Mr. Vijay Kumar Gupta & trainer L V R Deshmukh leading Machiavellianism (A Imran Khan Up), winner of The Colts Championship Stakes (Grade I)
A superb finishing effort from Machiavellianism, and some brilliant riding by Imran Khan, enabled the brave horse to secure The Colts Championship Stakes (Grade 1) at the Bangalore races on Sunday. This Deshmukh trainee stunned the followers of form and emulated his stablemate Vijay's Pride, who had caused a similar upset in The Fillies Championship Stakes only seven day's ago. It is difficult to remember if this has happened in the past. An outstation trainer winning both The Fillies and The Colts in identical colours at this centre, and that too with rank outsiders. Had stable jockey PS Chouhan been on board on Sunday, it would have been another landmark in his career. It takes a brave man to admit that he made a mistake, and I thought PS Chouhan was quite humble when he analysed the day's feature. He agreed that he had faltered while electing to ride the fourth-finisher Plenipotent in this race. In his opinion, Machiavellianism will be even better over a trip, and the champion jockey is looking forward to partnering him in the Summer Derby. For trainer Deshmukh, it was a dream come true. Not many, including himself, would have ever thought that he could achieve this feat in summer. All those who were watching outstation horses running this season had agreed that this year's Hyderabad challengers were quite formidable, but such a result was beyond anybody's imagination. An elated Deshmukh was quick to confirm that Machiavellianism will carry the stables hopes in the Kingfisher Derby, and both Vijay's Pride and Plenipotent shall not be participating in the richest race of the season.
The second classic of the summer season had attracted a talented bunch of fifteen horses. Their respective ratings were only indicative of their present form and fitness. Since Shivalik Hero, Silver Birch and Maths Baby had won their lead-up races, they were rated ahead of Hachiko. Incidentally, the connections of Maths Baby had paid a large amount to enable him to come in as a final entrant in this race. On all known form, MK Jadhav's Hachiko was the best performed horse in this race. He had completed a hat-trick of unbeaten victories while lifting The Poonawalla Multimillion at Mumbai. In the absence of second-placed Day's Best, who was expected to give him a tough fight, Hachiko looked quite formidable. The stable was satisfied with the progress that he had made after arriving in Bangalore, and jockey Prakash was happy with his fitness. Accordingly, Hachiko was installed as a firm favourite in The Colts Championship Stakes. Plenipotent, Shivalik Hero, Silver Birch and Borsalino enjoyed the support of their respective yards. It was difficult to separate them in the parade ring, as most of them looked brilliant in the paddock. For the record, like his stablemate Vijay's Pride in the Fillie's, Machiavellianism was available at 50/1 with the bookmakers.
A huge roar greeted the start of this race. Taking off comfortably from his innermost draw, Silver Birch showed plenty of speed and led from Red Baron, Super Storm, Southern Opinion, Plenipotent and Maths Baby. Shivalik Hero headed the chasing pack as the closely huddled group tackled the first half of their journey. At this stage, Machiavellianism was galloping smoothly in eleventh place and was travelling the widest of all, while Hachiko was seen being niggled to retain his eighth spot. Things got a bit more serious at the bend. Silver Birch showed his serious intent by increasing the tempo. Zervan pulled out his stick and asked him to "go". Plenipotent and PS Chouhan made up much ground and moved within a length of the leader. Suraj found a nice looking opening for Shivalik Hero and pushed him vigorously through it. The leaders seemed to have the race between the three of them. Not many noticed the movements of Machiavellianism at this stage. Imran Khan had got him onto an even keel and popped him the question. The brave horse moved with giant strides on the very wide outside, and in a matter of a few seconds, was ahead of the pack. He touched the wire marginally ahead of Shivalik Hero, Silver Birch and stablemate Plenipotent. Only a length and a half separated the four of them. This verdict does not give you a true picture of the winner's superiority. The real quality of this performance could be gauged only after watching the TV replay's again and again. By virtue of his widest draw, and the fact that he was caught wide throughout the trip, Machiavellianism had travelled much longer than the "official mile". There is no doubt in my mind that he will be the horse to beat in the Derby.
The Stewards Cup, a sprinting handicap for horses in class I, was the added attraction in the day's card. In the absence of an outstanding sprinter, it was Optimus Prime that was backed ahead of the others. With stray support flowing in the direction of Win Again, Sunday Storm and Show Time, this race had the makings of a real pot-boiler. Show Time and Sunday Storm were pushed from the start, and the pair showed the way to Win Again and Optimus Prime. Since Padmanabhan had claimed four kilos on Sunday Storm, apprentice Ganesh wasn't carrying any lead in his saddle. With a feather-weight on his back, Sunday Storm enjoyed a healthy advantage over Optimus Prime as they reached the distance post. Optimus Prime and John tried their best to overhaul the leader, but it wasn't possible. The fourteen kilos between them, had made all the difference. Sunday Storm kicked clear to win from Optimus Prime, Win Again and Valahak. The last named was seen putting in some good work at the end, and is one for the notebook. The handicapper is sure to catch up with Sunday Storm hereafter.
