Trainer Adhirajsingh Jodha leading Rajasthan Royals (C S Jodha Up), winner of The A.C.Ardeshir Trophy (Gr.3)
The IGCC Christmas Fest saw a large family crowd pouring into the racecourse to wring in Christmas early in Mumbai. As usual, the fest was thoroughly enjoyable and the Indo-German community showcased the German culture that is now familiar on the Mumbai turf. The German Cuisine, beverages and the specially flown in German band - Die Sulmtaler engaged the crowd with some lively music and witty interaction. The weekend saw a great blend of racing and family entertainment. The kids had a whale of a time with Santa being the biggest attraction amidst Puppets, magic and fire dancers.
The racing action too was as enthralling with some heavily fancied and some not-so-fancied horses churning out inspiring performances on the track. The one to take the plum was the lesser fancied Rajasthan Royals (Hyme – Jukebox) extending his run of consistency and blending well into the bigger league of top horses.
Young Adhiraj Jodha has been upbeat about Rajasthan Royals’ forward form ever since his stint I Bangalore. He had won the Turf Club Trophy (Gr 3) soon on returning to Pune and gone close in the Southern Command and the Nirmal Ruia. He bettered his Pune form this time while winning the AC Ardeshir Trophy (Gr 3) defying the odds and dismissing the reputation of being a better sprinter than a miler.
Rajasthan Royals slipped into the lead soon on start and galloped up at a good clip. Star of Gibraltar, Onassis and Star Marques followed in close order and the rest were also with the front bunch, Smashing the exception being ridden off the pace.
Rajasthan Royals had the momentum going and never allowed the threat of the others closing in upset his rhythm. Jockey CS Jodha put his head down and focused on his mouth progressed rather than bother about the others catching up. Yuville slipped through the rails, Onassis made his bid from the outside and Star of Gibraltar was staying put right with the leader. With a furlong to go, they were all closely huddled and it was not clear who would land the spoils. Yuville was covering ground briskly, Star og Gibraltar was stubbornly staying put, Onassis was threatening to flourish in his known fashion. All the flutter did not deter Rajasthan Royals as he galloped on to win convincingly from Yuville ending on his haunches. Star of Gibraltar managed to stay ahead of Onassis. Smashing ended off the frame but never really looked the part. She looked on the softer side and although she was a fraction of a second from the winner, she appeared far from her best. Coming from a layoff, she was work in progress to get to her peak.
Papakura (Senure – Autocop) shed his maiden ranks and earned his first most memorable victory in a tight finish. Papakura jumped out and shot ahead before settling down when Sea Pearl and Hercules darted past to be in front. Favorite Act of War and New World galloped next with Papakura on the inner rails and Amitayus on the outside.
Act of War led briefly after straightening up but was soon challenged by the progressing New World. Act of War was doing his best to stay in contention but was not looking too convincing. Amitayus showed a flash of brilliance but failed to sustain. Papakura came between horses to make a final assault on New World. The duo battled stride for stride and at the wire Papakura showed that little sparkle stretch his neck out to beat New World in a thrilling finish.
Trainer Pesi Shroff saddled two popular fancies to score a fine double. Ambrosia (Razeen – Adored) made easy meat of challenger Okavango while the shortest priced favourite Marinsky (Burden of Proof – Sabre Dance) pulverized the opposition.
Ambrosia looked a picture in the paddock and when they were sent out of the gates, she settled back well of the pace. Spirit of Mercy did all the front running leading by more than 4 lengths past the 800. Okavango chased the leader with Swift Memories in third, Ambrosia ambled along the way in fourth a fairly long distance away from the leader.
Spirit of Mercy was soon tackled by Okavango who took charge early in the straight. Swift Memories was keeping up but not surging forward. Ambrosia picked up speed and how! She was still in deficit with about 350 to go, but looked the winner the moment she began to accelerate. She swooshed down upon Okavango and strode out majestically to win by more than three lengths in an impressive fashion.
Marinsky won in much the same fashion as her stable mate did, only she was right at it in second chasing Invincible from early on. Invincible led them in the homestretch with Marinsky a couple of lengths away but stepping on it and bridging the gap. Zervan confidently relied on just pushing Marinsky and never went for the whip. Marinsky did not need to be alerted as she got past Invincible at half throttle and easily sailed past to convince that more is yet to come. Invincible too ran a better race and will mature to enjoy his day in the sun.
Barringo (Alnasr Alwasheek – Maria T) also found his feet on the day and galloped to his maiden victory in his 10th outing. He was taking on a big field of 15 runners for the Indo-German Christmas Trophy for class IV over 1400.
Windsor Queen and Crrisp swung into the lead soon on start with Eclipsed and Barringo occupying the third and fourth spot. The fancied Home Advantage was at a disadvantageous position that marred all his chances.
Windsor Queen led them in and held a couple of lengths lead in hand. However, Barringo warmed up furiously and charged at the leader. The way Barringo accelerated he looked the winner once he took charge past the 300. He went on to pile up an impressive lead and reminded one of former commentator Dr Sood’s popular description – “long way from home…” . Eclipsed improved in the straight to take the runner up berth ahead of Sophisticated while Dancing Jenny covered good ground to break into the frame.
This Ones For You (Glory of Dancer – Our Royal Highness) sprung a surprise and floored most followers of form and favorites. The bottom weight ridden by Sandesh put in a scintillating run poking through a bunch of horses to shock favorite Good Looking and carve out a narrow win to clinch the Bayer Trophy.
Mountain Mynah led the field homewards taking over from Irresistible Hunk. The others were closing in with Albuurz showing a wee bit of sparkle. Good Looking joined them on the outside, which is when This ones For You poked through a narrow gap between horses. Once he saw daylight, This Ones For You surged ahead at a good clip to seal the issue once and for all. Good Looking tried hard to make up but could only manage to cut down the margin of victory. Daffodils made his way through the rails to end in place money. Both Mountain Mynah and Albuurz who followed the top three home, were seen perking up and need watching in their next assignments.
Al Zamarud (Emerald Cat – Cristina) took a good jump hit the front and won in typical Narendra Lagad-ward style. He had a firm grip all through the race and when Riding on the Strom began to challenge his lead, Al Zamarud put in a more determined effort to ward the challenger off. Arabian Lord did pretty well to earn the third spot ahead of Blessed.
Roger Bcool (Placerville – Million Girl) had been guilty of starting flaw on more than one occasion and had found the shorter Pune straight impossible to make up in the end. This time too, Roger Bcool falter a touch at the start, but on the sprawling Mumbai homestretch, had enough time to make a serious bid in the straight.
Crème De La Crème and Warrior Prince guided the field homewards with Walking Tall prominently poised close behind. Foxtrot soon came upon the scene and threatened to stretch away. Foxtrot had barely taken over when Roger Bcool and Zaracha throttled forward to challenge. The last fifty meters was full of action as Roger Bcool zipped ahead with Zaracha and Foxtrot on either side. Roger Bcool nosed the wire just ahead of Foxtrot who was caught unawares and Zaracha putting in a strong finishing effort to dish out a superb three-way finish.
For the professionals, Pesi Shroff saddled a double and jockey P Trevor notched up two winners.