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Team effort plays a vital role in Southern Smoke's victory in August Handicap

By Usman Rangila | 02 Aug 2003 | PUNE

Tuned to the minute by veteran professional Bezan Chenoy, Southern Smoke gave a dazzling display on the Pune turf to win the August Handicap in his very first appearance this season. It was a great team effort that came into play in this successful venture of the grey son of Metal Precieux out of Sarmatara. Jockey Bajrang Singh, on his part, was indeed a compliment in the saddle and showed remarkable confidence in steering Southern Smoke to an emphatic victory.
Chenoy’s other candidate Ponte Romano set the early pace for his stable partner whilst Southern Smoke lay beautifully poised in fourth position behind Great Strides and Sixty Seconds. Bajrang timed his challenge to perfection and seized the initiative before Pesi could set Sixty Seconds alight. The grey three-year-old blasted off to overtake Sixty Seconds and Great Strides, who was already staging his exit, and the race was well and truly sewn up at that juncture itself. Pesi could not elicit any favourable response from the Arti Doctor ward and he too disappeared from the scene. It was then left to Dazzling Queen to lead the challenge but the filly saddled by Imtiaz Sait had to eat a humble pie too. Fantastic Knight came with a long stretched run to snatch the third place from Strike Zone, who was skilfully kept away from the public glare by C. Rajendra. It will surely pay to follow the four horses, which finished at the top.
Supreme Crown and Gesundheit who had both won during their earlier appearances here went on to register an encore. Penalised just 5kg for his previous triumph, Supreme Crown did not encounter any serious opposition when adding another feather to master Dallas Todywalla’s cap. Arrakis’ half-brother easily accounted for Cape Vaticano, who was unfavourably placed in the early phase of the race and his subsequent efforts to collar the winner were non-productive. Identical to the script written by trainer Don Surti for his previous contenders, Montana was seen doing spadework for some future conquest in calling the early shots and then retiring peacefully to end fourth behind Ixora.
Gesundheit was kept close on the heels of Blue Butterfly by jockey Zameer Sayyed as the mare brought the field into view in the straight after which Saeed Shah’s flag-bearer stormed into the lead. Eventually the son of Tirol won untroubled. Star Wish, despite being on the repair list for nearly a year and a half, ran well to finish a faraway but game second and this effort would not have been possible but for Shiraz Sunderji’s patience and unflinching faith in the ability of this Don’t Forget Me off-spring. Cryptonite found his moorings late but his late rally could not deprive Tasmac the minor berth. A seven-furlong trip would be ideally suited for this son of Reasonable while the latter should go one better over a scurry. Some unidentified physical ailment may have prevented The Avenger, who ran a dismal race, from delivering the goods.
After Star Wish it was the turn of Frantic to pay tribute to his schooler Shiraz Sunderji. Frantic achieved this by overcoming his fragile temper during the loading operations at the gates. Lest one forgets his pivotal role in the success of Frantic, jockey Bajrang Singh deserves a mention once again. Stepping quietly into the gates for a change, Frantic chased owner-mate Femme Fatale briefly and then stepped up speed to assume command. Though Amazing Strides was in hot pursuit all the way and later The Polynesian joining the issue, both Frantic and Bajrang were in no mood to capitulate. The close verdict might flatter runner-up Amazing Strides but it should be borne in mind that he was in receipt of 9.5kg from Frantic. The Polynesian, on the other hand, warmed up late to his task yet finished a close third which should be a pointer towards a rewarding future.
Senor Tango provided Nina Lalwani her first winner this season when justifying the faith imposed in him by the students of form. Likewise, the Placerville-filly Raptures made short work of front-runner Royal Charmer in the final run-in, which enabled trainer Imtiaz Sait to open his current account. With his main adversaries hardly interested in any serious combat, Yannis’ easy triumph did not come as a surprise for many.