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Cardinal Makes a Swashbuckling Debut

By Mahendra Mallya | 07 Aug 2011 | PUNE

Mr. Vijay B Shirke & trainer P Shroff leading Cardinal (S Zervan Up), winner of The Havovi Khusro Jalnawala Memorial Juvenile Million

Favourites were the order of the day on Sunday at Pune. With most of the fancied horses putting up a good show, Jockeys returning to the winners enclosure got a rousing welcome from the crowd who happily showered flowers giving the riders a hero’s welcome in most races. Ladjadj Stephane was the crowd favourite as he booted home a popular treble and received tremendous applause from the masses.

The one to steal the limelight however, was the Shirke’ owned Placerville x Haunting Beauty chestnut colt Cardinal. The Shroff trained debutante displayed awesome speed with a temperament to match. His effortless striding in the straight gave away ample evidence of his rich talent and high quality and this is one colt you could back to go far. He has only just started and has immediately caught the eye. There is no questioning that he has been blessed with blinding speed and it would interesting to follow his career graph. With Pesi Shroff to guide him, he should mature well and his future prospects look exciting.

The Havovi Khusro Jalnawala Memorial Juvenile Million saw a huge line up with 21 in the fray. The odds straight away pointed to Cardinal the firm favourite and a good return of 17 to 10 against. It was pleasant to notice that all the juveniles were alert at the gates resulting in a cramped bunch charging towards the first furlong mark. Cardinal was covered for room and was not in the best of positions with a relatively inexperienced Zervan managing his colt’s first show.

Zervan was up to the task and showed maturity in nursing Cardinal along and biding his time. As they turned for home, Cardinal was still closer to the rear end, which was not too far from the thick of things. However, the wall of horses in front would surely be a concern. Zervan was focussed and he made the right moves at the right juncture and manoeuvred his way skirting possible jams and got the opening he was hunting for. Once the clear passage came through, Cardinal did not need any instructions from Zervan. He stepped up pace and boy, was he galloping! It was all over in matter of split seconds and Cardinal swamped the opposition with breathtaking ease and undisputed authority. Even a good effort from the late finishing Mountain Prince paled in the brilliance of Cardinal. There were some good performances through the day, but for me, Cardinal was the star of the day.

Attila (China Visit – Al Dante) too dished out a cracking performance giving his nine speedy rivals a thorough beating. Attila had just returned from Bangalore running two forward races there and looked the fittest in the paddock. A special prize to a ‘Beauty Pageant’ for horses was claimed by Mighty Crusader though. The horse was awarded a medallion and the groom of the horse, for the first time, was rewarded with a Bajaj motor bike. That was a good gesture on Khusro Jalnawala, the sponsor of the day. On the track however, Attila stamped her authority homing in with a scintillating burst in the final furlong. Attila was always prominent settling behind early leader Star Trainer, Dear Henry and Weizhou. Once in the straight, Weizhou produced some good acceleration to stay ahead until Attila produced a fiery burst to smother him. Star Future, the other leading contender in the race, worked his way up from the rear to make a valid attempt past the Grand Stands. Star Future, however, could not sustain and ended a tame third failing to conquer a spirited Weizhou. Attila was simply sizzling and won extremely well. Mighty Crusader closed up the other slot in the frame.

Beautiful Stranger (Glory of Dancer – Double Wish) added another victory to his list, outpacing the impressive Elizabeth for the Gamble For Love Trophy. It promised to be a close race as Elizabeth too had come into the race with a facile victory and was also at a six kilo advantage. The betting trends though swayed confidently in favour of the Shah trained Beautiful Stranger.

National Glory, did not surprise anyone as he sailed into the lead and worked up a nippy pace initially and was a good three lengths ahead. Schnell tried to bridge the gap but was not up to it whatsoever. He duly bowed out of contention well before the turn. Elizabeth and Beautiful Stranger were weary of one another and raced together keeping a vigilant pulse on the pace of the race. Beautiful Stranger made the first move as Srinath pushed Beautiful Stranger past Elizabeth to join National Glory at the turn. Elizabeth moved through the rails alongside Beautiful Stranger and there was a bit of skirmish as YS Srinath set alight Beautiful Stranger soon on turning for home. Zervan later lodged an objection which was rightly overruled by the stewards.

