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Bookies claw their way back as Touch Wood, Fashionable shock punters

By Usman Rangila | 20 Sep 2003 | PUNE

Touch Wood (V Jodha up) winner of The Brave Prince Plate being led in by trainer & owner Magansingh.P.Jodha (Extreme left)

Though the scoreboard read ‘Even-Stevens’ at the end of the day’s proceedings, the victories of Touch Wood and Fashionable in their respective events allowed the bookmakers to claw their way back into business on Saturday.
The chestnut three-year-old filly Rapidash flagged off the day with her third career victory from as many starts in the hands of P. Kamlesh. The daughter of Greensmith out of Starstruck Actress was expected to win authoritatively after being backed to the exclusion of her six rivals but only managed to win in a manner which was far from convincing. This resident of Cooji Katrak’s barns, however, has much scope for improvement after this exposure. 
Barring one occasion when he ran third to Premier Collection, the RWITC handicapper gave Great Alliance a 1kg drop in the scales consistently since February this year till he last ran at Pune. Having shed 13kg during this weight-reducing mission and then showing some ‘zest’ for the game in the race won by Dazzling Queen, it was taken for granted that the six-year-old gelding was ready to strike. It is often said that expect the unexpected in horse racing. This is probably why things don’t turn out the way racing mugs expect them to. Great Alliance, who is owned and trained by Cooji Katrak, proved this correct one more time. 
The chestnut had galloped and spurted in the company of Radical Force for three consecutive days last week which made him share favouritism with Boldwin. The burden of the betting or rather the lack of it had a disastrous effect on Great Alliance’s performance. He struggled throughout the mile journey and was reported to have bled. Meanwhile rank outsider Touch Wood made all the running and even staved off the spirited challenge thrown by Smart Warrior in the closing stages. Apprentice Vikram Jodha rode with rare grit and determination to foil the attempts of his successful batch-mate R K Mahesh to topple him and was rewarded with his first career success.
The relentless urgings of Malcolm Kharadi astride Jodhpur Lad saw the aged gelding provide his master Asad Siddiqui the first winner of this season. Jodhpur Lad waged a grim battle in turns with Begonia and Momentous Mover and eventually lasted out to win from the latter. Favourite Sudden Glory never seemed to be in the hunt when finishing a poor fourth with second favourite Colour of Joy too putting up a pathetic show.
The rethink done by trainer Magansingh Jodha on his decision to discontinue the use of blinkers on Fashionable after she won at Mumbai produced positive results. The filly sired by No Louder and who is out of Fashion Graduate ran third when she sported blinkers for the first time this season and even reversed the handicap on favourite Saint Emilion on this occasion. Entrusted to young Aadesh Kumar, who has just returned home after a “refreshing” stint in Ireland by courtesy of owner Shyam Ruia, Fashionable made steady progress at each furlong of the derby distance and inflicted a humiliating defeat on the fancied duo of Frequent Flyer and Saint Emilion.
After Saint Emilion and Frequent Flyer it was the turn of another fancied pair to play truant. Hormuz Antia-nurtured Lady Carmel, though without any current form to back her claims, got equal support in the betting ring along with Rising Passion. The former did no favour to Rising Passion with a bump which threw her out of gear halfway through the journey. Rich Treat seemed to be on course of earning some part of her corn bill when Satish Nayak used his whalebone effectively on Get Fresh and drove the Narendra Lagad trainee to his maiden victory.
The punters were surely not delighted when Magansingh Jodha led in Touch Wood and Fashionable which they were after Kojagiri produced another scintillating run in the Cordon Bleu Trophy. The effort of this Portroe progeny was not very different from her last essay and she was homeward bound once she assumed command from Avantage and Palentino at the final corner. Discman came with a long stretched run to take the runner-up position ahead of The Complete Man. The victory of Glensanda at the close of the day allowed a majority of punters to go home with smiling faces. On the other hand, the followers of Compassionate were left sulking and just could not get over the fact that jockey Pradeep Chouhan sat far behind in the initial stages of the race. Malesh Narredu aboard Glensanda, who is bred as half-sister to Royal Gladiator and in charge of trainer Vinayak, decided to set his own pace and made every post of the mile trip a winning one. Debutant Super Strike chased the winner all the way home and finished second despite failing to raise a fluent gallop. Compassionate woke up to her task rather late and her finishing effort may’ve been eye-catching for some but rubbed salt into the wounds of many.