Suraj Narredu's beautifully timed run on Toroloco enabled this Irfan Ghatala trainee to lift The Novotel Maharaja's Cup at the Bangalore races on Sunday. The winner of the Bangalore Winter Derby dug deep into his reserves of stamina to put it across a pair of champion fillies named Smashing and In The Spotlight. The 25/1 outsider turned the winter form upside down with this performance. Ten horses had accepted to run in this race. In The Spotlight and Smashing cornered most of the interest. They had run first and second in The Indian Derby as well as in The Indian Turf Invitation Cup. Even though the gap between the two had narrowed down from seven lengths in the Derby to two and a half lengths in the Invitation, there weren't many who were willing to look beyond the winner. She had been performing like a machine all winter, and her superiority was unquestionable. Since In The Spotlight hadn't had a run since early March, there was a faint doubt about her fitness. However, knowing trainer Padmanabhan's ability to take care of his horses, those doubts were ignored and the filly was backed with gay abandon. She started as the 60/100 favourite ahead of Smashing. The latter had run twice this summer and won on both occasions. After tackling a mile comfortably, she had travelled an extra furlong in the Chief Justice's Cup. On both occasions, Trevor had relaxed her in the backstretch and ridden her vigorously in the last two furlongs. These tactics had paid rich dividends and she had stormed home to sensational victories. Pesi Shroff felt that Smashing had improved since her arrival at Bangalore, and hoped that she would be able to make up the two and a half lengths on the favourite. With regards to the others, not many gave them a chance. Each one of them had repeatedly finished behind this pair of talented fillies, and there was no reason why things would differ today.
With Martin Dwyer in the saddle, In The Spotlight chose to go to the front. She led steadily from Camorra and Cielo Rey. Both of them were seen being hustled to force a faster pace, as they were there for that specific purpose. The field got spread out as they tackled the back-stretch. About eight to ten lengths behind Cielo Rey raced Smashing, while the others were grouped together as they took the rising ground and began turning for home. Not wanting to give In The Spotlight too long a lead into the straight, Trevor began his move astride Smashing. He did not realize that In The Spotlight had shot her bolt in front and was beginning to slow down. Within a couple of seconds, the six length gap between the two of them had disappeared and Smashing came within hand-shaking distance of In The Spotlight. Having no other option but to "go", Trevor pulled out his stick and charged towards the winning post. With the total attention being focussed on the two fillies, not many noticed the action at the back. Suraj Narredu had extricated Toroloco from the chasing pack and asked him to quicken. The big made horse came with giant strides and came alongside Smashing. There was no doubt that he was moving better than the filly. A couple of cracks with the whalebone was all that was required thereafter. He retired as a handsome winner of The Novotel Maharaja's Cup 2012.There was stunned silence at the course after this race. It took a while for many to believe what had transpired. In The Spotlight had scarred her impeccable record. Almost a "distance" separated her from the winner. She had literally come to a crawl at the end, and had all but lost the third place to Star Marquess. Smashing had displayed her limitations of stamina. There were some who felt that, had Trevor waited a bit longer with Smashing, we could have had a different result. And above all, Toroloco had shown brilliant improvement and confirmed that he will be a formidable opponent in The Bangalore St Leger.
This happened to be the second success for the Irfan and Suraj combination, as they had already scored earlier with Icelander in The Smart Chieftain Trophy. This sprint for maidens had attracted some fairly ordinary youngsters. Based on his fourth a fortnight ago, Icelander opened as the first favourite in the betting rings. However, his stay at the top of the charts was short-lived, as there was a flurry of betting on Angel Crown. The Mumbai challenger had apparently done some brilliant work on the training track. Despite being ridden by rookie RK Mahesh, he was supported confidently by his connections. With Simpleton tearing away into an early lead, both Mahesh and Suraj waited patiently with their respective mounts. Angel Crown moved nicely at the bend and took over the running. Not wanting to give him too long a lead, Suraj got busy astride Icelander. In a matter of seconds, he made up the leeway and overtook the leader. The final stages saw Icelander cantering away from Angel Crown and a late finishing Applejack. Angel Crown looks ready to win a race on his return to Western India.
