Trainer V Lokanath leading Talisker (Arshad Alam Up), winner of The Kempegowda Cup
A long and winding card of nine events was held in ideal racing conditions on Saturday at Bangalore. The Kempegowda Cup, a seven furlong handicap for horses in the highest class, was slated as the day’s feature. Although there were ten acceptors in this race, the set looked fairly mediocre. Aristos and Kyles Of Bute had performed creditably at this level, but their recent form was far from encouraging. Their top weights were an additional disadvantage. Shivalik Prince had shown good progress in summer, but his form had tapered-off after joining the Ganapathy stable. The one that had the best credentials was Pradeep Annaiah’s Yourewindsofchange. After winning his first race in March this year at a rating of 24, this four year old had never been beaten. By winning three subsequent starts during the summer months, he had climbed to a rating of 90. Even though he was facing top class opposition for the first time in his career, there were many who fancied his chances. The horse looked well in the parade ring, and his track trials indicated that he was on target to land this prize. Yourewindsofchange was backed to the exclusion of his rivals and sent as an even-money choice to the starting gates.
Low-weighted Lad King was hustled to set a strong pace in this race. He was followed by Aristos and Yourewindsofchange. The other runners led by Talisker were strung out at the back, as the runners took the rising ground at the turn and straightened for home. The first horse to make his move was Aristos. Mudassar pressed the accelerator and took him ahead of the others. Sensing the impending danger, PS Chouhan was forced to make his move quicker than what he might have planned. He gave a couple of cracks to Yourewindsofchange and came alongside. The favourite quickened nicely and opened up a good looking lead at this stage. However, there was one horse that looked threatening. In the hands of raw apprentice Arshad Alam, Talisker moved forward. Realizing that he was in for a fight, Chouhan pulled out his stick and tried his best to keep Yourewindsofchange going. However, Talisker got stronger with each stride and managed to go past a tired Yourewindsofchange near the winning post. Spark Of Silver came with a late bid to take the third place. A stunned silence greeted the victory of this 40/1 outsider. For apprentice Arshad Alam, who had won the first race of his career only eight days ago, this was a wonderful victory.
In the very next race, Lokanath dropped another bombshell. This time it was the turn of 85/1 rank outsider Athletic Star to stun the betting public. A number of well performed three year olds were participating in this sprint handicap for horses rated 40-65. Esteban, Cielo Signore, Volcano, Simpleton and Athletic Star were re-appearing after winning their previous starts. While the first four were strongly supported, the last named was totally neglected in the ring. The presence of Vinod Shinde in the saddle along with the fact that this horse had only recently joined Lokanath’s string, led to such a scenario. In a fast run race, Swift Star and Esteban showed the way to Volcano and Simpleton. The group began to tighten in the straight. The one that found a bit extra at that stage was Esteban. Suraj pushed him strongly and managed to wrest the initiative. Just as Esteban was being hailed a winner, he was challenged by Athletic Star. Seizing a lucky opening on the rails, he got up in the nick of time to beat Esteban on the post. Swift Star, Simpleton and Cielo Signore ran on to finish close behind the pair of them.
The first race for two year old maidens this year was held on Saturday. A brilliant turn of foot displayed by Dhariwal’s Apparition enabled her to make a fine start to a hopefully long racing career. Since most of the money was riding on her ownermate Cheval D’or, Apparition was available at 5/1 in the betting rings. With retained rider P Trevor being declared to partner the on-money favourite, most racegoers chose to back Cheval D”or with confidence. However, Apparition looked equally well in the paddock. The eight youngsters took off comfortably from the gates and were quick to find their rhythm. Cheval D’or was the quickest of the lot and was soon a couple of lengths clear of Golden Princess. Viabhav was content to race Apparition in third, and the three of them were seen pulling away from the rest. Cheval D’or’s two length advantage began to diminish in the straight. Responding gamely to her rider’s call, Apparition moved steadily towards the leader. She progressed like a seasoned campaigner and powered ahead to win with a degree of comfort. On a day when the track was relatively slow, she stopped the clock at a fairly fast timing. She is a nice type with a bright future.
