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Courageous Cabriolet Stands His Ground

By Mahendra Mallya | 14 Aug 2011 | PUNE

Mr & Mrs K N Dhunjibhoy & Mr Vijay B Shirke leading Cabriolet (Dashrath Singh Up), winner of The Vascon Eve Champion Trophy Gr-3

The transition of Pesi Shroff from a legendary jockey to a top-class trainer has been smooth, steady and inspiring. The nonchalant horseman has proved repeatedly that few can match his wherewithal and success particularly on big occasions. Sunday was another day when he stamped his signature on the day’s two graded races – the Grade 3 The Vascon Eve Champion Trophy (Cabriolet) and the Grade 2 The FD Wadia Trophy (Picasso), two prestigious races of the season.

Cabriolet (Glory Of Dancer – Highland Ghillie) garnered the maximum support almost to the exclusion of his rivals. Sharing the market spoils with Ocean And Beyond, the Nanoli Derby Winner 0f 2010 at ante-post, the bookmakers yet again proved that they had a sharp ear to the ground as the quote on Ocean And Beyond drifted into the fours more than double his opening price. The largess was amazingly accurate as Ocean And Beyond failed to beat even his lesser fancied owner-mate Highland Crown.

At race time, Cabriolet, who was a rage in the ring, settled to chase the leader Mr Greedy who set an ordinary early pace. Ocean And Beyond chose to remain at the tail-end for most of the 2000m journey. Mr Greedy led the field homeward but soon Cabriolet charged ahead to gain control. Ocean And Beyond was the widest of the five who had spread out to make their final bid. Cabriolet looked in control as jockey B Prakash kept him going at a good clip. Cabriolet was responding well too and although he was not exactly tearing away from the rest, he surely was not slowing down. Ocean And Beyond raised some hope approaching the distance post but that was just a cigarette lighter spark which did not light to a flame. Highland Crown, however, showed a lot more spunk in asking questions off Cabriolet. Cabriolet shifted inwards exactly from where a threat was emerging, Prakash astutely keeping Cabriolet just on the borderline of the ‘legal drifting’ limits.

Cabriolet won sparing a narrow half length at the wire. Ocean And Beyond was an unimpressive third just managing to pip Mr Greedy but nowhere close to the top two. Native Knight ended another length away and despite finishing last of five, his effort was not disappointing.

Harlamoff (Glory Of Dancer – Winning Spurs) made light work of the heavy weight (62 kgs) and galloped to his fifth straight victory, his first in Pune. This was a display of complete dominance. Harlamoff basked in the rear in the field of four as Lyrical Symphony did all the initial hard work. Living The Dream and Icon followed the leader. As Lyrical Symphony brought the field into view, Harlamoff, still hard held, surged past. Jockey Prakash had the race all sewn up, going hands and heels all the way and winning it unopposed. A sixth victory is lurking for Harlamoff who is in terrific form at the moment. Lyrical Symphony too looked good and claimed the runner-up honours making it a one-two finish for the Shirkes and trainer MK Jadhav.

Set Afire and Pure Elation (Royal Kingdom – Piccolina) provided the most gripping finish of the day with the latter coming from behind and timing his finish to perfection. There was a dramatic turn to the race midway into the race when the favourite El Clasico, in the middle of a tight pack, clipped and stumbled, throwing jockey Dashrath Singh off in what appeared a nasty fall. Tamarai, who was just behind, veered suddenly and came down with a thud, flinging Akash Agarwal as well. It certainly looked a horrible fall. Fortunately, both the jockeys and the horses were not seriously injured.

Set Afire took charge early in the straight, getting past Red Passion with ease. Daffodils, who was right there, failed to quicken and squandered a certain opportunity. Pure Elation soon came around and was accelerating well. Dancing Glances was stuck behind the retiring Red Passion and lost valuable ground. She never got a clear passage to launch an all-out attack yet ended a close third. Set Afire fought on bravely, but Pure Elation was gaining on Set Afire with each stride. A forceful Neeraj Rawal did well to push Pure Elation’s nose on the wire just in time. Set Afire was unlucky to miss out and Dancing Glances too would rue the crowding she had to counter in the crucial part. Dancing Glances is the one to note.

