Treble for Christopher Alford
The opening day saw the centre's leading jockey Christopher Alford scripting a fine treble and Javed Khan notching up a double.
However, Alford blotted his copy book with the debacle of Antonique. The half-money public choice was the rage of the ring. The fashionably-bred filly by China Visit out of Niche was in a box seat right after the jump-out as she laid a handy third behind the pace-setter Secret Wish. The second-favourite Racing Rumours was racing second while Md Islam atop the ultimate winner Dancing Vision gradually improved his mount from a faraway fifth to a close fourth.
Alford shot his mount ahead right after the turn and looked to have the race under wraps till the Javed Khan ward issued her challenge. After a brief duel, Dancing Vision pulled ahead to land the spoils at lucrative odds of 6/1.
In a way, Islam made up for a poor ride astride Charulata in the five-and-half furlong race for the Fiddler Handicap. The speedy filly surprisingly dropped back to be an unimpressive fourth after a good break from the gates. Using her handicap to good advantage, Imran Chisty took the Daniel David-trained filly Over The Limit to the helm of affairs within a furlong of the start and showed a clean pair of heels to the rest of the field despite drifting out. Elemental Wish failed to match strides with the winner and retired from the fray at the turn.
Christopher Alford opened his account with the three-year-old chestnut filly Compliment in the curtain-raiser and then powered Romantic Quest to a tough triumph over bottom-weighted Megillah in the race for the Zanzibar Trophy. The latter shrugged off front-running Razor Sharp easily enough but had no answer to Alford's power-packed finish.
Alford went one better with the favourite Olympic Medal in the Compassionate Cup. The five-year-old mare from Javed Khan's stable displayed a great zest for racing as she got the better of the runaway King Cole in the last stride. Jockey Mark was once again at the receiving end of his tussle with Alford.
Mark however encountered no such hurdle when he piloted the aged Sea Legend to a comfortable start-to-finish victory in the afternoon's final event, the Wind Song Handicap. The three-year-old filly Finesse was all at sea and it was left to the Pune import Art of War to fill the runner-up berth.