Trainer P Shroff leading Songlark (S Zervan Up), winner of The Vallabhdas H.Adwalia Trophy
Sunday’s races brought in substantial glitter to the Mahalaxmi racecourse what with Cine Star Sonakshi Sinha making her first appearance at the venue and Mr Mehul Choksi presenting a beautifully crafted Trophy for his Beti by Gitanjali Maiden Mile. However, it was champion trainer Pesi Shroff who outshone them all with a splendid four-in-a-row result.
Songlark (Singspiel – Ordoneyah) had a point to prove. She had failed badly in Pune as a prime favourite making no impact at all in that race but was seen covering some ground in the end, yet not finding a place in the judge’s frame then. On Sunday, she was all game and dished out a truly gritty run to force the issue and beat Phoenix Force to the post by a narrow margin.
It was not all smooth sailing for Songlark as Bongani guided them homewards. Songlark, who was in third spot along the inner rails, was stuck for room for an anxiously long time. Bongani was weakening and Dancing Splendour was trying hard to snatch the lead. Phoenix Force surged forward to join the two in front and Songlark was stuck behind horses. Zervan would have skipped a beat too as there seemed no way to pass through. He didn’t dilly dally for too long and took a decisive turn inwards. He found no room on the inner rails and that looked perilous as Phoenix Force by then had taken over the lead and had a momentum going.
Zervan had made a brave move by going towards the inside and true to the adage, luck favoured him as Dancing Splendour suddenly made way moving out. That little gap was enough as Songlark unleashed a fiery last furlong gallop which overwhelmed Phoenix Force as Songlark grabbed the lead strides from the winning post to register her career’s first victory. Zervan was absolutely efficient and defined the luck of the race, showing good presence of mind.
Elena (Alnasr Alwasheek – Intuition) ran a peach of a race to make every post a winning one. There is no doubt that Elena is one of the quickest at the gates and shows tremendous speed early on. She did just that and entered the straight with a handy lead. Malcolm Kharadi didn’t press on her and let the filly cruise with the momentum. Dovers Hill started to bridge the gap and soon Blue Sky made her move from the outside. They all tried hard to get past Elena, but the filly flourished under Malcolm to keep going all the way and post another victory to take her winning streak to five at a stretch. Elena now has a good record of six wins and a second in seven career starts. The only one to beat her was Black Magic Woman in their only earlier encounter. Elena was the on money favourite then so Elena avenges that defeat after 21 months wait for their next encounter!
Black Magic Woman though, had a tardy start and that proved crucial. She was last into the straight yet managed to pip Scarlet Pimpernel for a place in the frame which is a positive from this race.
Montezuma (Placerville – Amazing Princess) was understandably installed the hot favourite after his impressive show on his debut in Pune. He lay in the back of the mid-bunch initially, but made an early appearance soon on turning for home. He zipped past the fighting trio of Talk of the Town, Carlyle Hills and Invictus with Amazing Desire right behind these three.
Montezuma made his bid from the outside and bounded forward to build what looked a massive lead. He was given a couple of backhanders but he was well clear with just over 100 meters to go. Amazing Desire won some points back by putting in a fast finish and managing to cut down the two-lengths plus deficit and keep it to under a length. Lake Paradise seems to be finding her feet as she too showed a lot of spark in finishing a head behind Amazing Desire in full flow. Invictus broke a blood vessel.
Franklin (Ikhtyar – Rahy’s Serenade) couldn’t have pleased his connections and backers more as he put in a fantastic display for a debutante. Running over a mile for his first run, Franklin showed immense quality in his final finish as he shut the opposition out and stretched away to chalk up a surprisingly facile victory without being extended. Ice Cool had led the field homeward and was travelling fairly well shaking off Sun Salutations who was running alongside. Woven Dreams was ridden out from long before the bend and labored his way to end third. Franklin who was fifth most of the way, came to the fore with a big gallop to collar them all approaching the distance post and then sailing away, toying with the opposition. Ice Cool didn’t do too badly either and will sure give a good account of himself soon if not in his next run.
The Shirkes too reaped a good day with the Green and red silks flashing past the winning post thrice on the day. While Elena and Montezuma fired for them from the Shroff stables, it was Mk Jadhav trained Hachiko who started the roll for them, beating prime fancy Neona in the day’s second race.
Neona tried to repeat the manner of a start to finish essay that had won her the SA Poonawalla Multi-Million in Pune. She led at a god clip and was still travelling well coming into the straight. Hachiko improved from the last spot to be a very close third at bend and soon started to get alongside Neona. Neona showed little gumption as Hachiko came up to challenge her lead. Hachiko made short work of the favourite and galloped away to score impressively, without encountering any resistance. Neona may have needed this run as she went down too tamely. Hachiko, back on his home turf, was the star performer that he is known to be.
Raptor (Mathematician – Copper Bracelet) put in a forceful gallop in the homestretch and won despite drifting out alarmingly in the final furlong. Raptor forged ahead of early leader Veena’s Pet and shot into the lead at the turn. He came into the straight looking a winner as he marched ahead with authority. All wet well until the last 250 meters which is when Raptor started to hang towards the outside and despite Liam Jones’ efforts, started to veer out considerably. Veena’s Pet sensing another chance doubled her effort but Raptor didn’t let his momentum affect his drift and galloped on to score convincingly.
Adventurer (Royal Kingdom – Gombaru Etsu) pulled off a comfortable start to finish victory living up to the promise he had shown in his run on day one. He led them into the straight and then accelerated extremely well to snuff out the opposition without giving them a ghost of a chance. Atlantic Star faded away after promising to make a race of it as he began his final run in the straight. He just did not get his game up and fell back to finish a poor fourth. Sacre Coeur showed good finishing efforts to beat all but the winner. Adams Prince ran within himself to earn place money.
Mansoor Shah’s Xenia (Ontario – Constantia) scored an impressive victory, this in spite of not getting the best of starts. Xenia was last out and tailed the field in the early part of the scurry. Sandesh then got down to improve positions and did so without spending too much. Rio Del Ray had a handy lead in the straight, but the sustained effort of Xenia saw her get to Rio Del Ray a furlong from home and stretch away nicely closer to the winning post. Rio Del Ray was runner up to a better horse while Domain Anna without troubling the ones in front claimed the third spot.
For the Professionals, Pesi Shroff was the runaway star performer of the day with four wins. Jockeys A Sandesh and S Zervan notched up a double each.