Trainer S Padmanabhan leading Klipspringer (David Allan Up), winner of The Shantiniketan Cup
Padmanabhan trained Klipspringer proved to be much too fast for her dozen opponents in The Shantiniketan Cup on Friday at Bangalore. The seven furlong handicap for horses in the highest category featured a long card of nine events held at that centre. Well performed horses like Indian Bolt, Talisker and Southern Bay were seen conceding weight to the likes of Chul Bul Pandy, Klipspringer and Panamera. The last three had won in a lower class and were attempting to win their first race at this level. The other runners lacked form to have any sort of say at the finish. The betting action was limited to the above mentioned participants. On the basis of her close effort behind Immense and Silken Touch earlier in the season, Southern Bay was a marginal favourite in this race. There were many in her camp who hoped that she would re-produce her last winter form. However, that failed to materialize.
In a fast run race, Klipspringer shot out of the starting gates and set a good pace in front of Southern Bay and Chul Bul Pandy. David Allan held her on a tight leash till the bend and ensured that she was never more than a length ahead of the rest. With most of the runners traveling well within themselves at that stage, it was difficult to say who was moving better than the other. With Klipspringer maintaining her dominance in front, the others got tired. Southern Bay was the first to fade away from the scene. This allowed Chul Bul Pandy to move into second place. However, the winner was sighted a long way from home. Despite swishing her tail, Klipspringer thrived under David Allan’s guidance and powered home to a glorious victory. She showed no signs of any tiredness today. While Chul Bul Pandy retained his runner-up berth, it was Talisker who moved steadily from the rear to annex the third spot ahead of an exhausted Southern Bay.
David Allan and Padmanabhan had already annexed The Gangavathi Trophy earlier in the afternoon with Petite Fleur. The filly had allowed both of them to open their account for the season. This was perhaps the last seven furlong race reserved for maiden three year olds this year. The small made Petite Fleur was opposed by a number of horses that had been figuring regularly on the result boards. For most of them, this seven furlong trip was a new experience. In an “open” betting affair, a number of runners were supported by their respective yards. Vistabella set the early pace ahead of Simra, Rebuttal’s Hope and Assurance. The chasing pack led by Petite Fleur and Bella Pinky were within striking distance of the leaders. With Sreekanth making free use of his whip, it was Assurance that brought them into view. Her laboured movements confirmed that she would be unable to sustain her efforts. David Allan brought Petite Fleur with a flourish in the final furlong, and the talented filly skipped clear of the pack. She seemed to enjoy the extended trip today. Bella Pinky found late foot to push Assurance into third place. Sumitomo played up in the gates, and after a lethargic start, took no practical part in this race.
The other professional to do well on Friday was Srinath. By picking up a couple of races , he shared the day’s honours with Padmanabhan and David Allan. A nine furlong handicap for horses in class III was contested by a number of well performed horses. Last outing winners Chiron and Supreme were carrying stiff penalties into this race. A better weighted Cocktail Circuit was fancied ahead of the others. Stablemates Cocktail Circuit and Supreme cut the early wind and led comfortably at the bend. Srinath and Chiron were seen biding their time at that stage. The race took a serious turn near the two furlong marker. Chiron slipped through the rails and made a determined move towards Cocktail Circuit. Her lengthening strides ensured a smooth passage to the front. The favourite caved-in without a fight. Chiron thundered past her and went onto score a comfortable victory. Cocktail Circuit and Supreme were the best of the rest.
Srinath had to use all his skills while claiming his second win of the afternoon astride Deep Blue Sky. The five year old had been finishing close to the frame in recent months, and considering the quality of his present opponents, was expected to win today. In a large group of fourteen, Deep Blue Sky had to be scrubbed to get into an advantageous position in the early stages of this race. With second favourite Unique Show trailing the pack, the chances of Deep Blue Sky looked rosy at this stage. However, it was not all that easy. With the leading group consisting of Kripa, African Queen and Cinnamon Rush refusing to slow down, Srinath was forced to produce Deep Blue Sky towards the centre of the turf. He was soon joined on his outside by Foswell. With all these horses racing in close proximity of each other, one was assured of a thrilling finish. That is exactly what happened. To the delight of the betting public, strong favourite Deep Blue Sky got up on the last stride to beat Kripa and a late finishing Unique Show at the wire. The last named was distinctly unlucky today. Despite a troubled passage, she did well to finish a “neck” behind the winner.
Prasanna Kumar’s recent acquisition Archibaldo gave him his first victory this season. After performing brilliantly as a youngster, this six year old had suffered a huge setback in training. This had forced him to stay away from a race track for an extended period of time. Archibaldo ran twice in summer. After running a nice second on re-appearance, he was backed confidently in his next start. To the dismay of his supporters, he refused to come out of the gates that day. After moving stables, he was subjected to further preparation. Running over a suitable six furlongs, Archibaldo was entrusted to John today. Allowing Swift Star and Abnoba to go ahead of him, Archibaldo settled nicely in third place on the rails. Once the front-runners rolled out under pressure, he got a welcome opening. Seizing it immediately, Archibaldo shot away from the pack and managed to hold on to his advantage. Free Law appeared late on the scene to beat early leader Swift Star into third place.
A sparingly raced three year old named Frenemee had accepted to run in a class IV sprint on Friday. Apprentice M Prasad, who was yet to score a win in his career, was declared to ride this colt. The horse had been backed strongly all morning to beat the favourite Front Runner. A couple of factors that changed thereafter, saw more money being wagered on him. Firstly, Front Runner was declared a non-starter. The second thing that happened was that the raw apprentice was substituted by a more experienced Sahanawaz. Frenemee had be brushed-up to hold his third spot behind Lightning Express and Jeyem’s Pride as a closely packed field entered the straight. He maneuvered his way through the two leaders and hit the front thereafter. Under some relentless pushing from Sahanawaz, Frenemee established a winning lead near the distance post. Sareeta moved strongly from the rear to finish a close second. This filly is presently at a tidy mark, and trainer Dominic is sure to exploit her over a slightly longer trip in her next start.
The first race of the day was won in marvelous fashion by Dominic’s Key Of Knowledge. This filly came from way off the pace and shocked early leader April Babe near the winning post. It was an 1100 metres affair for horses in the 0-25 category. With a number of three year olds electing to run in this event, the race had an “open “look. Some late support for Key Of Knowledge and April Babe saw the two of them climbing the betting charts. Darting out of her inner draw, April Babe set a fast pace and skipped clear of Cash The Cheque and the others. Lacking early speed, Key Of Knowledge was seen being scrubbed by PS Chouhan from the word “go”. April Babe was so far ahead of the rest in the final furlong that her victory looked like a foregone conclusion. However, the drama was yet to unfold. Making a steady move through the pack, Key Of Knowledge moved steadily towards the leader. Within the next few strides, she moved ahead of a tired April Babe and scored an unexpected victory. The “never say die” attitude of champion jockey PS Chouhan paid rich dividends on Friday.
The day ended on a kind note for the punters, when hot favourite Native Indian romped home to an easy victory. This Mahesh trainee had scored in the same class during the summer season. Carrying a winning penalty, the five year old was competing against horses in his own age group today. The track trials indicated his readiness to strike. Native Indian looked immaculate in the parade ring, and performed on expected lines. With Shoban Babu holding him behind Cash Is King and Surprisesucceeding till the top of the straight, the field was tightly packed at the bend. But once he released the brakes, the race was over. Native Indian burst clear of the pack and won in a common canter from the late finishing Arun and a tired Surprisesucceeding. There is little doubt that the winner will score again on promotion.