Trainer Sharat Kumar leading Smooth Glider (AR Pradeep Up), winner of The H.H.Sri Narasimharaja Wadiyar Memorial Gold Cup
The Mysore Main Season 2012 got off to a sedate start with a small card of seven events being conducted at the local race course on Thursday. The HH Sri Narasimharaja Wadiyar Memorial Gold Cup, a sprint handicap for horses in class I, was slated as the day's feature. Three amongst the nine acceptors caught one's attention. Arjun Mangalorkar's Cape Ferrat had picked up a similar race in his last start and was running with a winning penalty. He was joined at the top of the scales by Sirajuddin's Win Again. This four year old had matched strides with some of the best sprinters at Bangalore. This pair was conceding chunks of weight to Sharat Kumar's Smooth Glider. After a brilliant campaign late last year, this horse was yet to score in this category. However, he was receiving more than ten kilos from Cape Ferrat and Win Again. All three received good support in the betting rings, and started as almost equal favourites at race time. It was rare to see apprentice boys riding the top three fancied runners in the day's feature.
The speedy Cape Ferrat got straight down to business and showed the way to Honey Buzzard and Win Again. Iron Marshall and Hurricane Bay raced in mid group, while Smooth Glider was seen being niggled at the back, as they took the rising ground and turned for home. Cape Ferrat continued to dominate the proceedings for some more time. Win Again tried his best, but was unable to go anywhere near the front-runner. With less than two furlongs to travel, Smooth Glider was shown "daylight". He was produced on the wide outside and asked to quicken. AR Pradeep gave him a couple of taps and rode vigorously. He got the desired response from his horse. Smooth Glider made up lots of ground in the final stages and cruised ahead of Cape Ferrat and Win Again. The winner literally lived upto his name by putting up a "smooth" performance.
A real thriller was witnessed in a Class II handicap run over 1400 metres. Three highly regarded runners travelled from Bangalore to have a tilt at this event. Darius Byramji's Inquisition was an obvious favourite to win this race. He had been beaten by Indian Bolt in a similar group during the summer season. The fact that Indian Bolt had gone on to win two races in Class I subsequently, enhanced Inquisition's chances today. Dhariwal's three year old colt Anonymous had won both his career starts. Even though these victories had come over a much shorter trip, the stable was quite optimistic about his chances. It was felt that the seven furlong trip was suited to his style of running. Neil Darashah's Radical Attraction was the other fancied runner in this race. Perfect Bond, Chinab and Time Flies set a good pace ahead of Radical Attraction and Inquisition. Anonymous met with a severe interference at the gates and lost most of his chances at that stage. With the leading group fading out near the bend, it was apparent that the race was confined to Radical Attraction and Inquisition. PS Chouhan brought Radical Attraction with a smooth run towards the inner rails, while Imran Chisty chose a path on the wide outside. Inquisition matched strides with Radical Attraction right down the straight, and managed to beat her by a "nose" at the finish. Anonymous rallied late to come through a wall of horses and ended a poor third.
The season began on an auspicious note for the punters, when a heavily supported Harini succeeded in winning the day's opener. It was the lower division of a Class V race over 1400 metres. Tharun trained Perfect Speed opened as a firm favourite, but with hardly any money coming his way, the four year old started as a rank outsider. As a result of this, the odds against Harini and Yamaguchi contracted rapidly. Shivakumar brushed Harini into an early lead and kept increasing it in the backstretch. It was obvious that she was going to stop in the straight, but the question was when? To the delight of her camp, the Sharavanan trainee moved steadily towards the post and just about lasted out to hold Arc Angel at the finishing line. The latter drifted out at a crucial juncture, and as a result of this, all but presented the race to the favourite. She is capable of winning in a similar set of runners later in the season. After a fairly long time, Yamaguchi ran a forward race and managed to figure on the board.
The upper division saw similar action in the bookmakers ring. Perfect Attitude was installed as a favourite, but due to lack of support, was friendless at starting time. On the basis of some fair form during the summer months, Supreme Strength garnered support with the bookmakers. The pace in this race was extremely fast. Cafe Date bolted to the front and was a few lengths clear of Supreme Strength at the bend. The others led by Perfect Attitude were content to stay at the back. Even though Supreme Strength managed to overtake Cafe Date in the straight, the five year old was rapidly running out of steam. Perfect Attitude progressed steadily on the wide outside and went onto beat the favourite. Sandalwood Star made a late bid and took the third place. The last named has come down a lot in handicap, and is one for the notebook.
Three year old Sandstorm had been running some good races in maiden company at Bangalore. Attaollahi chose to run him over a mile at his own mark on Thursday. By finishing powerfully in the final stages of a race, he had shown that he would be comfortable over a galloping course. Sandstorm confirmed that opinion with a neat performance in this race. He tracked Queens Colour till the bend and forged ahead thereafter. With Trevor making free use of his whip, the chestnut colt maintained his advantage till the very end. Neil Darashah's Velvetine was expected to be a stout challenger, but she stopped under pressure. This permitted a late finishing Always On Top to displace her from the second spot.
The Datta Jewellers Gold Cup, a sprint handicap for horses five years old and over in Class III, was the other trophy event in the day's card. Since this race was confined to horses based at Mysore, this race had an "open" look. Some stray support for Ahira, saw this seven year old starting as the 4/1 favourite in this race. With none of the runners showing urgency at the gates, it was left to rank outsider Tornado Force to set the initial pace. Gnaneshwar was able to settle the Kishore trained Cute Style in second spot, while the others were tightly packed at the back. Cute Style took over the running at the bend and cantered away from the rest. Cute Style's jockey looked back a couple of times before easing him in the final furlong. In a scramble for the minor placings, Prezzie finished ahead of Bullish Luck and Sterling Speed.
The last race of the day was easily annexed by Monappa's Miss International. With an apprentice boy riding her, she was moving steadily in the front group as the field of twelve approached the bend. A Vishwanath goaded her to the front, but since he did not have a whip, the filly was unable to gain further momentum. A couple of things helped change the scenario. PS Chouhan ridden Seriously Perfect made a strong challenge and came alongside. The moment Chouhan hit his mount with the left hand, she ducked inwards and rolled towards Miss International. This spurred Miss International into action. She spurted at that stage, dug deep into her reserves of energy and strode away from Seriously Perfect.