Mr S M Ruia, Mr Amay S. Ruia & trainer Nosher Cama leading Pure Elation (Neeraj Rawal Up), winner of The H. B. Gundappa Gowda Memorial Cup
The HB Gundappa Gowda Memorial Cup, a sprint handicap for horses in class I, featured an ordinary looking card of eight events at Bangalore on Saturday. A dozen runners headed by the top-weighted Atlantus accepted to face the starter. The ones at the top in this heavy weight handicap failed to evince interest amongst the punters. Recent form pointed towards those who had climbed to their present marks after winning races earlier in the season. Both Sunday Storm and Shivalik Prince had impressed in their previous starts. While Sunday Storm was known to possess blinding speed, Shivalik Prince was highly regarded for his eventual acceleration. Even though they were venturing to defy winning penalties, both stables had confidence in their respective wards. While Padmanabhan had chosen to claim an allowance on the former, Irfan Ghatala had stuck with winning jockey BL Paswan. Six year old Pure Elation from Mumbai had run once this season. Carrying the top weight in a lower class, she had failed to carry the public purse to victory. Nosher Cama had taked a considered decision to run her at the lowest weight in this race. The mare ran her guts out to vindicate this decision made by her trainer.
The speedy Cape Ferrat tore away to the front and managed to keep his neck in front of Sunday Storm and Accurate till the bend. Neeraj Rawal had Pure Elation tucked away on the rails, while the others headed by Shivalik Prince were seen galloping at regular intervals. The race took a serious turn in the straight. The first two beaten in this race were Sunday Storm and Accurate. They caved-in under pressure and retired from the scene. While Cape Ferrat continued to lead into the final furlong, Pure Elation and Shivalik Prince were seen gaining ground on him. It was apparent that we were headed for a close finish. Pure Elation gained the upper hand close home and managed to contain a strong challenge from Shivalik Prince. Neeraj Rawal rode brilliantly astride this winner. The runner-up was distinctly unlucky as he was definitely the fastest finishing horse in the day's feature.
Satish Narredu's Shivalik Star put up a brilliant performance on debut, and in the process, all but smashed a long-standing course record at this centre. This impeccably-bred youngster had reportedly suffered a physical impediment in the early stages of his career. After an operation, and some well deserved rest, he had been brought onto the training track. Those who had seen him work had a high opinion about his abilities. However, nobody knew what he would do under pressure, and therefore he was allowed to start at 2/1 amongst a set of modest maidens. What he did on the race grass in the next couple of minutes was quite amazing. Suraj eased him into an early lead ahead of Rich Celebration, Pack Ur Bags and Truman, and held him on a tight leash till they turned for home. Shivalik Star was given his head in the straight and asked to quicken. The manner in which he rocketed away from the others left no doubts about his superiority. Despite being eased up in the final furlong, he won by a huge margin from Pack Ur Bags and Rich Celebration. A look at the clock added lustre to this performance. There was no doubt, that had Suraj continued to urge him in the closing stages of this race, Shivalik Star would have written his name in the history books.
Amit Caddy and Valdir DeSouza dominated the first couple of races in the day's card. The small made Hatchet Harry had been carefully brought down in handicap, and was the medium of a big "gamble" in the day's opener. Some late support for Sayyonee saw the two of them starting as equal favourites at race time. TS Jodha took Sayyonee to the front and tried to stay there. Making strong headway from the wide outside, Hatchet Harry was soon alongside. The pair cantered ahead of the others till the bend. Things changed thereafter. Hatchet Harry asserted his superiority by taking charge of the proceedings. He skipped clear of the rest and marched in solitary splendour towards the finishing line. Benedict found late foot to saunter into second place. Sayyonee stopped steadily and all but lost her third place to Cash The Cheque. The last named looks like a readymade winner in her next start.
