Mr. Vikram Singh, Mr. Nirmal Singh & trainer Irfan Ghatala leading Toroloco (B Prakash Up), winner of The K N Guruswamy Memorial Cup
Irfan Ghatala's four year old Toroloco re-produced his winter form, and ran away with The KN Guruswamy Memorial Cup at the Bangalore races on Saturday. After some good performances in terms races, this was the first time that he was running in handicap company. His success in the Bangalore Derby, coupled with a fourth in the Invitation Cup, ensured him a place near the top of the rating charts at this centre. The manner in which he made light of a heavy impost, and asserted his superiority over his six rivals, must have gladdened the hearts of his numerous supporters. It was a mile handicap for horses in the highest category. Even though Midtown Magic, Crown Empress and Native Talent had won similar races over the last few months, the sheer presence of Toroloco and Ridgeway was enough to generate excitement. This pair of four year olds stood tall in this group of seven. On the basis of his superb track work and paddock looks, Toroloco received strong support to start as an odds-on choice of the punters. Ridgeway was known to have a "bleeding" problem, and this was supposedly the reason why he had been gingerly handled by his trainer. Most race goers realized that if he ran soundly, Ridgeway had the ability to make use of his four kilo advantage over Toroloco. He was an obvious second favourite in this race.
The field took off to a smooth start from the gates. Despite throwing a lot of tantrums prior to getting loaded, Toroloco settled nicely behind Magnitude Star and Camorra as they tackled the early stages of the day's feature. Ridgeway was last but one as they turned for home. Prakash brought Toroloco with a smooth run near the two furlong pole and went ahead of the others. The only one that went in serious chase of the favourite was Ridgeway. John urged him relentlessly and roused him from his slumber. Ridgeway galloped strongly and came within striking distance of the leader. However, it was a Herculean task to tackle Toroloco. With Prakash making free use of his whip, Torloco gained further momentum and strode away from Ridgeway. Known more for his liking of a longer trip, Toroloco was seen getting stronger at the finish. With 61 kilos on his back, this was a brave performance. Magnitude Star ended a poor third. In his present form and condition, Toroloco is sure to race prominently in the "bigger" races this season.
The other brilliant performance of the afternoon came from another horse ridden by Prakash. Pesi Shroff's Silver Birch was meeting a bunch of very ordinary horses in a class IV seven furlong handicap today. The three year old had started his career by running a fair third on debut before picking up a maiden's event in his next start. Enthused by his easy victory, the stable chose to run him in The Kunigal Stud Breeder's Produce Stakes at Mumbai. He ran a fair race that day. After conceding four kilos to Day's Best, he had managed to finish seven lengths behind the winner. The manner in which he ran showed that he was uncomfortable throughout the race. Silver Birch was gelded thereafter and given rest before being brought to Bangalore. Even though he was a money-back favourite today, and his victory was a foregone conclusion, there were a few positives that emerged after the race. His looks confirmed that he was very well. The ease with which he carried a heavy burden, and that too in a top class timing, showed that he is extremely talented. The manner in which he spurted in the straight indicated his prowess to tackle a longer course. This is one horse that is sure to perform creditably in the summer classics.
A superb effort from Karthik Ganapathy's Turf Lightning enabled her to land a class III sprint on Saturday. She is another three year old based at Mumbai. It was a race which appeared to be dominated by "outstation" horses. Vijay's Pride from Hyderabad, Turf Lightning from Mumbai and the Kolkata based Silverina had splendid credentials. The unbeaten Vijay's Pride had been showing out in her morning trials, and the connections were hugely optimistic about her chances. She started as a firm favourite ahead of Turf Lightning and Silverina. However, her supporters were caught napping by the performance of Turf Lightning. The filly darted out of the gates and gave Imran Chisty an armchair ride to victory. By stopping the clock in less than One Minute and Thirteen Seconds, she confirmed that she is a top class specimen. According to her trainer, the filly's main target is a Juvenile Sprint Million in June. Karthik confirmed that today's race was a preparatory gallop for her, and that this victory would not hamper her chances in the "bigger event", as a winner of two races would carry only 50 kilos that day. Vijay's Pride, Lad Star and Silverina took the minor placings on the result boards. Despite Chouhan's strong riding, Vijay's Pride was unable to go anywhere close to the winner.
However, Chouhan's followers had plenty of compensation, when he scored a back-to back double in the remaining two races of the afternoon. Tintinabulation was a strong favourite to win the upper division of The Prince Khartoum Trophy. He looked the part in the paddock. On the other hand, second-in-demand Saltoftheearth appeared a bit soft in the parade ring. With Saltoftheearth losing most of his chances in the first furlong itself, Tintinabulation's job was made easy. Chouhan overtook the early leaders in the straight, and had the luxury of looking back repeatedly in the final furlong. Rich Celebration ended a good second ahead of a late finishing Impressive Bolt. Saltoftheearth made up a lot of ground after straightening for home and galloped late to take the fifth spot.
The lower division of this race went to L D'Silva's Laurel Canyon. The Hyderabad import showed early speed to lead from favourite Magic Money and the others. While Laurel Canyon raced smoothly, Magic Money ran "green". He threw his head sideways and gave a tough time to his jockey. By the time the others joined the fray, the race was over. Under some good guidance from Christopher, Laurel Canyon kept up the good work and won from Fantastic Star and Magic Money. The other six in this race will take a lot of time to enter the winner's enclosure.
Dominic trained Caraway was another easy winner for Chouhan. She enabled the champion jockey to share the day's honours with B Prakash. This small made filly was yet to win a race in her career. She was lucky to find herself amidst a bunch of poor runners. She was perhaps the only runner who had been subjected to some specific preparation. The manner in which they raced confirmed this opinion. Caraway tracked Bebo till the bend, and sailed past her thereafter. Even though Caraway won by an expanding margin, one must be careful while getting carried away by this performance. It will take a while before the winner may score another victory. Fourth placed Sanfrancisco Girl was there, only for an "outing".