- india's first & foremost horse racing portal

Estonia avoids mishap, wins SA Poonawalla Million in splendid fashion

By Usman Rangila | 21 Sep 2003 | PUNE

Estonia (M Narredu up) winner of The S.A. Poonawalla Million (Grade II) being led by trainer C.D.Katrak & owner Mr K.N.Dhunjibhoy

It took a couple of years for the RWITC committee to decide drop its rigid stand that the Poonawallas match the club’s contribution of Rs.5 lakh instead of a million-rupee stake money guarantee for the S.A. Poonawalla Trophy. As a result of which the “million” status was re-conferred on this event and the sponsors once again got their act together to lure the crowds back to the racecourse. Their efforts did pay off and a marked increase was witnessed in the day’s attendance. However, the battle royale that was expected to take place between three fillies, Estonia, Highness and Wave of Bliss in this year’s edition of the S.A. Poonawalla Million, failed to materialise as the three-year-old filly Estonia pulled off an easier than expected victory.
It may be recalled that Arti Doctor-trained Wave of Bliss had won the Manjri Stud Breeder’s Juvenile Fillies Championship in a start-to-finish mission when ridden by Samuel Fargeat during the last Mumbai season. Pesi Shroff tried to accomplish a similar feat with the chestnut offspring of Razeen and seized the initiative when the field of eight broke the barriers. These hopes soon faded when Cooji Katrak-saddled Estonia, who had her slice of luck that prevented her from being a victim of a mishap, came with raking strides on the wide outside.
Estonia was racing directly behind So Shocking and Highness till about 50-75m before the former brushed against the rails, stumbled and then dislodged her saddle partner David Badel. Estonia swerved to the left and Malesh Narredu managed to stay out of harms way. The daughter of Alnasr Alwasheek out of Chloe’s Delight came wide into the straight and had the race well sewn up long before the winning post arrived. Highness had to settle with the second berth while Orion toiled hard to finish third ahead of Pitlochry. 
There appeared to be something terribly wrong with Wave of Bliss as Pesi was seen easing up his mount about a furlong away from home. Surprisingly, the race-day report of the stewards fails to shed any light on this issue. The filly has obviously returned sound else a contrary finding would’ve been reported by the official vet. There were some angry scenes witnessed on David Badel’s return to the weighing-room. Having escaped serious injuries, the furious Frenchman was quickly up on his feet and itching for a showdown with the RWITC authorities and his alleged tormenter C. Rajendra. The stewards viewed the incident as accidental and refused to oblige Badel, who wanted Rajendra to be punished. Long after the racegoers had made their way back home and the sun had disappeared from the horizon, the visiting jockey was still seeing red.
The whipless apprentice Neeraj Rawal did himself proud by recording a back-to-back double right at the start of the day. What made the feat of this young lad more commendable was the fact that he secured both his victories through a neck verdict. In the first instance Neeraj drove the Rehanullah Khan-saddled favourite Extraordinary, who had stumbled earlier, to collar the leaders and held on valiantly from Dillinger. Later, he fought a pitched battle with Liquid Gold and Thunderball close home and emerged triumphant aboard the Irene Patel trainee Free Gold.
T. Atul, probably inspired by the success of his batch-mates, rode a splendid race astride Never Surrender and snatched victory from Soviet Fire. Hormuz Antia pulled off a smart gamble with Never Surrender at the cost of veteran Janardhan’s Soviet Fire. Akiydath suffered interference at the start itself yet made remarkable ground to finish in close attendance of the winner and runner-up.
Romantic Heights from Altaf Hussain’s string had no difficulty in tackling the Class I opposition on promotion and achieved an encore readily. The filly did not get a smooth start and fell back to the rear but came with a scintillating run after P. Kamlesh gradually powered his way through to join the leaders. Both Al Humair and Star Wish were no match for their younger rival. Shiraz Sunderji’s ward Samurai Sword also showed brilliant form to emulate Romantic Heights. The daughter of Young Senor was set alight by Malesh Narredu at the top of the straight and she mowed down favourite Strike Zone on her way to victory.
Anmol added another feather to her master Imtiaz Sait’s cap by recording a hat-trick this season. Bajrang Singh decided to adopt runaway tactics on this occasion and just about managed scrape through from the clutches of Splendid, who was making her first appearance this season. Splendid, who is now trained by Asad Ali (son of deceased trainer Raza Ali), was turned out in immaculate condition for this encounter but found Anmol a hard nut to crack. Special One also looked threatening at one stage but the last-outing winner failed to accelerate and finished third.