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Juventus Produces His Best to Win Southern Command

By Mahendra Mallya | 05 Sep 2010 | PUNE

Trainer S S Shah leading Juventus (C Rajendra UP), winner of The Southern Command Gold Trophy Grade-III

Jockey C Rajendra came up with a tremendous performance winning three races in a row including the Southern Command Gold Trophy (Gr3) and The Prive Trophy, the two top races of the day. Both these races were pretty open races on paper but the little man derived the best from his mounts and won each race convincingly. The Southern Command Gold Trophy had a strong line-up. Astral Flash at 7 to 2 was the favourite.

As the field of ten shot out of the gates, Juventus (Glory of Dancer-Flying Home) was quick on the gun, but settled down to fourth as Weizhou darted ahead. Soon Aristos was seen making quick progress to match strides with Weizhou. The rest were tightly packed, galloping at a steady pace. Weizhou and Aristos entered the straight together and the others spread out seeking a clear run. Rajendra sent Juventus sailing ahead approaching the distance post. Diego Rivera weaved his way from the rails to come from the outside. Ikaria was prominently poised but failed to make notable progress. Astral Flash could not make any headway either. However, Ecstatica, although cramped for room, finished on powerfully running a commendable third. Juventus was simply brilliant and easily held Diego Rivera, who probably felt short of a run.

Ecstatica is running into peak form and it would pay to watch her progress. Weizhou too ran a good race. It was pleasing to note that Lt Gen Pradeep Khanna recalled that Juventus had won this very race last year as well. The Lt Gen presented the Trophy to Mr Farouq Rattonsey, the proud owner who also bred Juventus at the Nanoli Stud. The Prive Trophy too was a big challenge. If not for anything else, the line-up was nudging the seams (19 juveniles).

A good start was crucial in such a big field and Rajendra was spot on as he was quick to hustle Ocean Star to be up third behind Ocean Fairy and Glowing Star. Ocean Star was travelling beautifully and took charge the moment they turned for home. Glowing Star was determined not to slip backward and despite drifting under pressure, held on grimly to end runner-up. Legionnaire and Endless Horizon rose from the mid-bunch to claim the minor placings with Legionnaire faring better of the two. Ocean Star (Antonius Pius-Crystal Flite) won easing up and looks a good type.

Highland Bounty (Royal Kingdom-Vivienne) created a flutter winning the Field Marshall Sam Maneckshaw Memorial Trophy defying a stiff handicap and at least two strongly fancied rivals. Smoking Aces was the leading fancy and Their Lil Sister too had a decent following. Their Lil Sister got a wee bit hampered between horses at the start and had to jostle for position. By that time, Flames of Fire and Smoking Aces had shot ahead. Their Lil Sister ran close to the rails with horses in front. Highland Bounty, meanwhile, made good progress to be prominent at the turn. Flames of Fire was strongly challenged by Smoking Aces soon on straightening up. Smoking Aces went in and CS Jodha later lodged an objection against Malcolm which was overruled by the stewards. Inside the final furlong, Highland Bounty came with a superlative effort and literally breezed past the fighting duo.

Their Lil Sister accelerated the moment she got a clear run and finished on well to save the place money. Highland Bounty won well. Their Lil Sister bears watching and Smoking Aces too seems to be getting into the groove. Star Warrior lost on the post, caving in to the stiff challenge posed by Shroff-trained Xisca (China Visit-Altimara). Xisca, who had run third in the Kingfisher Bangalore Derby (Gr1) this summer, showed no signs of rustiness and was well up to the task. She languished leisurely at the tail-end of the field unperturbed by Star Warior’s pacemaker, Sea Queen mounting a massive lead. Star Warrior had certain plans and he settled behind the leader nice and early. Mighty Crusader was toiling with the weight he was giving his rivals and only beat the no-hoper Sea Queen, who had done her duties well - setting the pace for her ownermate Star Warrior.

