Fantastic Quest Nails Alekona On The Post
After a real long time, racegoers at Bangalore were treated to an exceptional performance by a top class horse in The Hyderabad Silver Vase, the feature event in a nine event card framed for the day's racing at this centre. Alekona put up a stout-hearted show, and while doing so, won the hearts of all those who were lucky to be present at The Bangalore Turf Club on Saturday. He was pitched into this mile handicap with a heavy impost of 68 Kgs. He had performed brilliantly over the last twelve months, and matched strides with the best horses in the country. The connections were quite aware that this big made horse needs a strong rider to guide his fortunes. They decided against using an apprentice to reduce the load on his back, and entrusted him to Samuel Fargeat. Alekona was trying to emulate the performances of past champions like Red Chieftain, Turkish Light and Oncidium, who had all carried such back breaking weights to victory. He was ignored in the betting rings and was easily backable at 10/1. The race had an open look about it. Fantastic Quest was a marginal favourite at 3/1 ,and was closely followed by Mother's Pride, Dancing Highness, Rio Bravo and Jet Fire. Fantastic Quest was the only three year old in a field of twelve acceptors. He was expected to run prominently in The Bangalore 2000 Guineas , but had fared miserably. Trainer Ganapathy had decided to change his equipment by using a tongue strap on him. He was looking a lot trimmer in the paddock and had a nice coat on him. Rio Bravo and Mother's Pride had finished close to each other in a similar event some time back, and were quietly fancied by their respective camps. The race was run at nice fast pace with Jet Fire taking off like a scalded cat and opening up a fair gap ahead of a bunch of no-hopers. The fancied group comprising of Fantastic Quest, Mothers Pride and Rio Bravo were running off the pace, and seen gracing the rear end of the field. Alekona was in mid division and jockey Samuel Fargeat decided to stay there as the race progressed. The race took a serious turn as the runners straightened for home. The Royal Blue colours of Alekona were seen shooting through the pack. There was a huge roar from the stands as the top weight began to increase his lead, and with Fargeat making free use of the whalebone, the duo seemed to be headed for victory. With less than 200 metres still to travel, Prakash produced Fantastic Quest on the centre of the track and began to close the gap on the leader. In a pulse pounding finish, the two horses raced abreast till the very last stride before Fantastic Quest put his head in front.It was the handicap advantage of fifteen kilos that finally made a huge difference. Both Prakash and Samuel Fargeat were given a standing ovation by the large crowd present at the race course. Alekona had lost the race but won the hearts of the lovers of this sport. It was a finish that will be spoken about and remembered for a long time. Fantastic Quest seems to be back in business, and should be a strong contender in the Winter Derby that is likely to be held in early February. Mother's Pride and Rio Bravo filled the rest of the frame. It was nice to see the smiles back on the faces of the Ganapathy-Prakash camp. The two of them have dominated the winter season at Bangalore for many years , and their supporters expect them to keep performing. The pair would normally tear away from their colleagues in the professional tallies at this stage of the season. It had not happened so far in this particular period. Saturday saw them emerge from the crowd as they combined effectively to complete a treble. Apart from Fantastic Quest, they won two other races with Bourbon Bay and Ready To Mingle. Queen's Collection and Forever Mark were two other favourites from the same stable, that were beaten into second place in their respective races. The two year old Bourbon Bay had found one better in both his career starts earlier in the season. He was opposed today by the fashionably bred Gypsy Magic ( Placerville-Stunning). This filly from the Padmanabhan stable was backed down to odds-on favouritism. The only thing against her was the lack of a run , and that seemed to be reflected in the final outcome of this race. Bourbon Bay went ahead in the early stages of the race, and remained unchallenged till the very end. Dream Park showed some urgency while running into second place. Gypsy Magic was a bit slow at the gates and ran green thereafter. She showed some intent till the distance post before lugging-in under pressure. David Allan had to bring her back on the outside ,before she lengthened her strides.Gypsy Magic finished a close third. She seems to be more suited over a longer trip, and will be hugely benefitted by today's experience. Ready to Mingle was the third leg of the treble. Prakash rode a copybook race on this long priced horse while showing him daylight near the bend, and skipping away from his rivals. The recently gelded Festino came from nowhere to finish an impressive second. The upper division of this race saw Arjun Mangalorkar's Sarmaidar getting the better of Forever Mark. The latter was backed with confidence but the difference in weights was a huge factor in the final outcome. Despite Prakash's best efforts, Forever Mark was unable to concede nine kilos to the winner. The rest of the runners were out of depth in this race, and may need a lot of time to enter the winner's enclosure. The day's proceedings started with a maidens event, and a rare double objection by the third placed horse against the first two. David Allan on Rule Of Attraction had made all the running and won this race by a whisker from the favourite Queen's Collection. Chris Hayes on Cayenne tried to make his run between the two leaders , but found the gap closing in the last furlong. He had to check his mount, and bring the small made filly on the outside. She galloped resolutely thereafter and finished a close third. He objected on the grounds of interference, but the objection lacked merit. It was pretty obvious that had he pulled her out a little earlier in the straight, we may have witnessed a different result on the boards. Cayenne should be followed in her next start. The other noteworthy performance during the afternoon came from Desert Rule.This well bred three year old showed tremendous improvement while decimating the opposition in a mile event for horses in class III. This Byramji trainee made his own pace and skipped away from Spark Of Gold and Star Speed. The last named had run impressively in his last start, and based on that effort, was supported with confidence in this race. He was in no mood to gallop today, and despite the best efforts of his jockey, ran in patches.He finally picked up a bunch of tired horses to occupy the third slot. Excellent Ability and Bee The Star were the other winners in the day's card. Excellent Ability won by a street in the lowest class and is capable of repeating on promotion. This was Saleem Golam's second winner in India. Vinod Shinde rode a nice race on the speedy Bee The Star, when he made use of her early pace and took her to the front. It was smooth sailing thereafter as none of her opponents were able to come close to her.Smart N Special and Double Emerge were able to save place money.