Dhariwal won the very next race with Sukhmanee to complete a quick double. This small made filly had been knocking on the door during the Mysore season, wherein, she had figured on the frame in all three starts. But for first timer Vistabella, Sukhmanee seemed to be much better than the other ten runners. Irfan Ghatala’s Vistabella had been doing quite well on the training track and the connections had a good opinion about her abilities. Their confidence was visible on the betting boards, as she was backed at every price to start as an odds-on choice of the punters. Trevor rushed Sukhmanee out of the gates and set a strong pace ahead of La Jawab. Vistabella traveled comfortably in third spot till they straightened for home. It became a two horse race thereafter. BL Paswan produced Vistabella towards the centre of the track and asked her to “go”. The expected acceleration failed to materialize. The filly moved inwards under pressure and her rider was totally unbalanced in the final furlong. On the other hand, Sukhmanee moved straight like an arrow and sailed comfortably towards the finishing line. La Jawab and Sareeta took the other two spots on the result boards.
An interesting finish was witnessed in a mile handicap reserved for horses four years old and over in Class IV. The eight runners looked closely matched and it was tough to make a selection. Provocateur and Alianz looked ideally suited to win this race, but the choice of jockeys by the two camps confused the issue. Both Ganesh and C Harish had become full jockeys after attaining the age of 25. These apprentice boys had failed to win their quota of races prior to attaining this status. Furthermore, Ganesh had been deprived the use of a whip. It was sheer lack of proper assistance from the saddle that led to their defeat. With Liam Jones in the saddle, favourite Fantastic Strike led till the top of the straight. He came under pressure at that stage and surrendered the advantage to Provocateur. After losing many lengths at the start under Harish, and traveling wide at the bend . Alianz came with a flourish to join the issue. In the midst of all this, Puttanna’s Vega got a smart ride from Mudassar. He came the shortest way home and got up in time to put his neck in front of Alianz and Provocateur. There is little doubt that with better assistance from the saddle, both Alianz and Provocateur would have finished ahead of Vega.
A well timed run through a tightly packed field enabled Amit Caddy’s Sicily to win the last race of the afternoon. This compact looking four year old hit the front in the final furlong and clung onto a diminishing lead till he crossed the wire. With Grand Success utilizing his early speed and leading the eleven horse field till the bend, the fancied pair of Sicily and Mi Amor were seen searching for galloping room in the early stages of this race. While Valdir DeSouza managed to weave his way towards the leader, Suraj had no choice but to travel wide at the bend. This ultimately proved to be decisive at the end. After opening up a small lead near the distance post, Sicily started to get tired. Valdir put away his stick and pushed vigorously. At almost the same juncture, Mi Amor responded gamely to Suraj’s whip and made up much ground from the back. The final verdict tells you the rest of the story. Only a short head separated the two of them at the finish. In one of the closest finishes seen on Saturday, Too Cold To Hold and Anna ended right behind the two of them. Only half a length separated the first four in this race.
The lower division of this event was annexed by Satish Narredu’s Sound. This was the third race that he won in his last four starts. The dickey-legged six year old seems to be enjoying his racing and is obviously in the best form of his career. In an open betting affair, Sound started as a relative outsider. Unlike his earlier runs, wherein he had taken a sluggish start, Sound was quick at the gates. Traveling smoothly behind Smart Exotic and Royal Spirit, Suraj nursed him till the bend. Royal Spirit overtook an exhausted Smart Exotic and set sail for home. However, his dominance was short-lived as he was soon joined and passed by Sound. Responding gamely to his rider’s whip, Sound cantered away to an easy victory. African Queen found late foot to take the third spot ahead of an unextended Arun. The last named is getting ready for a “touch”, and it will be worth supporting him the day he is fancied by his connections.
Sriram Komandur’s Pack Ur Bags was lucky to be retained in class IV by the handicapper, and the three year old made full use of this opportunity by bagging the Hemavathi Cup. This sprint handicap attracted a number of three year olds. Even though Pack Ur Bags was conceding weight to most of them, her form was fairly imposing. She received one-sided support to start as the half money favourite in this race. The filly charged out of the starting gates and made every post a winning one. Seeing Raaga coming strongly at her in the closing stages of this race , Suraj was forced to use his stick. Pack Ur Bags had to be ridden strongly to retain her grip on this event. This victory enabled Suraj to complete a double for the afternoon. The other runners ended way behind the two of them. Dominic trained Rebuttal’s Hope disappointed his fans with a pathetic performance. He failed to raise a fluent gallop and finished in the ruck.