Mr Farouq Rattonsey & trainer S S Shah leading Anahi (T S Jodha Up), winner of The Capricorn Trophy Div-I
A fairly large crowd thronged the Pune racecourse for the start of what promises to be an enthralling season. The ambience was picturesque and the weather heavenly. The rains stayed away although the cloudy sky threatened to burst any moment. In such a scenario, the afternoon was chilly and most refreshingly enjoyable. Majority of the hundred plus horses that were saddled through the day looked in good shape and those who cornered glory won fluently.
The most impressive winner of the day was Anahi (Black Cash – Le Reve), from veteran trainer SS Shah’s yard. The Rattonsey and Nensey owned three-year-old chestnut filly, bred by Aleppo Bloodstock Pvt Ltd and Nenssey won the Division I of the Capricorn Trophy as she liked and looked the winner even as they were turning for home.
Anahi was quick to hit the front soon on start and along with Trump Card, She’s Sweet and Star Storm formed a quartet that was well ahead of the others. Moon Shadow veered left and lost considerable ground. He was perhaps shoved away by Ice Gate who too shifted out at the jump. Ice Gate simply could not get going and finished well off the frame. Mateus Rose ran on hard in the final furlong to wrest the second spot - a good eight lengths away - from Trump Card. While Anahi was immensely impressive, Ice Gate has a lot of catching up to do. Mateus Rose will take some pluses from this race as well.
The lower division of the race saw a keen fight for the finish. The two horses involved in the fight were both from trainer Narendra Lagad’s stables. The favorite Mahiki just did not settle and travelled wide for most of the journey squandering all her chances.
Bethlehem led the field with Fireheart and Lucky Red in close attendance. They turned for home in close order while Mahiki took that exaggerated turn. Fireheart soon zipped past the leader and shot ahead. Lucky Red took his time to work up momentum and he sizzled, once he galloped past the 200m mark. A brief tussle followed as Fireheart offered some resistance, however, in the final few strides, Lucky Red (Inhabitant – Mahjong) appeared more aggressive and managed to peg back his stablemate. Lucky Red is owned by the Khataus and bred by Singh Master Avaindra. Favourite Mahiki ended a tame third, just under 4 lengths further behind. This run should strip her fitter and Mahiki can certainly fare better the next time out.
Dovers Hill (Glory of Dancer – Fast Trick) showed a clean pair of heels and played his cards right, to score a solid victory and keep the fast finishing Our Chieftain at bay. National Glory shot ahead soon on start but was tracked down by Viva La Diva who went at a cracking pace to head the former. Dovers Hill waited in third just ahead of Star Treasure and Boderline. Our Chieftain was lagging a good four-five lengths away.
Viva La Diva ran out of steam soon, on turning for home. National Glory tried hard to stay in contention but was not managing to offer anything more. Jockey C Rajendra astride Dovers Hill timed his move to perfection and shot ahead to build a handy lead. He looked safe and away in the closing stages and even a late fiery burst from Our Chieftain failed to make an impact on the Dallas Todywalla trainee, who is bred by Aleppo Bloodstock Pvt. Ltd. Scholar was slow off the locks.
Jockey Amyn Merchant scored a rare double. He won the cherished first race of the season with Intequam (Intikhab – Banaadir), trained by Asad Siddiqui and bred at the Southern Paradise Farms. Bathsheba was the front-runner and Intequam formed the group of close chasers along with Tropical Zone, Prince, Machala and Classic Ruler. Just after passing the 800 m mark, Prince shifted out suddenly resulting in Machala encountering a tight squeeze with Classic Ruler who was on her outside. She fell back and never recovered.
Bathsheba led the field home but could not build on it. Intequam worked up a nice momentum and Amyn guided her ahead when he found her responding. Classic Ruler tried hard but failed to catch up ending a tame third. Xenia covered fair ground in the straight to end a close fourth.
Amyn then pulled off a major upset partnering Fond Memories (China Visit – Fond Fantasy) owned by the Hamieds and bred at the Mehra Stud. Hot favourite Koh Samui although in prominent position at the turn, failed to accelerate in the straight. She could have been slightly jolted by the slight hindrance caused by Fond Memories as the latter made a dash forward past the favourite. Fond Memories in passing Koh Samui, nudged her lightly as she sailed ahead. Sergeant Major made good progress along the rails and tried to challenge the leader. However, Fond Memories had enough legs to steer clear of the threat and post a narrow one length victory. Nigella jumped out awkwardly and fell back at the start and made no impact at all. Her run is best ignored.
