- india's first & foremost horse racing portal

Dashrath Singh Guides Portrush to Record-smashing Win

By Mahendra Mallya | 23 Aug 2009 | PUNE

Trainer Mr Bezan Chenoy leading Portrush (Dashrath Singh Up), winner of The Akkasaheb Maharaj Trophy

Portrush (Razeen – Husun) ran a near perfect race and beat a fiery set of top-class sprinters including the ‘in-form’ Red Romeo smashing the course record in the process. Schnell was the one to sprint to the lead with River Dancer, Portrush and Red Romeo in close vicinity. Pepe Junior came next along with Shyboy and Escravos. The others were not too far behind.

Taking the turn, Schnell was tightened by Red Romeo trying to march ahead and soon Portrush joined the duo effortlessly and looked good covering ground at a brisk rate. Red Romeo looked a patch of his earlier outing and never really raised any hope. Portrush sailed ahead soon on straightening up and sped away from the rest to win in the fastest time ever on the monsoon track, chipping off nearly a second off the timing clocked by Dancing Green in 2003. Portrush stopped the clock at an amazing 1:08.87, which was just 0.04 seconds shy of the record timing on the main track. Pepe Junior ran on to end a good second while Oyster Pearl snatched the third spot from Red Romeo on the post. Portrush is evidently back in top form and will surely be in the reckoning in his future sprints and Pepe Junior too should reap rewards for his consistency sooner than later.

The other highlight of the day was a fine show from jockey Neeraj Rawal. The boy is growing in confidence and is riding as good as anyone is on the circuit presently. His first victory came in the second race, which was well earned and one must hand it out to Neeraj for contributing to the success of El Bunduq in no small measure.

Wild Torronaado had stolen a march in the straight and was ahead by around three lengths. Fiery Fox gave up early in the straight; at the distance post Wild Torronaado gave every indication of pulling it off as all including El Bunduq (Major Impact – Image Conscious) were all out. It was about 100 m from the winning post that El Bunduq made a final charge that was good enough to speed past Wild Torronaado. Neeraj had to goad El Bunduq all the way to keep him focused and in the final furlong got the gelding to work up a fine rhythm and bolt ahead when it mattered most. Walking Tall ended a good third and a furlong more is what he would relish. Princess Ruby, who ended fourth, caught my eye. She was a bit slow at the start and after tailing the field all the way to the straight, she compounded her problems by going wide at the turn. She was the widest one and ran on well to get past five horses to catch a place in the judges frame. A notable effort indeed, under the circumstances.

The Mac Bruce Plate for maiden 3-year-olds looked open and even the bookie ring endorsed that fact. Hunter Bay tried to pull off an end-to-end victory and nearly succeeded. He darted into the lead soon on start with Titan and Bright Future stalking him all the way. Into the straight, Hunter Bay kept on and easily warded off Titan. At the distance post, Bright Future came alongside and Neeraj forged ahead without much resistance to post a comfortable victory. Rio Del Ray ended a decent third and is bound to improve.

Critical Acclaim (Alnasr Alwakseek – Champagne Polka) was perhaps the most well-judged race in the day Neeraj rode to land the spoils. Sitting well off the pace, Neeraj made gradual progress without spending much from Critical Acclaim and stayed away form the traffic congestion while entering the straight.

Cameo (Major Impact – Lovely Fantasy) was ridden well by jockey S Sunil to win the Dr SR Captain Trophy with the dangerous M Narredu lurking around all the while. Both Cameo and Star Impact settled close behind the leader Elementto Angel. Into the straight, Cameo made most of the fortunate opening he got and surged ahead. Star Impact made his bid from the outside and the last 300 m saw a fierce battle between the two. The 9 kilo advantage that Cameo enjoyed tilted the scales in Cameo’s favour and Star Impact lost out narrowly.

Sparrow Hawk escorted the field home and gave in soon after. Highland Quest barely experienced the joy of being in the lead when Critical Acclaim stormed on the scene. Neeraj opted to only gather the filly and push her strongly to get past Highland Quest. He just gave her a couple of cracks and that was enough to ensure that Saddlers Rule would not snatch way any last minute surprise. Neeraj ensured that at least one firm favourite obliged in the day. Saddlers Rule though finishing the fastest fell short but indicated that he is getting into good form and needs watching over the trip or more in the near future.

Lesser-fancied Johnny Bravo’s upset victory rubbed off through the day and Critical Acclaim was the sole earner for the followers of favourites. The start of the day was ominous as favourite Last Nights Sonnet failed to capitalize on a good start and a handy homestretch lead. As they straightened for home, Last Nights Sonnet was in command and when Johnny Bravo turned on the heat, even jockey Rajendra’s strong pushing could not get the filly to march on. Johnny Bravo had little difficulty in easing into the lead and then held on well from a late finishing Strike It Rich. Beacon Light had all the chances to make a race of it but failed to quicken. Watch out for Strike it Rich the next time out.

The last race saw another long shot Forces of Law (Mr Mellon – Brair Creek) cause another upset. Duke of Windsor took over from Marine Zone early in the straight, but was soon pressed by Forces of Law. Highland Glory was there but watched helplessly as even Oh So Romantic passed him to take a crack at the prime spot. Forces of Law held on narrowly to deny Oh So Romantic a last stride victory.

Besides a fine treble from Neeraj Rawal, trainer Faisal Abbas was the lone trainer to saddle a double.