lead at this stage. Panamera and Aztec Gold came charging from the back, but the issue had already been settled. The race was already in the safe keeping of Sunday Storm. Apprentice Ganesh rode a nice balanced race on this winner.
On-money favourite Effectual was another hot order that found one better today. This sparingly raced horse met a tartar in the Dominic trained Red Bolt. The winner is another horse that suffers from "bleeding" problems. After a nice rest of almost four months, the two of them carried the hopes of their respective camps. While Red Bolt made good use of his inner draw and raced prominently behind Gift Of Love, Effectual improved steadily to stay in touch with the leaders. Apprentice Noornabi took the bend at tremendous speed and did well to remain in the saddle. This specific manouvre helped Red Bolt in establishing a good lead into the straight. The youngster pushed vigorously to keep Red Bolt going. John used all his skills to get some more response from Effectual, but those were all in vain. Red Bolt carried his momentum to a fair victory over Effectual and Catamaran. The rest of the field was literally crawling in the final stages of this race.
Suleiman Attaollahi's Capote displayed a welcome return to form by winning the top division of The MN Prakash Memorial Trophy. Since Arjun Mangalorkar's Free Law was running for the first time after being gelded, there was nothing that one could back with confidence. Horses like Young Achiever, Mark Of Genius, Free Law and Kripa had some winter form, but it was difficult to fathom their fitness by a mere look at them in the paddock. After Ultimate Fantasy and Mark Of Genius had shot their bolt near the bend, it was Free Law who went ahead. He was soon joined and passed by Capote. Showing rare acceleration, Capote responded to Trevor's handling and stormed home to an easy victory. Foswell and Young Achiever fought for the last two placings on the result boards.
The only other race in the day's card was extremely interesting. A whole lot of three year olds were racing in open company. Spaniard, Meghalaya and Wrekin had won their maiden starts and were handicapped near the top of the scale. Since Simply Stylish was still a maiden, the filly was receiving a lot of weight from them. She too had an army of supporters today. An older Lucky Sam showed the way to Meghalaya, Spaniard, Simply Stylish and Wrekin as they progressed towards the home turn. A bit of jostling at this stage led to the runners getting spread across the track. The one that caught the eye at this point was Meghalaya. Under some forceful riding from Da Silva, the nice looking filly got stronger and stronger. She comfortably sailed past the winning post ahead of a late finishing Wrekin and Spaniard. Simply Stylish plodded at the end to disappoint her followers.