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Team-Artois’ hard work pays off, rewarded with Pune Derby

By Usman Rangila | 12 Oct 2003 | PUNE

Artois (M Narredu up) winner of The Nanoli Stud Pune Derby (Grade I) being led by owners Mr. & Mrs. K.N. Dhunjibhoy & trainer Vinayak

Was Artois suffering from a tendon problem? What if the problem surfaces during the race? Will this half-brother to Zurburan live up to the expectations of his connections? These were just three of the many questions being asked prior to the running of the Nanoli Stud sponsored Pune Derby 2003. The answer came running in solitary splendour after Malesh Narredu pushed Artois to take charge from owner cum stable-mate Glensanda at the final turn. Simply speaking, it was a classic statement from a truly classic horse.
There has never been any substitute for hard work and Team-Artois highlighted this fact one more time. Trainer Vinayak spearheaded the task of maintaining the fitness levels of Artois, who carried a slight tendon injury. He has saddled a triple-crown winner earlier in his career and Vinayak knows what it takes to look after a champion. The entire Dhunjibhoy camp rallied around him to see that nothing is left to chance. The Derby preparation of Artois comprised of regular visits to the swimming pool, trotting on the reverse track and two mock-races. There was plenty of cynicism prevailing in the racing circles but Vinayak was unruffled by all this news and was absolutely confident about winning the Pune Derby for the third time. Malesh even predicted that the verdict would not be less than five-lengths in favour of Artois. The optimism of both Vinayak and Malesh was vindicated by Artois.
Glensanda, in accordance with the Derby-script written by the Dhunjibhoy-camp, set a good pace with his barn-mate settled in the mid-bunch. As the field of eleven turned for home, apprentice Abhishek Habbu astride Glensanda left sufficient room on the rails for Artois, who had a trouble-free journey till then, to make his move. The chestnut son of Storm Trooper made no fuss when the opportunity presented itself and was literally cruising home. Malesh used his whip to give just a tap or two to Artois and then was waving it in the air to express his joy of having won this event for a record fifth time. Sprungli had the credit of taking the runner-up berth ahead of Royal Affinity and Simply Supreme. The rest were simply outclassed. Southern Smoke blew up after being prominent till the bend while King of Hearts ran a disappointing sixth behind the pacemaker Glensanda.
Artois may’ve overcome his tendon problems but his stable-partner Azzuro failed to do so in the Jimmy Umrigar Trophy. Roofer (Broto-Ming Delight), who lost by a short-head to Leopardess earlier, hit the front with young S. Sunil in the saddle and relished it as he kept going to win from Azzuro and River Master. 
Trainer Faisal Abbas and S. Sunil were earlier associated with the stunning victory of Chasing Destiny (Tirol-All This Time) in the lower division of the Pune Police Commissioner’s Trophy. There was flurry of betting coming in for Magansingh Jodha-trained Power Zone, who was ridden by the lesser-known Dilip Singh, but he could not grace the finish like Bird of Paradise did. The late bid made by Shooting Arrow and Star Holme failed to dislodge Chasing Destiny.
Cooji Katrak did not have any Derby contender but he shared the spotlight by winning the other two big events. The three-year-old filly Rapidash (Greensmith-Starstruck Actress) kept her winning record intact when winning the fourth race of her career in Class II. Apart from Rapidash, Cooji had two more runners in the Sir Sultan Chinoy Trophy only to ensure that the race does not go void. A master strategist that he is, Cooji even deployed Tarragona to disturb the rhythm of Free Radical, who performs best when allowed to run freely in the front. Tarragona despite being slow at the start performed her task and took a backseat as Rapidash made rapid progress to overhaul Free Radical. The chestnut filly was driven by P. Kamlesh to an emphatic victory and she will be a strong contender for the 1000 Guineas in the forthcoming Mumbai season.
Rosmini, who underwent a double-knee surgery during the summer, felt his legs when going down to Tide of Fortune in his last appearance. The speedy son of Diffident made ample amends for that failure as he romped home in the N.H. Dhunjibhoy Sprint Championship. Cooji’s candidate was never headed after he stormed into the lead at the start. Tide of Fortune made a bid to catch Rosmini towards the end but was successful in only reducing the margin of victory. Favourite Premier Classe, who was bidding for a hat-trick, was outpaced by the winner and so was Shamaal, which allowed Aerospace to grab the third place.
Ice Magic (Placerville-Frost Queen), the four-year-old filly from Bezan Chenoy’s yards, made a winning comeback to claim the F.A. & K.A. Irani Trophy at the start of the day’s proceedings. The grey filly had created an impression by winning two races right at the start of her career in Mumbai but a leg injury kept her out of competitive racing for more than a year. Entrusted to Pesi Shroff on this occasion, Ice Magic paid tribute to her master’s patience when making every pole of the five-furlong sprint a winning one. 
Pesi rode another winner for Bezan after Enchante (Placerville-Cosmic Energy) decided it was time to put on her galloping shoes. All The Go and Rare Edition, the two fancied horses in this race, made no headway during the race and were seen struggling throughout.
Hidden Rainbow and African Beat fought a pitched battle right from the word go in the upper division of the Pune Police Commissioner’s Trophy in which the former was successful in brushing away his opponent. Fair ‘N’ Square ran third. Both the horses who finished behind the winner should shed the maiden ranks sooner rather than later. Parmeshwari from Arti Doctor’s string maintained her winning form when she took on a superior set of rivals and carved a slender victory over Ballynahinch, who had raised hopes of an imminent victory after taking charge at the turn. Frequent Flyer and Firey Future ran disappointingly.