My Friend Paul Storms to a Sensational Win
Trainer Neil Darashah, Mrs. Z Darashah & Mr. Arjun Sajnani leading My Friend Paul (Suraj Narredu Up), winner of The Hyderabad Silver Vass
Neil Darashah's My Friend Paul produced a sparkling gallop in the final stages and edged out the leaders in The Hyderabad Silver Vase, the feature event in Friday's racing at Bangalore. The mile race for horses in the highest class, which attracted ten runners, looked like a straight fight between top weighted Firezone and the lightly handicapped Desert Rule. Both of them had run some forward races in recent times and were running over a distance suited to their capabilities. While Desert Rule loves to dictate pace, Firezone is generally held back and ridden for eventual speed. In the hands of Imran Chisty, Desert Rule was considered marginally better than Firezone and this was reflected on the betting boards. The others were available at fancy odds. Desert Rule did the customary front running and raced well within himself while showing the way to a group headed by Our Little Savage, Blink and Salsera. Firezone was running third last and had only My Friend Paul and Cassandra behind him. The leader spared almost three lengths near the bend to Blink and Star Wave, and looked like retaining his advantage. Khurshad-ridden Firezone was weaving his way through the middle of the pack, and to his good fortune, a wide gap appeared at an opportune moment. With Desert Rule slowing down, Star Wave gaining ground and Firezone emerging from the pack, an exciting finish was on the cards. Not many realized the steady move being made by two runners on the wide outside. My Friend Paul and Cassandra made their moves at the same time and were gaining ground with each stride. The signature finish of Suraj Narredu was there for all to see, as he drove My Friend Paul with all his acumen to a sensational victory near the winning post. Firezone managed to retain his second spot ahead of Cassandra and Star Wave. Just two lengths separated the first four runners in this race. Darius Byramji's two year-old filly Ballibay (Alnasr Alwasheek- Bay Of Angels) made an impressive debut on the local track and showed that she is a "champion" in the making. She was one of the most expensive buys in the sales last year and is a very nice-looking specimen. The Topmost Cup for first season horses is one of the more important races for juveniles, and the result of this event is known to indicate their future prospects. Irfan Ghatala's Sun Dancing (China Visit- Access All Areas) was the betting rage in this race. The short priced favourite had been doing some excellent track work and beating seasoned horses with ease. Despite weighing out at 505 Kgs and looking heavy in the paddock, punters were unable to look beyond her. Sun Dancing was backed at 60/100, while the others were available at 8's and over as the horses began to get loaded into the gates. A soft hush descended on the course as the favourite Sun Dancing lost a lot of ground at the start and trailed the seven horse field. Elite Land, Ballibay and Tempus Fugit showed good temperament and settled into their rhythmic gallop as the runners took the rising ground and turned for home. Sun Dancing had been pushed up the slope and was under pressure to get closer to the leaders. It was pretty evident at that stage itself that the favourite was in no mood to gallop today. On the other hand, Ballibay showed a tremendous turn of foot and sped away from her rivals. Other than keeping her on an even keel, Suraj had very little to do on her. The filly extended her margin of victory and clocked a smart timing of 1 minute 13.66 seconds. For a first timer, this effort was very commendable. Tempus Fugit got up on the last two strides to get the better of Elite Land and took the second spot. For the records, favourite Sun Dancing finished almost fourteen lengths behind the winner. Irfan Ghatala confirmed to Indiarace later in the evening that Sun Dancing had lost one of her high heel shoes at the jump and was uncomfortable throughout the race. The unstoppable Suraj Narredu completed his treble for the day with a lucky victory astride Dhariwal's Sunny Spell. Early morning favourite African Sky was fractious at the start and was unfortunate to be rearing up when the gates opened. Chris Hayes could nothing more than complete the formality of finishing the race with her. Second favourite Moon Child had dropped the rider on the way to the start and had run riderless on the track. She was withdrawn before coming under starter's orders. It became a simple equation for Sunny Spell. She had to tackle Jamaican Bolt to win this race. Sunny Spell tracked Jamaican Bolt till the final furlong before getting the better of him. Suraj rode vigorously thereafter to keep Marie Curie and Sweet Surrender at bay. This being the last of the maiden races for three year olds this year, the bunch was fairly ordinary. It will take a while for any of them to win a race in open company. Another mile event for horses in class III generated a lot of excitement. Mahesh trained The Senator was carrying a huge penalty for his previous win and his connections were wanting to test his abilities over a longer trip. He was taking on a bunch of horses of his own vintage, who were all known to be comfortable over a galloping course. The final outcome of this race confirmed that The Senator does not "stay". The horse wobbled under pressure and finished off the frame. Market leader Arabian Prince delighted his fans with a smooth acceleration in the straight. Under the able guidance of Chris Hayes, Arabian Prince ran away from Portobello, Lush Lashes and early leader Brigade's Pride. The last three finished in a heap and were separated with the help of a camera. The two divisions of a scurry event were won by horses, who were scoring for the first time in their careers. Misty Moonlight had been figuring on the board in all her recent starts. Prakash had to use his talent to get this filly to nail a runaway Stagelight. The much older Stagelight can win a race in his own age group. Strongly fancied Pearl Of Bangalore ran a lethargic race and ended a poor fourth. The lower division was won by Michael Eshwer's Approach. He had been working well and was expected to figure prominently at the end. That is exactly what happened. Approach was held back in fourth spot behind Aetius, Constance and Black Beauty. Jockey De Souza pulled him out at the bend and essayed his challenge. The blinkered horse gained momentum and collared Constance with ease. Aetius hung on to his third spot ahead of Star league. Jockey Srinath received all round praise for his efforts astride Dominic's Snow Peaks. Dhariwal's well bred Rumour Proof was a hot favourite in this race. The small-made filly tried to make both ends meet but found a strong opponent in Snow Peaks. Sylvester De Souza on Rumour Proof and Srinath on Snow Peaks allowed their horses to lob along in front while taking the home turn. The race took a serious turn thereafter. Both the riders began urging their mounts and the pair of them galloped alongside for the entire length of the straight. The strong finish of Srinath on Snow Peaks resulted in the defeat of the odds-on Rumour Proof. Feelit Enjoyit ran well in the end to finish a fair third. The only other race in the day's card produced an equally close finish. Here again, the two market leaders came from the back and engaged each other in an exciting duel. Ready To Mingle and Cannavaro made their moves near the bend and overtook early leader Romance In The Air in the final furlong. Apprentice Khurshad on Cannavaro succeeded in keeping his horse going till the end, and beating Ready To Mingle by a head. The young man has been riding some good races in the last few months and the three kilos allowance claimed by him is bound to help his cause.