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Thanda Leaves the Field ‘Cold’

By Mahendra Mallya | 15 Aug 2009 | PUNE

Thanda (M Narredu up), winner of The PRA Independence Trophy

The Pune racecourse looked a pretty sight with the Independence Day crowd showing up in good numbers despite the Swine Flu scare. Race goers in western India are passionate about their racing and this fact was underscored yet again.

Thanda (Ontario – Moonspell) warmed up right on time and put in a sensational final run to pull off an astounding victory in the PRA Independence Trophy, the feature of the day. The Giant leapt into the lead, galloped on gamely, and kept going with surprising ease. He built up a sizable lead coming round the turn. Only Barbara was in the vicinity at the distance post. Malesh maneuvered Thanda between horses and once the Dhunjibhoy filly wriggled free, she covered ground under some hard riding from Malesh. Thanda first got past Barbara but The Giant was still some distance ahead. Thanda gave it all in the final few meters and bounded towards the winning post collaring The Giant just a couple of strides from the wire.

Forbes List (Royal Kingdom – Housewarming) was another of Malesh’s rides where the jockey contributed decisively to the victory. As the gates flung open, Vijayi Bhava whipped around and took no part in the race. The Brave Heart led a close huddled group with every horse well in touch with the other all through to the straight, Slickkit at the tail end. Ares broke away nearing the turn and stretched away effortlessly to establish a sizable lead which could have been mistaken for a winning lead at that stage. Got To Go clambered to chase the leader. Sierra Vista got mixed up in a bad traffic jam and lost position never to come back. Forbes List weaved his way from the rails to be prominent at the turn but still had to cover considerable ground to make a race of it. He did just that! With 200 to go, Ares looked comfortably ahead. Forbes List, however, came with a terrific burst in the final furlong and just managed to get past Ares in a stunning finish.

Phosphor (Trans Island – Inventive) posted a clinical victory to claim the Sub-Area Commander Trophy. Striding alongside Red Chili in the front, Phosphor readily took charge early in the straight and once in command, never gave a semblance of chance to anyone in the field. Check Her Out could not even make an impact and ran a tame second. Zen ended a decent third. Trainer Imtiaz Sait has done well in getting Phosphor fighting fit and in current form, Phosphor can trouble her rivals in the higher class as well.

In the earlier race, another Imtiaz trainee Beyond Belief (Warrshan – Leit Motif) landed the Highland Rule Trophy in an impressive start to finish manner. The six-year-old gelding was taking on some speedy younger horses. Beyond Belief hit the front soon on start and led a closely huddled bunch. Spitz & Agha kept the leader from going to far, but only until the turn. Once into the straight, Beyond Belief was still on a tight rein, confidently ridden by apprentice DS Rathore, who only niggled the gelding well into the homestretch. Beyond Belief responded well to the hands and heels workout and stretched out well. Ikaria, meanwhile, came from the mid-bunch and tried his best to catch up, but Beyond Belief was beyond reach. Ming ran a good third.

Our Fortune (Alnasr Alwasheek – Star Fortune) romped home for another facile victory showing good speed and maturity while tackling the second in demand Captain Smart. Captain Smart led the field homeward and never for a moment did Our Fortune let the leader go too far ahead. Baskerville Romp Home and Crème De La Crème came in next as they straightened for home. Our Fortune got into top gear nearing the distance post and marched ahead past it to run clear of any threat. In fact, there was none, Captain Smart had surrendered and Crème De La Crème only looked good for the place money.

Morpheus (Metal Precieux – Crepe De Chine) carried a lot of public money to the most facile victory of the day. Leading the field after Up North refused to jump out of the gates; Morpheus kept increasing the margin and entered the homestretch with a huge lead almost impossible for the others to catch up. Joelton stayed put for the runner up berth while Elementto Trance moved up a couple of places to grab the third.

Royal Bella (Royal Kingdom – Donatella) caused a flutter when she put in a strong run in the straight to shock the favorite Flying Spirit, who was further relegated to third from a spirited On My Way. Yowza made the running and led the field homewards, but surrendered soon on straightening up. Flying Spirit, thus got the lead by default and couldn’t quicken to capitalize. Royal Bella easily collared the favorite and surged ahead. On My Way moved purposefully in the final furlong and just fell short of nailing Royal Bella.

Another shocker was in store in the last race when Fish Pilot (Brave Hunter – Love’s A Mirage) found his feet to stun the opposition. While Dangerous Belle and Real Dream caught the public fancy, Fish Pilot was friendless in the ring. Sitting a close fourth behind Black Partridge, Dangerous Belle and Real Dream. Fish Pilot was looking for room as they entered the straight. Real Dream took a while to shake off Black Partridge, but no sooner than he did so, Fish Pilot came like a bolt from the blue to peg back Real Dream just at the post. Real Dream has been unlucky twice this season, but has not been disgraced in defeat on both occasions. Third time lucky, maybe?

For the professionals, trainer Imtiaz A Sait and jockey Malesh Narredu scored a double each.