By Mahendra Mallya
Monday 10 Sep 2018
Mrs Sharmila Padmanabhan, Col. Swapan Bhadra leading Desert God (A Sandesh Up), winner of The President Of India Gold Cup (Gr.2)

The prestigious President of India Gold Cup (Gr2) has always been an exciting race with stalwarts competing from around the country each year. Desert God the multi-classic winner from astute trainer S Padmanabhan’s yard was the favourite and the centre of attraction to the large local crowd. Hyderabad has always been a happy hunting ground for Desert God, who has never lost on this turf. He came here first as a three-year-old and won the hearts of the sporting Hyderabad crowd by winning the Deccan Colts’ Championship Stakes (Gr3) and followed that up with a splendid Classic double bagging the Deccan Derby (Gr1) in 2015. The following year as a four year old he won the President of India Gold Cup beating Alaindair in a close finish.

He was back again and the favourite to win this years edition of the President of India Gold Cup (Gr2) and he thrilled them all over again. There was a hush as Sandesh guided him to the front to dictate the pace of the 2400m race right from the start. He was carrying the top weight at 62 kilos yet he galloped freely making his own pace and letting them follow him all round the course.

He entered the straight with a tidy lead and started to accelerate. Sandesh kept him going at a good clip, however, Reunion started to get closer approaching the distance post and a possible fight seemed brewing at that stage. That was not to be as Desert God put on a sustained bid right up to the wire leaving no chance to Reunion or the others to even get to sniffing distance. Desert God won handsomely adding another group race to his rich tally and scripted another glorious return to his name.

Siyabonga (Kingda Ka – Carousel) lived up to her top billing putting up a fine show while galloping majestically to score her maiden victory with an impressive stretch run. Siyabonga took the turn wide as Promiseofhappiness led them into the straight with Tiger of the Sea in tow. Siyabonga started to accelerate and produced high speed gallop to leave the rest pedestrian and march on ahead, sealing the issue long way from home. Once she took charge with a furlong and half to go, she looked in complete command. Jockey Kuldeep Singh simply guided the filly home enjoying a high-speed drive to the winning post. Siyabonga showed a lot of promise and bigger glories await her as she matures. Promiseofhappiness and Tiger of the Sea took the minor placing.

Rahul’s Pet (Green Coast – Singing Speed) ran another cracking race to pull off victory from an almost improbable position to score his second win on the trot. He won the Soli and Gool Poonawalla Gold Cup in a breath-taking fashion that got the crowd to their feet. While he had it easy last time, galloping on a cushion of a sizable lead in the straight then and kicking on to score, this time he was at the tail end of the field and the last one to enter the straight, discounting King of Pop who was already struggling approaching the turn.

With only a furlong to go and I bet no one could identify the winner with conviction, they were all huddled up and firing away towards the winning post. Dance Oh Dance was on the rails with Preciosa threatening on the outside, Moondancer was going all out, That’s My Class trying to slip in between them, Rahul’s Pet making steady progress weaving his way between horses and Prospero coming all guns blazing. What a sight for a sprint finish!

Rahul’s Pet and her rider Rohit Kumar deserve the accolades for their patience and perseverance as they encountered more than a couple of checks trying to make way, but eventually they did find one just at the right juncture to poke through and score a thrilling victory, a well-deserved one! That’s My Class ended second with Prospero finishing in the money in a blanket finish. Rahul’s Pet has picked up top form and may well score again. That’s My Class and Prospero too would live to fight another day.

Wave Rider (Top Class – Mizzna) ridden by Akshay Kumar, came up trumps yet again and scored his third career victory on the trot keeping a clean slate right through. He settled beautifully up with the pace set my On The Fire while his chief opponent Blue Empress found himself at the tail end of the field initially and moved up steadily as they trudged along.

On The Fire brought the field into the straight and kicked on gamely making steady progress into the final furlong. Wave Rider put in a chase and was warming up to the task with Akshay riding hard to get him to accelerate for the final finish. Meanwhile Blue Empress was struggling to keep pace and didn’t look at her very best and finished on tamely. Wave Rider picked up speed inside the final furlong and soon caught up with On The Fire and surged ahead to score convincingly. Guiding Force ran on to finish ahead of Blue Empress. Wave Rider was the pick of the lot who improved well towards the end and finished strongly and can be taken to do well next time out as well. As for Blue Empress, it was an ominous start that he paid highly for and he deserves another chance.

Ananth Vatsalya trained Dublin (Admiralofthefleet – Captivating) had it easy beating the lot with a fiery finish leaving them far behind while posting his first victory after a gap of over 20 months. He was right up in second behind In Command as they straightened up, and although he took a while to go into the lead, once he did, he produced a scorching dash to draw away from them in the final furlong. Jockey Ajeeth Kumar was totally in command at the closing stages and Dublin showed that he was far superior to the bottom class set of horses. Invasion beat Ice Mummy to the second slot.

Jockey Akshay Kumar hasn’t ceased to impress through the season and he was yet again in his elements astride Ta Ta who benefitted from this lad’s magic. Miracle King led the field into the homestretch and galloped on appearing to make it a successful start to finish essay as he was shaping well midway up the straight. Vijay’s Empress warmed up nicely and made a good forward surge, cutting the gap to the leader briskly. It was certain that they were heading for a photo finish with Vijay’s Empress gaining rapidly and Ta Ta also inching his way closer. It was indeed a three-way photo finish with Akshay Kumar riding with aplomb to pip Vijay’s Empress on the post, timing his run to a nicety. It was a brilliant finish and the confidence of the jockey was praiseworthy to get across the line from what looked a difficult task just strides earlier. Vijay’s Empress was unfortunate to  have been nosed out on the wire.

Champion Bull (Burden of Proof – Tetisheri) was bullish at the business end and he arrived from a long way back in the straight, making his run from the wide outside to knock off each rival one-by-one and make a grand finish to fight off an equally spirited bid made by Palace on Wheels. Champion Bull was at the rear end with 600 to go and skirted around the field for clear passage. Jockey A Sandesh showed why he is one among the top jockeys as he rode out spewing fire to devour ground with each stride and unleash a powerful finish torching the turf just at the right moment. Palace on Wheels seemed up to the task too as she too toppled the others galloping at a good rate but came a cropper when Champion Bull zipped past to beat her by a narrow margin. The M Srinivas Reddy trained gelding has been consistent in most of his runs and he was rewarded on the day with some fine showing and able handling by the champion jockey.  

Trainer N Narendra Singh’s Vijay’s Delight (Arazan – Castle Park) ridden by jockey Ajit Singh, won the first race of the day with a good burst of speed at the finish. He was in the mid-pack until the turn as Charlie Brown led them into the straight. Chinese Though was right behind and put everything into it trying to stay in contention for as long as possible. Vijays Delight started to close in on the front runners and soon swooped down on them and surged ahead with 100 to go. Shivalik Arrow was struggling to keep pace, while Indian Dreams, who was tardy at the start, was gaining ground but had too much of leeway to cover against Vijays Delight. Own Battle ran below par and finished off the frame. Vijays Delight kept the momentum going and won with a little to spare over Indian Dreams, while Sunday Carnival improved commendably over his previous runs and did well to finish in the money.  

For the professionals, jockeys A Sandesh and Akshay Kumar scored a double each.