Samar Singh, who went through a torrid time during his transition from being a jockey to a trainer, has slowly but surely found his foot. He recorded a creditable double through Daring Don and Summer Storm and the win of the former in the Dariya Daulat Trophy, the feature event of Friday’s races, was indeed commendable because the win came about in a field which comprised younger horses, with better credentials.
Daring Don who was re-located from Mumbai, hadn’t won for nearly two years and the win here against stiff opposition would have done a world of good to the confidence of the trainer because he was well fancied. Contrary to expectations, it was two six-year olds, which fought out a grim battle, with Daring Don resolutely holding on to the advantage over Refresher. Favourite River God cut an erratic course and was never in the hunt while Prince Valiant put up a below par performance. Conqueress, who was expected to exploit the pull in weights, was a spent force by the time the race took a serious turn.
River God and Conqueress were more fancied than the rest. Conqueress hit the front from the word `go’ but could not sustain the effort in the homestretch. Daring Don who was handily placed, took charge and went ahead and established a sizeable lead in the final furlong. Refresher came up with a strong bid but fell short by half a length. Conqueress managed to keep the third slot ahead of Just Brave.
Jockey Ronen Thomas who was astride River God, raced the favourite in the rear position as the son of Razeen gallops well when ridden in restraint but found himself in all sorts of problems. He switched River God from outside to inside but found no galloping ground and again shifted out but he was left with a hopeless task. The Stewards slapped a fine of Rs 10,000 for riding an ill-judged race. The penalty was unduly harsh because such happenings are dime-a-dozen and it does not call for such a penalty because they have set a precedent, which they themselves will find difficult to follow consistently. Ill-judged is a word that can often be associated with the decisions of the powers-that-be!
Apprentice Jagadeesh who has blossomed under the care of Samar Singh, had a double for the day as apart from the tidy job he did on Daring Don, he had it easy on Summer Storm was a runaway winner of the Antaraganage Plate, run over nine furlongs. After racing in a handy third position as Agnivarsh set a hot pace, Summer Storm shot into the lead inside the final 400 metres and went away for a facile win. Agnivarsh just about managed to stave off favourite The Soothsayer for the second slot. The Soothsayer let down his supporters for the second time running and his trainer Darashah is finding winners hard to come by this season.
Two good types of juveniles were seen in action in the December Plate, a sprint race for maiden two-year olds. The Kunigal bred Crown Secret who is by first season stallion Burden of Proof, showed plenty of speed, and established a decisive lead over second favourite Blurr and won in impressive fashion. Jockey Malesh Narredu failed to get a favourable position early on and though Blurr finshed on strongly, the Glory of Dancer filly could only bridge the gap.
The Kumarajah M A M Muthiah Trophy was run in two divisions and the division one of the race saw Outsmart living up to his name while managing to pick up momentum in the nick of time to edge out Maurya and It’s So Wonderful. There was a cavalry charge at the finish but apprentice Shabuddin was equal to the task in getting Outsmart to put his neck ahead of Maruya who has been running consistently but finding the winning post elusive. There was a big touch on M P Mahaesh trained Gem in the lower division despite the fact that Nasir Imam was declared to ride. Gem led all the way except when it mattered the most, surrendering the initiative in the shadow of the post to rank outsider She’s A Bird who had apprentice Vijay Kumar on board. Indeed, it was day of the apprentices, with five of the day’s seven races, being claimed by them.
Inscription shaped like a winner in the Honnavar Plate but buckled close home to unfancied Regal Haven to prevent a virtual sweep by apprentices. Sworn Silence has finally broken silence. He is no good and for the third time, he let down his supporters, with a tame performance. Padmanabhan trained Rivolitta proved too speedy for her opponents in the Master Key Plate, providing apprentice Ashwin Rao an armchair ride to victory.