Faisal Abbas was the lone trainer to notch a double on the first day. His ward Mishri (Mr Mellon – fantasy) owned by Ms Monisha Advani and bred at the Star Stud Farm, looked a picture in the paddock. She was confidently backed - a lot more after she entered the parade ring and boy, did she justify that faith!
It was a crowded bunch in the front after Word of Honour took the lead. Mishri seemed in no hurry and headed the second bunch of horses that followed a group of half a dozen in front. Word of Honour packed up at the turn and by then Mishri had made good progress to be well in touch with the leaders. The well supported Jewels of the Hill had barely taken over when Mishri opened her assault. She collard them all and shot ahead to sail away for an emphatic victory. Sterling Silver was the next one to impressive with alate bid fetching her the runner-up berth ahead of Eqiano.
Faisal Abbas, later in the day saddled an outsider with the Mrs Neda Abbas & Kundan Poonawalla owned Scintillo (Glory of Dancer – Tikreet) bred at the Nanoli Stud. Scintillo was quickly out and set about in chase of leader Matilda until the turn.
Matilda led them into the straight and soon Scintillo pounced on her to wrest the initiative. Gloria shifted out from the rails for a clear run and started to make her presence felt. Scintillo galloped on regardless and stayed ahead comfortably in the end to deny Gloria to oblige her large followers. Zaracha laboured to end in the money.
Grand Design (Intikhab – Octagleam) owned by the Shirke-Dhunjibhoy-Rattonsey combine was saddled by Pesi Shroff who stood in for Shyam Habbu. The Highgrove produce scored a sensational last stride victory to foil a surprise bid of rank outsider Reinstate.
Reinstate called the early shots and led a closely knitted bunch comprising Guns N Roses, Pheonix force, Invictus, Grand Design, Star Builder and Lorelei. She came in home first and stretched further to increase her lead. Phoenix Force and Invictus were labouring to catch up when Grand Design started to warm up approaching the distance post.
Reinstate was still a couple of lengths ahead coming into the final furlong and Grand Design although on full steam, had some deficit to cover. With Reinstate not showing any signs of surrender, it looked a close call. Grand Design with Malcolm Kharadi in the saddle swooped on the leader in the dying moments of the race and just managed to pull off a cracker literally on the last stride, sending the large number followers into raptures.
The other closely fought contest was the lower division of the Bud Royale Plate involving a three-way close finish between Adventurer, Neptune and Purple Moon.
Adventurer (Royal Kingdom – Gumbaru Etsu) property of Mr Jaydev Mody, Mr Ashish Kapadia and Mr Tariq Vaidya put on his fighting gear and returned with a battle-scarred victory. Purple Moon and tote favourite Neptune turned for home shouder to shoulder and then started to run each other out. Nearing the midway mark in the straight, Adventurer, driven by DK Ashish produced a sustained gallop to join the fighting duo inside the final furlong. The three grappled each other all the way to the winning post and at the wire, Adventurer got his nose ahead of Neptune and Purple Moon.
Incentio (Diffident – Orient Dance) owned by Mr Haresh & Manav Mehta and bred at the Poona Stud Farm, justified the heavy support he enjoyed and scaled to a facile victory without encountering any resistance.
Windmill Lady, Your Lordship and Incentio matched strides soon on start with Honest Pleasure following close behind. While Your Lordship packed up even before the turn, Incentio surged ahead of Windmill Lady at the curve. Incentio marched on ahead and had a comfortable lead coming into the straight and he galloped away from the rest to score an authoritative victory by about 4 lengths. Honest Pleasure improved his position and ended a good second. Windmill Lady finished on poorly and went out of sight while Fajr ran well to pick up place money. Polynesia also finished on well to figure in the frame.
The professionals who fared well on Day One are trainer Faisal Abbas, jockeys Sandesh, DK Ashish and Amyn Merchant – all of whom scored a brace each.