Mr. Zeyn Mirza & trainer P Shroff leading Smashing (Trevor Patel Up), winner of The Chief Justice's Cup Grade-III
The Chief Justice's Cup (Grade III), a terms race for horses four years old and over, highlighted an eight event card at the Bangalore races on Saturday. The nine furlong race attracted a nice looking bunch of thirteen runners. Most of them had run and won in the highest class, and the terms were such, that there was a gap of only four and a half kilos between all of them. Pesi Shroff's Smashing looked outstanding in the day's feature. She had beaten a similar set in The Karnataka Cup a couple of weeks ago, and the manner in which she had scored, was indicative of her present form and fitness. Jockey Trevor had kept her off the pace that day, and allowed her to race only in the last two furlongs. Her fluent acceleration had permitted the filly to run away from the others. Apart from Smashing, there was none amongst the present lot that warranted support. Since she was meeting them at almost the same terms today, her victory looked like a mere formality. The bookmakers were aware of the situation, and were extremely careful while offering odds on this filly. 60/100 was the best that was available in the betting rings. It is rare to see tens and over being offered on every participant, barring one, in such an event. Even the bandages that Smashing sported today were unable to deter her fans from supporting the favourite with confidence. At the end of it all, they were mighty pleased with her performance.
The thirteen horse field took off to an even start, with Camorra, Nearness Of You , Southern Bay and Cardinal utilizing their early speed to show ahead of the others. After a good jump from an inner draw, Trevor was content to settle Smashing in mid group as the runners tackled the first half of their journey. Toroloco and Ridgeway raced alongside Smashing as they took the rising ground. The scene in front began to alter thereafter. Southern Bay and Cardinal had been put in top gear and the pair brought them into view. With most of the others getting tired and falling back towards the inner rails, the chasing pack had no option but to move towards the centre of the track. There were five or six of them abreast, as they tackled the last quarter mile of this race. Ridgeway on the wide outside was marginally ahead of Smashing on his inside at this stage. Trevor decided to take the small gap, and was clearly lucky to get it. He must be thankful to Imran Chisty for not closing it. In fact, if there had been a "fairplay award" in this race, it would have been unanimously given to Chisty. He rode perfectly straight without indulging in any sort of gamesmanship. Smashing emerged from the pack and won as she liked. Her smooth acceleration showed that she is presently in the best form of her career. Ridgeway was hard ridden to push back Toroloco into third place. Despite looking the best in the parade ring, Cardinal could do no better than finish a tame fourth.
The M Ali Asker Memorial Cup was the added attraction in the day's card. The presence of Ashwa Shakti had scared away many entrants. The Deshmukh trained three year old had won on debut, and after ending a close fourth in a well endowed race at Hyderabad, had been taken to Mumbai. A respectable fifth behind Hachiko at level weights at Mahalakshmi was said to be a noteworthy effort. Ashwa Shakti was receiving weight from most of the others today. Forthcoming was the only other three year old in this race. Lad Star was the best amongst the older horses. With A Move To Remember and Forthcoming showing early speed, PS Chouhan was happy to settle Ashwa Shakti behind them. He brought the short priced favourite with a smooth run on the wide outside and asked him to quicken. The response was almost immediate. Ashwa Shakti increased the tempo and sailed clear of the late finishing Lad Star and Forthcoming. Lad Star, who overcame a severe traffic problem near the distance post, looks like a readymade winner in her next start.
Trainer Dhariwal and his retained jockey F DaSilva enjoyed a successful afternoon, wherein, they combined effectively to score a popular double. Dhariwal had only two runners today. Both Zermatt and Thunderbay were searching for their maiden victories. Realizing the fact that Zermatt would be unable to pick up a terms race for maiden three year olds, Dhariwal ran her in the bottom class. She was meeting some others of her own age group in this race, but her form was slightly better than the opponents. Rajendra tried to steal this race by rushing Ganapathy's Wandering Ways to the front, but DaSilva was alert to the situation. He progressed nicely with Zermatt, and came alongside the leader. The filly asserted her superiority by powering away from Wandering Ways and Our Love. The last named was given a poor ride by her jockey. The four year old will be too-good-to-miss the day she runs in a race reserved for horses in her own age group.
