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Doi Moi Survives a Close ‘Call’

By Mahendra Mallya | 15 Oct 2011 | PUNE

Trainer Nosher Cama leading Doi Moi (Neeraj Rawal Up), winner of The Suresh Mahindra Trophy

All those who were disappointed with the two-horse race for the Suresh Mahindra Trophy over 3200 meters, were treated to the most thrilling race of the day. The sparring rivals ran all around the course and more, keeping a watchful eye on one another until they entered the final bout of the marathon contest. At the end of it, both Doi Moi and Clarion Call were still standing on their feet. It was not a KO. Doi Moi won on points, narrowly!

From the start, it looked a battle of wits. The paddock looked a lot more spacious than usual, with only the Shyam Ruia camp and the Dallas Todywalla camp occupying the area. However, the tense atmosphere was evident as the anxiety and commotion was at a high level. Last minute instructions and suggestions were pouring in on the two jockeys as to how best one could outlast the other. And as the gates opened, the crowds jeered more than they cheered, as the two-horse field resembled a mock race. The way it finally turned out, the wonderful equines could mock at us humans, providing a lesson that nothing can be considered a foregone conclusion.

Doi Moi and Clarion Call set off in that order, not more than 2-3 lengths separating them at any juncture. In an innovative gesture, race caller Deepak Rajpal, delivered a brief history behind the race, earlier called the Northumberland Trophy and also about Mr Suresh Mahindra, in whose memory the race has been titled for the past few years.

Neither looked weary of the long 2800 meters that they had galloped thus far, while approaching the final turn for home. If the pace of the race was not particularly fast, it was not an altogether crawl either. It also appeared that if they did, both contenders took a breather at the same juncture as well. Clarion call played Doi Moi’s evening shadow, their rhythm almost identical.

It all happened as if well orchestrated, when they entered the homestretch. Jockey Neeraj Rawal peeped behind and surely noticed the large frame of Clarion Call. Doi Moi quickened soon on turning for home, Clarion Call too started to cover ground. Then began a regal battle that lasted the length of the straight! At the distance post, they were inseparable. Clarion Call even headed Doi Moi for split seconds, jockey Dashrath Singh getting the best out of Clarion Call. Neeraj Rawal too got Doi Moi to stretch out and the pair dashed past the wire together. A neck-verdict saw Doi Moi return triumphant in a fantastic finish. The crowd cheered both, the horses and the jockeys, showering flowers for the gallant contest they were treated to, the duo returned after such a heroic feat.

“It was tense moments in the final furlong. A race over the distance is always tricky, more so if it’s a small field. The final furlong was pulsating; I can imagine the apprehension in the stands, particularly my boss’s box. Along with the horses, my heart was racing too, probably faster. I am relieved it ended the way it did, and yes, all credit to Clarion Call, he was a game fighter. Doi Moi deserved to win, his last run was suggestive. He had finished well ahead of Clarion Call whenever they met this season. I would have been happier with a longer margin and an easier race, but I will take this,” said jockey Neeraj Rawal.

The Coolmore Stud Crystal Trophy had only four in the fray. Saints N Sinners was quick to push for the lead, but was closely followed by the trio comprising Set Afire, Pure Elation and the favourite Ocean Wish (Diffident – Marmalade) in close order. Into the straight, Saints N Sinners, carrying the top weight (59.5kgs) was finding it too hot to handle. Ocean Wish made rapid progress to the front from the last spot in quick time. Pure Elation too was making her presence felt. However, Ocean Wish finished on strongest to lunge forward in the last furlong to win comfortably. Jockey Dashrath Singh tightened his grip on the season’s championship title, scoring a well-deserved victory, stretching away from his nearest title challenger, jockey C Rajendra, who drew a blank through the day.

The Goffs Salver was consumed by Knighton who displayed complete domination. Knighton (Razeen – Burooq) bulldozed his way into the lead tearing through between front-runners Smart Hunter and Bretton Woods. Once Ladjadj Stephane got Knighton to the front, the Bezan Chenoy trainee bounded forward and made the rest look ordinary. He thumped the opposition thoroughly and should mature to snatch more attention in Mumbai. Fortune Hunter, who was chasing the winner, ended up doing so. Bretton Woods held on to earn place money. Carpe Diem made up for the tardy start covering a lot of ground to end in the frame.

Octopaul (Black Cash – Go Go Go) obviously needed his first couple of runs earlier this season and he soared to form after the two outings. He was coming into this race with a solid victory, albeit in the lowest class. The three year old gelding from trainer Imtiaz Sait’s yard lost some ground at the start but amply made up for it in the final furlong. Saddlers Rule had just taken over from runaway leader Enchanted and had Flying Jewel fighting hard on his outside. Octopaul whooshed past them all and in a trice surged past them with commendable acceleration, giving Dashrath Singh a back-to-back double. Flying Jewel fought a losing battle, was also hampered a little, but in no way would have countered the brilliance shown by Octopaul. Saddlers Rule ended a creditable third.

Beyond Stars (Stardan – Naivement) score a facile victory without encountering any challenge. Venus Rosewater led the field homewards but no sooner they entered the straight, Beyond Stars galloped resolutely to take charge and in the final furlong, pulled away from the rest. Halo of Fame ran gallantly to ward off Starseeker for the runner-up position. Forward Charge once again could not sustain and ended fourth. Starseeker ran a commendable third coming from behind to beat Forward Charge.

Banana Boy (Senure- Lovely Fantasy) made up for his stable-mate Flying Jewel’s loss and brought cheer to his camp. Settling just behind front running Twittillator and Herzeliyah, Banana Boy brushed up to be abreast with the pair on straightening for home. Approaching the distance post, Banana Boy worked up a sizzling gallop and accelerated tremendously to stretch away for a fashionable victory by over four lengths. Arshavin was the best of the beaten lot. He covered considerable ground to beat Herzeliyah for the second spot. Daredevil too improved well to end in the frame.

Daffodils (Senure – Love Call) posted a no-nonsense victory and justified the heavy support she received in the betting ring. She was quick to settle behind the leader Moment To Remember and once into the straight, Daffodils shot away from them all to win convincingly. Prince of Troy ran on from behind to end a good second beating Silver Screen and Moment To Remember close home.

Aslan (Mr Mellon – Star Pride) won a thrilling battle as fortunes kept swinging in the homestretch. Joint leaders Sacred Relic and Radical Mackie were pushed out of contention coming into the homestretch. Arzaan looked good when he came to the front and just when things were looking bright for him, Aslan bounded forward. At this point Aslan looked a clear winner but a late blitz from Final Attack brought the race alive yet again. Final Attack came with a brilliant finish but Aslan, who had Suraj Narredu on board just manage to thwart the challenge to hold on narrowly. Final Attack, despite being slow off did well to put a scare into Aslan and was unfortunate to fall short by a head.