In The Spotlight (Martin Dwyer Up), winner of The Bangalore St. Leger Gr-2
Padmanabhan's champion filly In The Spotlight redeemed her reputation by storming home to an easy victory in The Bangalore St Leger (Grade II) on Sunday. She confirmed, that her below par performance in The Maharaja's Cup a fortnight ago, was only an aberration. After winning a number of Classics, including the Indian Derby during the winter months, In The Spotlight had returned to Bangalore. The half-money offered on her by the bookmakers in the Indian Turf Invitation Cup was considered to be quite generous. Since she had done everything asked of her, In The Spotlight was considered unbeatable. She had won with a minimum of fuss and earned a well deserved rest. There was much speculation about her future. It was rumoured that the connections wanted to take her abroad for racing. However, she stayed put in Bangalore and was tested in a mock race in the first week of June. Padmanabhan chose The Maharaja's Cup as her seasonal debut. Her loss to Toroloco that day was quite a surprise, and most racegoers were shocked by her performance. Some attributed the loss to a long absence from racing, while the others blamed the fast and furious pace in that race. One question that was uppermost in everybody's mind pertained to her chances in The Bangalore St Leger. Would she be able to reverse the huge verdict with Toroloco? The bookmakers were an equally confused lot, as they were seen offering even-money against her on Sunday. The filly answered all these questions with a thumping performance in the last classic of the season.
Allowing Volterra to go ahead, Martin Dwyer had little problem in settling In The Spotlight ahead of Star Marquess, Swiss Don and Toroloco. Even though the pace was exceptionally slow, each and every runner was travelling on an even keel. The pace picked up a bit after they tackled the first half of their gruelling journey. In The Spotlight surged forward near the six furlong marker and increased the tempo. She skipped clear of a tiring Volterra and Star Marquess. While Swiss Don called it a day and dropped right out of contention, it was Toroloco who was seen moving steadily on the wide outside. In The Spotlight was the first into the straight, and she was well clear of Toroloco. Martin Dwyer was content to use his hands and heels, and the filly was enjoying her solitude. Without using the whalebone, Dwyer guided her across the finishing line. Toroloco, Volterra and Star Marquess occupied the expected minor placings. Now that she has resumed her winning ways, In The Spotlight will be tough to beat in her forthcoming engagements. Padmanabhan confirmed that The President Of India Gold Cup at Hyderabad will be her next target. In a post race chat, Martin Dwyer confirmed that In The Spotlight had shown tremendous improvement after her lung opener in the Maharaja's Cup. He felt that she was still not at her very best. He hoped that today's exercise would benefit her further, and that, she would soon be back in prime form.
The Lt Col Gaunt Memorial Cup, a mile handicap for horses in class III, gave an opportunity to a number of three year olds to test their "staying" abilities. With most of them being closely handicapped, the race generated a lot of excitement. All of them had ended in the vicinity of the eventual winners in their previous starts. Meghalaya and Simply Stylish did the front running and brought the field into view. Their shortening strides near the bend confirmed that we would soon have a new leader. Adelric moved strongly towards the centre of the track, while Spaniard wove his way through the inner rails and joined the issue. Suraj tried to bring Ice Stone with a run on the wide outside, but the filly was found wanting. Both Neeraj Rawal on Adelric, and Trevor on Spaniard, got busy astride their respective mounts. Adelric held a slight advantage near the distance post. With Trevor continuing to whip a "drifting" Spaniard with his right hand, the horse moved outwards. He hampered the passage of Adelric and took him out along with him. The two raced alongside till the winning post, and Spaniard managed to beat Adelric by the shortest of margins. However, an expected objection was soon lodged. Since there was no doubt that Adelric had suffered an interference at a crucial juncture of this race, and the winning margin was extremely close, the outcome was more or less a foregone conclusion. The Stewards agreed with Neeraj's claim and awarded the race to the Vijay Singh trainee.
Trainer Arjun Mangalorkar enjoyed a successful afternoon by winning with both his runners. Neeraj Rawal completed his personal double by scoring astride Arjun's Dancerella. The concluding race of the day was a seven furlong handicap for horses four years old and over in Class II. Even though Dancerella was running over a trip slightly unsuited to her style of running, her recent form was quite suggestive. After taking over the running in a mile event last month, she had been beaten by Far From Over near the winning post. The filly started as a firm favourite ahead of Violent Storm and the others. Since she was drawn favourably, Neeraj had Dancerella in box-seat as the runners tackled the first half of their journey. Dancerella tracked Make My Day till the bend, before taking over the running. With a nice turn of foot, she went a bit further from the rest and scampered home to a smart victory over a late rushing Gluteus Maximus and Lad Star. It is learnt that the filly is now moving to Kolkata. She is sure to win her share of races at that centre.