Dhariwal's Samovar had displayed poor manners on an earlier occasion, when she had played up and got entangled awkwardly in the starting gates. She had been subjected to further practice, and it was reported that she had settled down thereafter. Since Samovar was running in a lower category, it was felt that she was worth supporting. After receiving good support from the punters, she behaved on similar lines. Taking off lethargically, thereby losing precious ground at the start, Samovar failed miserably and ended in the ruck. The race was won by the front running Rusty. Valdir chose to take him to the front and managed to do so. These catch-me-if-you-can tactics proved to be beneficial for the connections. Rusty was quite lucky, as he was all but caught by Savvy Concept and Brigades Paradise on the post. Less than a length separated the first four finishers in this race.
John was the other jockey to score a double this afternoon. While Prassanna Kumar's Scenic Blast gave him an armchair ride to victory, he had to use all his skills in pushing Dhariwal's Ratham across the wire. The inside draw enabled Scenic Blast in establishing a nice looking lead, as the runners tackled the first half of their journey. After losing a bit of ground at the start, public choice Dancing Emeralds was seen improving on the wide outside. Those who had backed the favourite lost all hopes in the straight. Scenic Blast continued his good work in front and cantered away for an easy victory. Dancing Emeralds and a late finishing Sanfrancisco Girl ran on to take the minor placings.
Three year old Ratham had made an impressive debut earlier in the season. Running against some mature youngsters, this debutante had come with raking strides in the final furlong and caused a stunning upset. Dhariwal had chosen to campaign her in a handicap race today. Running for only the second time in her career, she was being asked to carry 62.5 kilos over an extra furlong. With support flowing in the direction of Alderson and Amazon Bay, the three of them started as joint favourites in this race. Suraj took Amazon Bay to the front and tried to run away with this race. With Alderson and Ratham languishing in mid group, and encountering traffic problems in the back-stretch, the thirteen runners were closely matched near the home turn. Viva Diva was the first to get close to Amazon Bay, and the pair were seen waging a strong duel in front. It was almost at this juncture that Ratham made her final move. John pulled her towards the centre of the track and asked her to quicken. Responding bravely to her rider's call, Ratham devoured ground and went clear of Viva Diva and Amazon Bay. Alderson ran poorly to finish in the ruck. The winner is a good type and looks destined for much bigger laurels.
The Kumararajah MAM Muthiah Cup gave an opportunity to five year old sprinters to compete against horses in their own age group. Quite a few amongst them had been waiting for this opportunity, and it was Darius Byramji's Shuddering that finally won by beating a luckless Foswell. The latter appeared late on the scene to end a close second. The absence of rainfall this season helped the winner's cause. He is known to relish firm ground, and that is what he got on Saturday. Ryan Marshall had him nicely placed behind a speedy Star Of Desire till the bend. Pulling him "two wide" at the bend, Ryan gave Shuddering a tap and asked him to quicken. The favourite lunged forward and opened up a nice looking gap into the straight. This advantage proved to be decisive, as he finally won by a diminishing margin of only half a length at the finish. Noornabi brought Foswell into contention, but it was apparent that he was fighting a lost cause. A tired Star Of Desire was better than the other nine runners in this race.
The day ended with Sutton Prince scoring a long overdue victory amongst a modest set of class IV horses. Much was expected of this horse last year, but a bad mouth coupled with numerous other problems had led to his undoing. The stable had taken its time and allowed him to mature. An easy start last month had obviously sharpened him for today's race. Ganapathy trained Favourite Warrior had won as a rank outsider in the hands of rookie Raja Rao a fortnight ago. Because of the narrow margin of his victory, favourite Warrior had escaped with a small penalty. With a positive switch in the saddle, he was backed confidently. The speedy trio of Your My Life, Will Still and Thejaguar paced with each other and were ahead of the rest as they entered the final furlong. Sreekanth brought Favourite Warrior with a run towards the inner rails, while Franco DaSilva put Sutton Prince into top gear on the wide outside. The latter moved the best and stormed ahead of the pack. There were no hard luck stories in this race, as the best finishing horse had landed the prize.