Trainer Darius Byramji cornered glory by pocketing the first two races on Sunday afternoon. After placing a couple of times in maiden's events, three year old Sussex Downs was entered in an ordinary handicap event. The filly had confirmed that she was a speedy type, as she had done the front-running in all her starts. Realizing that there was none amongst the present lot that could match her speed, the bookmakers were reluctant to offer a price against her. Starting as a short priced favourite, she ran on extected lines. Ryan Marshall took her to the front and the pair stayed there till the very end. A couple of cheeky looks at the others in the straight were enough to confirm that the race was over. In fact it was a procession thereafter. Market Mover and All clear followed her at regular intervals.
A nine furlong handicap for horses in class III saw Golden Viper, Enchanted Forest and Ibelieveinmiracles renewing their rivalry. They had run over a mile in mid June and claimed the minor honours in a race won by Young Achiever. Their altered ratings confirmed that they were evenly matched today. With top jockeys Martin Dwyer and PS Chouhan riding in this five horse field, racegoers were looking forward to an exciting finish. Allowing Ibelieveinmiracles, Arabian Gold and Mountain Of Joy to lead on sufferance, both Golden Viper and Enchanted Forest were held back till the bend. It was at this stage that the brakes were released. PS Chouhan and Golden Viper skirted the field on the wide outside and made their way towards the finishing line. Martin Dwyer brought Enchanted Forest with a nice looking run in the final furlong and joined the issue. After a fairly nice duel, favourite Golden Viper hung onto his lead and won by half a length from Enchanted Forest. Early leader Ibelieveinmiracles settled for the third spot.
PS Chouhan's other winner this afternoon came in the form of Auburn Beauty. This Neil Darashah trainee had impressed all concerned with a runaway victory during the opening weekend of this season, and the Bangalore handicapper had given her one of the stiffest penalties this summer. She delighted her sporting owners by handling the double class promotion with absolute ease. She dragged Chouhan into a prominent position from the word "go", and kept waiting for her rider to get a bit more aggressive. Once Chouhan gave her a push on the wide outside, she gave him an immediate response. Auburn Beauty’s lengthening strides enabled her to post one of the easiest victories of the afternoon. Silently fancied Adelric came with a long stretch run to take the second spot ahead of Meghalaya and Abracadabra. The last named has shown good form and it may not take her long to gain a long pending success.
Shehzad Abbas's affinity for horses sired by Don Micheletto is no secret. Year after year, he has done well with horses bred at The Nakul Stud Farm. Since most of them revel over a longer course, it was a bit surprising to see So Super running as a firm favourite in a sprint today. After winning her maiden race at Hyderabad, the nice looking filly was handicapped near the top in a class IV field. Those who felt that the trip could be a trifle short for this even money favourite, were in for a pleasant surprise. So Super led comfortably from the starting gates and out-classed her nine opponents. Imran Khan rode hands-n-heels in the straight and the pair of them ended well clears of Starscream and Red Admiral. Mumbai based Snow Angel was expected to mount a challenge, but it never materialized.
Padmanabhan's sparingly raced Klipspringer justified her cramped odds by storming away to an easy victory against horses four years old and over in class II. After a solitary start in winter, she had performed similarly in her first start this summer. The tail-swishing filly had clocked a superb timing that day. Since there was none amongst today's opponents that looked capable of matching strides with her, her victory looked like a foregone conclusion. Sandesh eased her into an early lead, and never looked back. In a mild skirmish for minor placings, Nessie came through a packed field to beat Capote near the winning post. Top weighted Lad Fury parted company with his rider Anjar Alam near the two furlong marker. On carefully examining the TV replay, it was noticed that apprentice Noornabi astride Nessie was partially responsible for this accident. He had altered course and hampered Lad Fury's passage, thereby causing this fall. After a short enquiry, The Stewards of BTC decided to disqualify Nessie from her second place.
The day ended with a facile victory for Sriram Komandur's Bryant Park. The speedy four years old had been literally knocking on the door this season and asking to be campaigned over a sprint. He finally got his opportunity today. With the fancied pair of Ace Blood and Red Bolt losing their way in this race, Bryant Park's job became easier. He chased Ben Ten into the straight before making his bid. Imran Chisty pulled out his stick at that stage and used it liberally. He quickened on expected lines and set sail for home. Amidst wild cheering from his supporters, Bryant Park skipped clear of Ben Ten and a late finishing Thoughts N Actions. Ben Ten is the one for your notebook. He looks capable of winning a similar race before the end of this season.