Cape Ferrat was Arjun's other winner on Sunday. His run behind Pure Elation and Shivalik Prince, and ahead of Atlantus and Sunday Storm, was too good to forget. The only thing against him was his jockey. With John being unavailable, Arjun had entrusted him to apprentice Mudassar. From the way he had run last time, it was clear that one needed to use a whip on him. The SM Ramakrishna Rao Memorial Cup witnessed the re-appearance of Klipspringer. The filly was attempting to defy the handicapper and remaining unbeaten this season. The 18/10 favourite was totally out of depth in today's company. A major factor that hampered this front running filly's chances today, was her inability to go to the front. With Cape Ferrat setting a real strong pace ahead of Dancing Touch, Klipspringer had to be settled in third spot. Mudassar utilized Cape Ferrat's final burst in the straight and took a strong hold on the proceedings. His four length advantage near the distance post allowed him to lift this trophy. Show Time emerged from the chasing pack and moved strongly towards Cape Ferrat, but it wasn't good enough to topple him. More than six lengths behind ended Klipspringer and Dancing Touch.
Three year old Courage In Red proved to be too good for his eleven maiden rivals in The Esquire Trophy. The well bred horse had failed as a money-back favourite in a similar event at the beginning of this season. Realizing his problem, trainer Attaollahi had gelded him soon after that race. After giving him the desired rest, as well as subjecting him to some steady preparation, Courage In Red made a re-appearance. Taking off like a scalded cat, Courage In Red rushed to the front and made them all run. He lengthened his strides in the straight, and in the hands of Trevor, scored handsomely from the late finishing pair of Sumitomo and Angel's Kiss. The last named finished an unextended third. She will be too good to miss the day she runs in a maiden's set after her return to Pune. Courage In Red is a speedy type, and being a late foal, has further scope for improvement.
A rare nine furlong handicap for horses in class IV managed to attract only six runners. Half of them were three year olds who had been unsuccessful in their attempts to win in maiden company. Bred as a half brother to Xisca, Malesh Narredu's Angel Crown was expected to go well over this trip. Even though he had never run longer than six furlongs, his connections felt that this race was ideally suited to his style of running. With Suraj partnering him, he started as the even money favourite in this race. Padmanabhan trained Provocateur had won over the same distance in a lower category during winter. He was the second choice of the punters. Martin Dwyer eased Provocateur into an early lead and set a comfortable pace ahead of Entertainer, Starstruck and Angel Crown. The field travelled in single file till they reached the bend. Things became a bit more serious at this stage. Provocateur was joined by Entertainer on his outside. Imran Chisty had taken out his stick and was urging him to move ahead of the leader. Angel Crown was finding it difficult to improve further and was faltering under pressure. Entertainer and Provocateur ranged alongside and matched strides right upto the winning post. A digital image confirmed that Entertainer had got up on the last stride to beat Provocateur by the proverbial whisker.
A couple of divisions of a sprint reserved for horses in the lowest class, filled the rest of the card. Sriram Komandur's Final Countdown had run a forward race in his last start and lost in a narrow finish to Neron. With Neron running a blinder in a higher class on Saturday, Final Countdown's chances looked rosy amongst the present lot of acceptors. There was some hype around Sweet Angel, who had apparently done some good work on the training track, but one look at the horses in the paddock was enough to realize that the Sriram trainee looked quite formidable. Strong support in the last few minutes led to a much shorter price at starting time. Gnaneshwar allowed Magic Wave to lead on sufferance, and had Final Countdown in striking position as they made their way towards the straight. Sweet Angel improved on the wide outside and was a few lengths away from those in front of her. With Magic Wave refusing to slow down, Gnaneshwar had a job on his hands. Making free use of his stick and pushing vigorously in the final furlong, he managed to nudge the public choice to a comfortable victory. Magic Wave and Sweet Angel ended far ahead of the other nine runners.
The lower division happened to be the first race in the day's card. Satish Narredu's four year old filly Special had done nothing of note thus far in her career. There were a few things that favoured her today. She was running against horses in her own age group, had worked reasonably well on the training track and also had Suraj Narredu to guide her fortunes. The absence of a worthy opponent led to a strange scenario. On the basis of sheer optimism, Special had been backed down to odds-on favouritism. Those who had got involved in the action lived to regret their decision. Special ran a pathetic race and finished in the ruck. Rank outsider Molly Malone made a start-to-finish bid, and all but succeeded in her efforts. Warren Singh's Brigade's Passion responded late to Vaideeshwaran's stick and got up in time to nail the leader. A third unfancied runner named Montag plodded along to take the third spot.