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Bookies run for cover as moneybags go on a rampage

By Usman Rangila | 23 Aug 2003 | PUNE

Noble Appeal (B Prakash up), winner of The Star Prince Plate being led by trainer Jilla

Like every sport around the world, money has been the driving force behind horse racing. Given the economic dynamics involved right from the day when a yearling is bought till the day when it makes its debut, the gradual metamorphosis of this noble game from a passionate sport to a game of skill (read gambling) does not come as a surprise.
The stakes are literally high for everybody involved in this sport. Small wonder then if fraud and malpractice have become a regular aspect. An aspect that offers no options to the race-goers, save for accepting it. Hopes of survival of this sport continue to flicker nonetheless. One such ray of hope managed to pierce through the dark clouds of gloom.
The euphoria surrounding the victory of the eight favourites may’ve obscured the ardour that contributed to the success of Noble Appeal, Donegal Bay, Kintyre, Star Wish and Running Regal but only just. The joy and emotions that filled the faces of Rehanullah Khan, Faisal Abbas, Shiraz Sunderji and Nina Lalwani were worth its weight in gold. Even Dallas Todywalla, who is serving a one-month suspension and was unable to lead Noble Appeal, would’ve been overjoyed at the news of his ward’s triumph. Sadly though only a handful of people could sense the waves of emotions that swept through the minds of these professionals. 
Passion n’ patience was indeed the name of the game for all these trainers. Each one of them had shown determination that was unparalleled in the context of the task on their hands. Noble Appeal had missed the entire Mumbai season 2002-2003, but Dallas had him back on track and his winning ways too. The son of Razeen out of Soccia obliged in a mediocre field of six runners.
Donegal Bay’s ability was never in question yet his abnormal behaviour should’ve easily got on Rehanullah Khan’s nerves. Not to give in easily, Rehan tried every trick in the book and finally found the answer in the use of a hood on Donegal Bay. Once Donegal Bay took a level jump, the race was as good as over. Monetary benefits aside, the victory should’ve had the soothing effect on Rehan and the owners of Donegal Bay. 
Dickey-legged Kintyre failed to strike the right chord for his original master Mansingh Jadhav, who did persevere with him only to lose patience at the end of the last Mumbai season. Young Faisal Abbas picked up the gauntlet and the son of Alnasr Alwasheek was spot-on in only his second start in the new colours. Kintyre went wire to wire and won warding off the threat posed by Akiydath.
Star Wish had given a hint of his recovery when he ran second behind Gesundheit on his first appearance after a long gap of 17 months. He retraced his steps back to the winner’s enclosure by turning the tables on his conqueror. The candidate from Shiraz Sunderji’s yard chased Tasmac into the home stretch and had a firm grip on the race after taking charge of the running. Shiraz was full of praise for all the patience shown by his patrons, the Mistrys’ of Shapoorji Pallonji fame.
The last professional to taste the sweet nectar of success was Nina Lalwani. The lady trainer toiled hard during the summer and got able support from hubby Mohit in reshaping the future of Running Regal. A lot of midnight oil was burnt by this duo and the end result was there for all to see. Running Regal ran with a left eye-shield, which curbed his wayward ways to a certain extent and helped him achieve some well-deserved glory. It must be recalled that the RWITC stipes had suggested a ban on the participation of Running Regal in racing and it took a lot of persuasion from Mohit and Nina to convince the Stewards to give Running Regal another opportunity to mend his ways. Mend his ways he did but, ironically, Malesh Narredu, who partnered Running Regal during his last infamous run at Mumbai, ended up on the losing side once again. Malesh partnered Sunlord, who shared favouritism with Running Regal but ran without causing much trouble to any of the contenders. Shiraz attributed this lacklustre show to the underfoot conditions and was full of optimism in asserting that Sunlord should not be written off in a hurry.
In between, Kimberley Star spoiled the party of favourite Native Son after jockey P. Kamlesh rode a well-judged race astride the Altaf Hussain-saddled debutant. Cooji Katrak-schooled Strike Zone had served ample notice of an imminent victory when running fourth behind Southern Smoke. The half-sister to Victory March won without raising a sweat. Heroism added to the misery of the bookies in the concluding race but not before receiving a minor scare from Dare To Dream. The rest preferred to be mere passengers.