There was some intense action in the upper division of a sprint reserved for maiden three year olds. First-timer Home Advantage was a favourite ahead of the more experienced pair of Cielo Signore and Sebright. This ward of Imtiaz Sait was touted as a good bet by his connections. However, he performed pathetically and ended a long way behind a pair of winners. A rare dead-heat was announced between Padmanabhan's Ace Dancer and Irfan Ghatala's Sebright. Sebright had remained in constant touch with early leader Cielo Signore and had actually managed to wear him down in the straight. Just as Suraj thought that he had things under control, he got a shock. Ace Dancer moved threateningly from behind and came charging towards Sebright. Ranjeet Singh's enthusiasm in the saddle had evoked a strong response from this colt. In a bobbing of heads, it was difficult to name the winner and even a digital print was unable to separate the two of them. Cielo Signore, who was travelling well within himself till the final furlong, got a bit tired. He settled meekly for the third spot. The noteworthy performer in this race was definitely Ace Dancer. Even though the debutant looked slightly gross in the paddock, he confirmed that he is a good type of youngster.
The lower division was a cakewalk for Bharat Singh's Charlemagne. Race goers were impressed with his stablemate Slade Valley's performance sometime back. Charlemagne showed that Bharat has some real good horses under his charge this year. Whatever doubts people may have had about his fitness were dispelled by his movements on the training track. Most track reporters felt that he was unbeatable, and that is exactly what he proved by humbling his opponents. Allowing no-hopers Somethingdifferent and Icelander to lead on sufferance, Trevor held Charlemagne in third spot. All he did near the bend was to relax his grip on the favourite. Moving like a well oiled machine, Charlemagne lengthened his strides and sailed clear of a late finishing Rebuttal's Hope and Somethingdifferent. The winner is sure to win in open company.
Trainer Ganapathy had the pleasure of leading-in a couple of winners today. While Favourite Warrior caused the biggest upset of the afternoon, Smart Star's victory was quite popular. Favourite Warrior was the least fancied amongst a group of fifteen runners that had accepted to participate in a seven furlong race reserved for horses in the lowest category. Rusty and Blue Mala were the two market fancies in this race. Not wanting to get into any traffic problems, Valdir DeSouza pushed Rusty into an early lead. He put him under further pressure in the straight and tried his best to reach the wire ahead of the others. Rusty succeeded in thwarting a challenge from Surprisesucceeding and Blue Mala, but had no answers when Favourite Warrior came at him. Despite being poorly positioned at the top of the straight, Favourite Warrior made up acres of ground on the wide outside. With Raja Rao showing rare opportunism, he got up in the nick of time to nail Rusty on the post.
Smart Star was clashing swords with favourite Diamonite. Because Diamonite had won her maiden start, she was seen conceding five kilos to him. Smart Star took off like a scalded cat, and in the hands of Rajendra , tore away from his opponents. Suraj Narredu and Diamonite moved smoothly through the field as the runners settled into their rhythm. In a rare accident, Diamonite stumbled near the half way marker and parted company with her rider. It was easy for Smart Star thereafter. A rider less horse made it difficult for anybody to make a serious move from the back. With Rajendra waving his whip furiously at him, Smart Star continued to dominate the proceedings. Knowledge and Superior Edge finished alongside while saving place money for their respective connections. Those who had backed Diamonite today must back her again. She was moving really well in the backstretch and was distinctly unlucky to have lost this race.
The day ended on a relatively happy note for the punters, as a couple of favourites won the last two races of the afternoon. Irfan Ghatala's Tiberius and the Md Khan trained Brave Cat carried the public purse to victory. In the hands of apprentice Anjar Alam a few weeks ago, Tiberius had flopped as a favourite. The boy had earned the wrath of the Stewards and was punished for unsatisfactory riding. Not wanting to take any further chances, Irfan entrusted him to Suraj Narredu. The DM Shivaswamy Memorial Cup was a seven furlong event for older horses rated in class III. The leading jockey took a smart jump with him, and was content to settle him behind Grand Success and Camelot as the fourteen runners tackled the first half of their journey. Tiberius was travelling comfortably at this stage and it was apparent that his dominance was round the corner. It happened faster than that. With the front-runners coming to a complete halt, he had no option but to move ahead near the two furlong marker. Suraj shook him vigorously and made free use of his whip. Tiberius responded nicely to skip clear of a late finishing No Doubt and Apollo King. The last named made up much ground from the back and was the fastest finishing runner in this race. After his earlier victory astride Sebright, Tiberius was Suraj's second winner on Sunday.
Brave Cat had joined the Md Khan stable this season. Since she had been reluctant to get onto the training track, the trainer decided to change his tactics. Brave Cat was given a couple of gate practice's in the last seven days. Since she was running against horses in her own age group, Brave Cat received strong support from the punters. Imran Chisty took a good jump from the widest draw and the public choice was seen racing alongside Spark Of Legend and Chantilly Jewel. Second-in-demand Super Star failed to live upto his name and was seen languishing at the back. The field started spreading out as the runners made their way towards the bend. Only one horse was seen thereafter. Brave Cat moved ahead of the pack and won by a widening margin from Inspirator and A Game To Remember. Now that she has shown good form, it would be reasonable to assume that Brave Cat shall defy her winning penalty.