Thunderbay had begun her racing career only a fortnight ago. The speedy filly had spurted away from a bunch of experienced runners, and had been caught in the final furlong by money-back favourite Vijay's Best that day. She was an odd-on choice of the punters. The withdrawal of Haute Ecole and Front Runner at the starting gates made her task even easier. She won without much of a fuss and was seen travelling on tight reins throughout the race. Impressive Bolt raced prominently till the bend, before he caved-in under pressure. Hyderabad challenger Green Bay ran a nice race to end a good second. Thunderbay is capable of repeating in handicap company.
The lower division of this race was the opening race of the afternoon. Prithviraj's Bold Nature and Darius Byramji's Sumitomo cornered a bulk of the betting. It was touted as a match race between the two of them. Because of her poor gate manners, Sumitomo had been withdrawn at the gates in winter. She played up a bit before settling down today. After an even break, it was Bold Nature that grabbed the lead. With the aid of the inner rails, the chestnut filly established a nice looking gap into the straight. Sumitomo and Reformer were under pressure to stay in touch with the leader. The order remained more or less the same as they tackled the final furlong. Whilst Bold Nature continued to dictate terms, Reformer got stronger at the finish and managed to peg back Sumitomo into third place.
A class II sprint attracted some useful runners on Saturday. Irfan Ghatala's stable had two frontline contenders in this race. Hillfiger and Shivalik Prince had clashed in a similar event way back in March, wherein, Shivalik Prince had got up in time to beat Hillfiger on the post. With a reversal of handicap of almost ten kilos, Hillfiger was expected to get the better of his stablemate today. Anacostia and Absolut Grey were the others that had a chance of causing an upset. Hillfiger was installed as a firm favourite, but in a matter of minutes ,was displaced from his pedestal. With money pouring onto Shivalik Prince, the bookmakers were caught napping. The two stablemates ran on expected lines. Hillfiger remained last till the bend, before finishing a leisurely fifth. On the other hand, Shivalik Prince was always in contention. He chased Anacostia and Nessie till the bend, before joining the issue. He chipped away at Nessie's lead in the straight and finally wore her down in the final furlong. Absolut Grey came with a late bid to beat Anacostia into fourth place. A nice gamble had been successfully landed by Irfan Ghatala and his team of hard working jockeys. This was the third straight victory for Shivalik Prince after Irfan had acquired him from trainer Padmanabhan's yard.
Padmanabhan's Monreale had revealed her true potential while winning her maiden race earlier in the season. This well-bred filly had shown her liking for a longer trip, and the trainer chose a nine furlong handicap for her. The four runners that had accepted to oppose her, were fairly ordinary. In fact ,it was difficult to say which amongst them would finish second. Those who bet "big" were able to back her at 35/100. Jockey Sandesh tried to settle her behind Savvy Concept , but he had a job on his hands. She refused to stay back and pulled him to the front. Since she was travelling well within herself, the boy allowed her move further. It ceased to be a contest thereafter. Monreale skipped clear of the pack and scored effortlessly. In this sort of form, she should be backed again. In a close fight for minor placings, Gold Venture finished ahead of Independence Day and a heavily whipped Frame Partner.
The day's proceedings ended with an opportunistic victory for Ganapathy's Fantastic Star. The class IV handicap had a clear favourite in Irfan Ghatala's Ice Stone. The big made filly had run a good third behind Red Baron and Maximus earlier this month, and her subsequent track trials showed that she was ready to strike. Despite being handled by rookie Selvaraj, Ice Stone received one-sided support to start as an even money favourite in this race. However, the boy made a mess of things and a favourite which should have won , ended second. Those who had backed her were heard commenting about Irfan's choice of jockey's this season. Amyn Merchant took Fantastic Star to the front and never looked back. He was oblivious to what was happening behind him, and rode his mount vigorously till they crossed the winning post. Ice Stone extricated herself from the chasing pack, found galloping room on the wide outside and only then began to move towards the leader. Even though she made up a lot of ground thereafter, it wasn't enough. A length separated her from Fantastic Star at the finish. Ice Stone is in fine form at the moment and a victory for her is round the corner.