Star Of Gibraltar (Alnasr Alwasheek – Dancing Image) showed notable improvement over his last effort to force a victory. He went past early leader Royal Crest soon on turning for home and when challenged by Knighton into the final furlong, a determined Rajendra and an equally up-to-the-task Star Of Gibraltar fought on bravely to deny Knighton a debut win. Knighton appeared to have headed Star Of Gibraltar with a hundred still to go, but the Dallas ward never gave up to score a well-earned maiden victory. Bling ran a forward race and ended a decent third while Prince Arius improved to end in the frame.

Hurricane Henri had a fatal debut - a tragic end of a promising colt. Just when he was making his final bid on turning for home, he fell and snapped his front fore fetlock. The injury was certainly incurable and after careful examination by the Vet, the painful decision to euthanize Hurricane Henri was the obvious alternative.

Trainer Narendra Lagad once again showed his consistency in sending out a lucrative double - one a hot favourite and the other, a major upset, going by the market trends. Moment To Remember (Ontario – Momentarily) was heavily backed in the first race of the day after her stylish victory. She amply justified the faith of a large number of followers and provided the encore without causing undue anxiety.

Rain Forest shot ahead and Moment To Remember sat on his tail with Distinguished a close third. The others made little impact in the race. Rain Forest and Moment To Remember entered the straight together and for the first half of the homestretch, they were glued together fighting for every quarter of turf. Distinguished was hard ridden to keep up but was neither gaining nor falling back. Moment To Remember made a decisive surge forward coming into the final furlong and finished a lot stronger than Rain Forest who may have needed the run. Distinguished ended a close third. Persian improved towards the finish and ran a decent fourth.

Creme De La Creme (Royal Gladiator – Quiet Fancy) followed the ‘take jump hit front’ tactics to the hilt and her initial burst of speed held her in good stead all through. She had a handy lead coming into the straight with prime fancy Hottie who received good support from the bettors chasing the leader all the way. Midnight Club and Call to Arms came next as they turned for home.

Creme De La Creme kept the momentum going and it was clear that the challengers had to draw extra power to get past her. Hottie was the one to get closest. Hottie warmed up far too late and towards the dying moments, she unleashed a power-packed run which indicated that she would have relished a bit longer. All Hottie could do was cut the margin of victory. Midnight Club also moved well to end a close third. Old-timer Call To Arms ran on to end in the frame.

The Wadhawan camp too enjoyed twin success although from different yards. Sunlight Magic from trainer Vinayak’s stables looked all keyed-up in the paddock. But she was absolutely focussed when it mattered and galloped resolutely in the straight. Little Warrior called the early shots and surrendered the lead meekly as Sunlight Magic started to mount her challenge. Sunlight Magic (Mr Mellon – Chardonnay) easily shot ahead and sped away with a good burst. Celestial Call produced a good gallop but could not step up his bid and had to be content with the runner-up berth. Blue Mellon laboured his way into place money.

Star Glory (Ontario – Shanley) made up for missing out in his last outing with a good forward run sitting well up alongside Aleutian Zone. Entering the straight, Star Glory surged ahead while the heavily fancied Royalty lost ground and rhythm when he went out wide at the turn, not solely his fault. Adams Prince turned with an exaggerated curve and the hapless Royalty had to veer out further. He was not in the best of positions coming into the straight and that drift-out was fatal for his chances of any recovery.

Star Glory galloped on regardless and easily thwarted the attempts of Sweaty Betty, who did make a strong bid in the final furlong. Fantastic Kingdom ran on to end in the money, while So True improved well to figure in the frame.

Samiel proved too good for her rivals and favourite Irresistible Hunk cut pace with Al Zamarud and after the turn had nothing left. Samiel (Placerville – Shamaal) propelled at full throttle and the power burst was too sizzling for any of the contenders to match. Riding Onthe Storm was just starting to make his presence felt when Samiel tore away to score a facile victory. Marudhara Ratan showed good consistency finishing on third close behind Riding Onthe Storm.

Trainers Narendra Lagad and Pesi Shroff saddled a double each.