Beautiful Stranger shot ahead with a furlong and a half to go and unleashed his now famous turn of foot in the final furlong, to seal the issue much earlier than was expected. Although the two top contenders hogged most of the attention, National Glory’s was not a bad effort at all.

The Mayor of Pune Mr Mohan Singh Rajpal was present to give away the Mayor’s Trophy the supporting event in the day for three year old maidens. Marauder (Alnasr Alwasheek – Aroma) with the forceful Rajendra astride ensured that he guided the DR MAM Ramaswamy owned gelding home safely to the relief of the large following Marauder garnered.

Kathelynn hit the front early and Marauder soon started to run right on her tail. The duo never let anyone pass them all through the race. The pair was clear of the rest with Swift Memories working on catching up on them. In the straight, Marauder upped the ante and easily joined and passed Kathelynn. In doing so, Rajendra and Marauder shifted in and kathelynn’s jockey C Alford claimed that the incident caused him a check. Considering that Kathelynn re-ran spiritedly and ran Marauder close had the Stewards deliberating for a while before concluding that there wasn’t enough to uphold the objection. Swift Memories ran fairly close to the pair and did well to earn some place money in the process. Swagger disappointed.

Ashwa Prayag (Placerville – Betfair) pulled off a well schemed victory ridden to a plan by jockey Dashrath Singh. Houdini went past Flying Spirit to lead the field, Royal Porthcawl too was right with them with Ashwa Prayag very much in the vicinity. Dashrath improved position steadily to surge past Houdini to take charge coming into the straight. From thereon he quickened further and kept a safe distance from any possible threats emerging from behind. Royal Porthcawl tried hard but failed to catch up. Arzaan was the one to finish on well and got the closest to the winner. In a similar bunch and distance Arzaan could assert himself. A furlong more would perhaps suit him better. Macho Uno and Full Throttle too ran on well towards the end.

Trainer Sangramsingh N Joshi had another ace up his sleeve after the victory of his ward Ashwa Prayag and he played that ace in the Aurora Aurealis Plate the seventh race of the day. Phosphor (Trans Island – Inventive) fresh from an impressive last start victory, provided an encore with sheer speed outpacing the rest in a convincing manner in the higher class as well. Phosphor disputed the early lead with favourite Scenic Silver and the pair came up to the turn together. Phosphor got stronger in the straight and shot ahead clear of the rest. Scenic Silver was completely outclassed and ended in the rut. Saba showed good finishing efforts to run a good second. Silver Soul was hard ridden to end in the money.

Trainer Narendra Lagad kept alive his consistency with a double winning both the divisions of the Nelson River Plate, the first and last race of the day. Red Tabasco (Royal Kingdom – Musical Pepper) packed a punch in his finish and tore away from Ran Banka and stifled the ideas of a challenge from C’est La Vie at the distance post. He sped away cleanly and won untroubled. C’est La Vie found the winner too good, but this was an improved effort from C’est La Vie who could take some positives from this run. Ran Banka ran on to finish third. Heaven Prize who held fort until the final 300 had a good lung opener.

The last race spelled doom for the well-backed San Rafael at the gates itself. His blindfold was not taken off on time resulting him in losing crucial ground at the start for the six-furlong sprint. Despite this the Faisal Abbas trainee ended a good fourth. The stewards later held an enquiry into the start of the race and having viewed the clear disadvantage to San Rafael, ruled to declare him a non-starter. All bets placed on San Rafael both with the bookmakers and the totes were refunded.

Prince of Troy (Warrshan – Princess Helen) however, was at his best and battled his way to force a win beating Ocean Power in a thrilling finish. Ocean Power seized the lead from Be Cool on entering the straight and quickened further to lead them into the final furlong. Prince of Troy with the fiery Ladjadj Stephane in sublime form, caught up with Ocean Power with a little less than a furlong to go. Ocean Power offered stiff resistance, but Prince of Troy finished on strongly scoring decisively. Ocean Power went down fighting and will live to fight another day. Grant Park, the other fancied runner ran on to finish third. Equiano was elevated to the fourth spot after San Rafael was declared a non starter.

The star professional of the day was indeed Ladjadj Stephane who rode home three well fancied runners. Doubles tumbled in a heap from four yards, with trainers Pesi Shroff, Narendra Lagad, SS Shah and S N Joshi all sending out two winners each.