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Kia Ora stuns star-studded field on maiden visit to Pune

By Usman Rangila | 24 Aug 2003 | PUNE

Kia Ora (S Rajesh up) winner of the Turf Club Trophy (Grade II) being led in by trainer S.Padmanabhan and owner Mr. & Mrs. K.N.Bhunjbhoy

The four-year-old bay filly Kia Ora caused a major upset by toppling a star-studded field of thirteen in the Turf Club Trophy (Grade 2) here on Sunday. In no way did the recent Bangalore form of Kia Ora indicate that the filly would defeat the local challengers but she did have a fighting chance, a fact missed by many students of form. The market forces did not give her a ghost of chance yet they were not to be blamed entirely for harbouring such negative sentiments. The sheer presence of Noble Eagle, Free Radical and Shamaal in the contest made them lose sight of the purple patch struck by Kia Ora during the recent summer racing season down south. 
Nearly all the other runners except Shamaal were done in by the pace set by rank outsider Ungaro. Shamaal compounded their misery by storming into the lead after the field straightened for the final run-in. With less than a furlong left for the ultimate destination, Shamaal eventually lost steam and Kia Ora, who was always racing in the vanguard, produced a sparkling run when alerted to her task by jockey S. Rajesh. Shamaal succumbed far too easily to the onslaught unleashed by the filly brought in-foal to Free Thinker and who is trained by the Bangalore-based professional S. Padmanabhan. The mile trip seemed to be beyond her compass and this defeat of Shamaal should inspire a change in Sanjay Kolse’s strategy. Like every other owner, the Khushroo Dhunjibhoy camp was surely expecting a decent performance from Kia Ora. By winning the terms event, Kia Ora not only surprised Padmanabhan but also her owners and the expressions of exclamation were manifest alongside the broad smile beaming on their face during the victory parade.
Kia Ora was the first to offer respite to the financially-mauled bookies which was later extended by Raptures’ triumph. Yet, the bookmakers’ ledgers were smeared red by the marauding punters. Tio Pepe hit the first home run when making every post to the five-furlong scurry a winning one in the hands of Ikram Khan, the younger sibling of trainer Rehanullah Khan. High Voltage was content playing second fiddle while Speedster ran a dismal fourth to prove that the enthusiasm shown by the vast section of punters was undeserved.
Makramah was not sighted close home at first when Litolier Glamour, Ponte Romano and Mesopotamia were busy sorting out the issue among themselves. But the Placerville offspring came out of nowhere to land the spoils and also the first among three winners saddled by Imtiaz Sait. Interestingly, the other two winners of Imtiaz also happened to be sired by Placerville. Ponte Romano was not disgraced in this defeat and lives to fight for yet another day. Rise from Hormuz Antia’s string ended sixth but should be ready for some serious action shortly.
Imtiaz was soon leading his second winner of the day when So Shocking sailed away for an emphatic victory after Frenchman David Badel received the baton from no-hoper Emotional Queen, who brought the field into the home straight. River Master ran on take the second place ahead of Altius and Aerosmith, who took some stick from their riders. Well Versed was another horse saddled by Antia during the day who despite finishing fifth did enough to serve notice of his future conquests. 
Last-outing winner Raptures showed tremendous improvement to achieve an encore. The fancied duo of Keytothevaults and Ladybank was clearly outpaced once P. Kamlesh put Raptures into top gear. Queen Ernest, the piping-hot favourite of the day, duly obliged under the unruffled guidance of C. Rajendra. Karumba, who was in receipt of 11kg from Queen Ernest, tried to collar the winner who was home and dry before any damage could be done by the second favourite. 
Wikhed Idea ended the long vigil of her master Subhag Singh as she finally came into her own and literally trounced the opposition in the concluding race of the day. The explosive speed packed in the Metal Precieux filly reduced her rivals to tatters. Wikhed Idea should win again provided the handicapper does not come down heavily on her after this runaway victory.