Star Warrior entered the straight well in hand, even enjoying a two-length lead with 300 to go. Xisca shook off Mighty Crusader off her neck and started to inch closer to the hot favourite. The battle began at the distance post when Xisca joined Star Warrior for a fight to the finish. Both went hammer and tongs matching stride for stride. Jockeys Dashrath Singh and NS Parmar were both determined and focussed, keeping an eye each on the winning post and the adversary alongside.

Eventually, Parmar and Xisca, both at their best, just managed to nose the wire a fraction ahead of Star Warrior who was gallant in defeat. This one was a blinder and had the adrenalin of every watcher flowing. Jockey Dashrath Singh, as if smarting from this heartbreaking loss, came back with vengeance to win the next race, in fact, the next two races, with the unfancied Barbara and Crème De La Crème. Prime Time led the field from early on and kept going at a nice pace. Blades Of Glory chased the leader along with Emerald Star.

Barbara (Senure-Striesand) raced in the mid-field but not too far from the action. Prime Time looked solid as he entered the straight, still going well. Blades Of Glory was not getting anywhere and the prime fancy Emerald Star looked spent. Barbara pounced from the outside while her stablemate Eye Of The Storm was making steady progress from the inner rails. Prime Time was desperately scrambling towards the winning post when, with less than 100 to go, Barbara swooped upon him and spoiled his party. Eye of the Storm did well to end third. Crème De La Crème (Royal Gladiator-Quiet Fancy) reaped rich rewards for her consistency and bagged the Col. Kaikhushroo Maneckji Bharucha Memorial Trophy despite carrying the top weight (60 kilos).

Taking a smooth start, the Naren filly settled behind Lord of Killarney and Glorious Miss. Lord of Killarney tried the same runaway tactics he had applied in his last outing and drew a similar result as well, another good second! Aberdovey was in the mid-group and had to be niggled to keep focus but warmed up well towards the end to snatch the third place from Glorious Miss. But it was Crème De La Crème who impressed most, as she got into a fluent rhythm to quicken tremendously at the business end, sailing away to a three-length victory. Aberdovey surely did enough to get noticed for a slightly longer distance. Manitou Splendour and Perpetuation ran below par and were never in the hunt. Saba (Glory of Dancer-Fast Trick) made an awesome come-back returning to the race track after a long gap of a year.

Saba packed up after her last Pune campaign and did not race in Mumbai. Trainer Rehanullah Khan has obviously worked wonders with his filly to get her back to such a sound condition. It is not too often that one sees an athlete return after a long lay-off and produce a winning performance. What was even more remarkable was the fact that Saba was the prime favourite and backed by her supporters with conviction. As the gates flung open, Appalina shot into the lead, with Prince Cyrus following close behind. Although the entire field ran in a close huddle, one had to really search for Saba, who was closer to the rear end of the field. Appalina was going well under a determined Tograllu and only Prince Cyrus looked a visible threat.

The likes of Tyumen, Royal Companion and Tommy Carmichael were looking least dangerous. Saba, with Sandesh astride, started the task of manoeuvring her way to contention. It won’t be an exaggeration if I said that Saba had to literally zigzag her way to the leaders as she had to skirt around horses to take a final crack at victor. She slipped in finally from the rails to a breathtaking victory. This was one hair-raising display. Kudos to trainer Rehanullah for this one! Black Phantom (Placerville-Riyatifia) returned to old form going over his optimum trip of a mile and a quarter. Tintoretto tried the runaway tactic, but could not sustain it all the way. Black Phantom settled down well in fourth place and improved gradually to get alongside Strauss who was second for the most part of the journey.

On entering the straight, jockey Tograllu hurried Black Phantom to the front easily passing Tintoretto. Magical Mantra continued to chase but Black Phantom showed no signs of relenting and kicked on right through. For the professionals, Trainer Narendra Lagad scored a treble as did jockey C Rajendra. Trainer Sunderji and jockey Dashrath Singh scored a double each.