Trainer Arjun Mangalorkar leading Optimus Prime (S John Up), winner of The Bangalore City Gold Cup Gr.3
A strong gallop in the final stages of The Bangalore City Gold Cup (Grade III) by Optimus Prime, enabled this Arjun Mangalorkar trainee to justify the confident support that he had received in the betting rings. Producing his trade-mark finish, the well built six year old confirmed that he is currently passing through one of the finest phases in his racing career. After a few unsuccessful attempts over the last six months, Optimus Prime had struck "gold" by romping home in The BTC Anniversary Cup a few weeks ago. He had come charging through the inner rails and skipped clear of early leader Lovely Kiss and the others. The two were meeting at slightly altered terms today. Apart from the fact that Lovely Kiss was running over a more favourable six furlongs, the filly was also better off by two and a half kilos at the weights. It was felt that this race was perfectly suited to Lovely Kiss's style of running, and because of this opinion, she started as a favourite ahead of Optimus Prime and Secret Punch. The last named was another speedy type who had made great progress in the last one year.
With PS Chouhan making full use of the innermost draw and taking Lovely Kiss to the front, the field was forced to settle behind her. Sunday Storm, Secret Punch and Show Time followed at regular intervals, while Optimus Prime and Caribbean Queen were seen being niggled to stay in touch with the leaders. The order remained more or less the same as they straightened for home. Lovely Kiss increased the tempo and succeeded in shaking-off her nearest rivals. It was clear that if there was anyone that was going to catch her today, it had to be someone from the back. And that is exactly what happened. Optimus Prime made a strong move towards the inner rails, but his passage was hampered by Show Time. John switched him out and found an opening. Caribbean Queen made her move on the wide outside and began to gain ground on the leaders. Just about fifty metres short of the winning post, it was difficult to separate Lovely Kiss, Optimus Prime and Caribbean Queen. With all three jockeys in full flow, these horses were almost in a line. Eventually it was the forceful riding of John and a brilliant finishing effort by Optimus Prime, that settled the issue. He kicked ahead to score from Caribbean Queen, Lovely Kiss and Secret Punch. Jockey DK Ashish, the rider of Caribbean Queen raised an objection against the winner, as he felt that John had interfered with his filly. The frivolous objection was thrown out in quick time.
Trainer Neil Darashah was the only trainer to saddle a double on Friday. The victories of both Nadia and Mr Carpe were equally exciting. An 1800 metres handicap for horses in Class II saw a pair of bottom weighted runners enjoying favouritism. Golden Viper and Enchanted Forest had finished first and second over the same trip in a lower category in early July. With the weights marginally favouring Enchanted Forest in today's race, the filly headed the betting charts. Nadia received stray support in the ring. With the use of blinkers, Enchanted Forest ran keenly in the early stages and travelled alongside Dancerella, as they traversed the first half of their journey. Sudden Magic and Golden Viper raced within hailing distance of the leaders, while Trevor was content to hold Nadia at the back, as they made their way towards the home turn. With those in front beginning to feel the pressure, the field started bunching up in the straight. Sudden Magic led briefly, but he was soon passed by Nadia. With Trevor making free use of his stick, Nadia maintained her advantage till the very end. Golden Viper found late foot to end a close third, and suggested that he would be better suited over an even longer trip. Enchanted Forest showed a distinct dislike for her blinkers, as she performed way below expectations.
Mr Carpe had been running erratically in maidens events this season. Neil decided to run him at his own mark in lesser company, and chose a six furlong handicap on Friday. Since he had never touched the board, Mr Carpe was positioned near the bottom of the scales. PS Chouhan allowed him to travel comfortably behind Art Ace and Balboa till the bend and got him on the right foot in the straight. He knew that if he tried to put pressure on Mr Carpe at an earlier stage, then his horse would be inclined to drift out under pressure. For a change, the dark bay galloped soundly. In the run-in for home, Mr Carpe responded to Chouhan's urgings and managed to contain a strong and determined challenge from Simpleton. Smart Star rallied late to save place money for his connections. Apprentice Vaideeshwaran's objection against the winner on the grounds of interference, was also over-ruled. There was a time when objections at Bangalore were a rare commodity. In the last year or so, everybody is taking chances and there has been a lot of post-race activity in the Stewards Room.
Mr Carpe gave PS Chouhan his second winner of the afternoon, as he had already scored with Puttanna's Tribal Queen in the day's opener. With hardly any money being wagered on the other ten runners, Tribal Queen started as an odds-on choice of the punters. Chouhan improved with his mount in the back-stretch and came into a striking position at the bend. With Good Gift refusing to get tired, Tribal Queen suddenly had a job on her hands. She improved gradually and got up in time to beat the leader into second place. Style Of Signature improved late from the rear to take the third spot. This horse can be noted for an early success.
With the jockey's championship generating a lot of excitement, today's double enabled PS Chouhan to join Trevor at the top of the leader boards. With Suraj Narredu standing right behind them, the three cornered contest has reached a crescendo. The last couple of day's of racing next week is sure to see these boys searching for "winning mounts". Suraj managed to score a point later in the afternoon by excelling astride Sriram Komandur's Pack Ur Bags. The filly was second favourite behind a heavily supported Sans Frontieres. Since the favourite had done nothing of note thus far in his two career starts, this sort of support was a bit confusing. He did his usual front running and slowed down in the straight. Pack Ur Bags, who raced alongside till that stage, went ahead of the others. She was soon joined and strongly challenged by Rich Celebration. Suraj managed to contain Chouhan's challenge and lasted out to score by a whisker. Prom Queen impressed while finding late foot to end a respectable third ahead of a tired Sans Frontieres.
The only other race in the day's card went to Padmanabhan's Red Bishop. This big made chestnut finally found his winning shoes while decimating his opponents. He had served notice of an early victory by his run over the Derby weekend. After trailing a large field, he had literally crept into the fourth spot. Travelling over a mile once again, Red Bishop raced more prominently this time. Appu gave him a push at the gates and succeeded in occupying the box-seat behind Starscream, Rusty and Hot Stuff. He moved comfortably in fourth spot till the bend. It was at this stage that he was popped the question. Skirting the three front-runners, Red Bishop asserted his superiority. He lengthened his strides and went away from a late finishing Savvy Concept and Rusty. Now that he has found his rhythm, Red Bishop seems destined for further laurels in the near future.