Impressive Victory for Upper Crust
Padmanabhan-trained Upper Crust was the impressive winner of The Krishnaraja Trophy, the feature event in Friday’s small card of six races at Bangalore. She looked a picture in the paddock and on sheer looks stood tall amongst the seven runners slated to face the starter. Irfan Ghatala's Sugar Blaze had the scales in her favour compared to the rest, and was accorded the pride of place in the betting ring. It did not take long for the bookmakers to increase the odds against Sugar Blaze from 5/4 to 7/2, and the sensible punters immediately took a cue and started backing Diamond Hunter and Upper Crust. It is peculiar but strangely true that horses from Irfan's stable fire only when there is loads of money on them, and never when the odds against them start to drift. How the bookmakers come to know in advance remains a mystery. Diamond Hunter finally started as the public choice in the race, but he too did not inspire confidence as he was not looking as well as he did in his previous appearance on the track. The race itself saw Mercurial and Laguna Blue hitting the front with Diamond Hunter, Sugar Blaze and Upper Crust following in close order. Just as they were taking the turn, Ranjeet Singh found the pace a bit slow and pushed Upper Crust to the front. They were briefly challenged by the hard-ridden Mercurial, but sailed away to an easy victory. Stylish Bay was loafing at the rear end of the field and started to gallop only in the last 50 metres to finish by the side of Mercurial and take the third place ahead of Sugar Blaze. Stylish Bay may be earmarked for an early victory. The added attraction in the day’s card was The Jog Cup. This race over 2,000 metres saw Arabian Knight being installed as a piping hot favourite with the other runners available at 7's and over. This gelding was a respectable fifth in the 2000 Guineas and was running with horses who were thought to be no match for him. Jockey O'Donoghue riding Ganapathy-trained South Star had other ideas, and rode an extremely stylish race to hold Arabian Knight by a neck. Jockey Hayes rode a peculiar race on the favourite by keeping him a detached last all the way, pushing him up the hill and coming wide into the straight. It is assumed that he was riding according to the instructions given to him, but the whole thing caught the eye because Arabian Knight is known to be one paced and will always find it difficult to quicken from behind. Suraj Narredu took Sontag Etoile on a start to finish mission in this event and gave up only in the last furlong. Sontag Etoile should be seen to advantage if his connections decide to campaign him over a mile at his current handicap. The race for maiden 2 year-olds was split in two divisions and both were won by horses from Ganapathy's yard. In the opening event racegoers were surprised to see money pouring in on a horse ridden by Narasimha. This jockey wins a race once in a couple of years, and therefore it was obvious to the discerning that this well-bred filly Originality (Placerville- Hall Of Honour) was highly rated by trainer Ganapathy. It was a very poor lot of horse that she was taking on, and she proved her master right by successfully winning from start to finish. Favourite Anna's Quest was totally outpaced at the end and lost her second position to One ridden by jockey Hayes. It was the upper division which saw a fine display of horsemanship from Colm O'Donoghue. She's Spectacular with Suraj Narredu in the saddle was backed down to on-money on the basis of her last run, when she had run second to a highly rated Alcmene. Appu-ridden On a Roll was also supported while Ganapathy's Special Gesture was allowed to run at 5/1. The speedy She's Spectacular went to the front with On A Roll and Little Splendour in chase, while Special Gesture was seen struggling to keep up with the front-runners. In his inimitable style, O'Donoghue started getting a response from Special Gesture in the straight, and got his horse to come with a flourish through the middle to complete a treble for trainer Ganapathy. On A Roll finished a good second while the favourite packed up like a pricked balloon and should be left alone this season. Brazilian jockey De Souza was another one to ride a popular double during the afternoon. He was seen to advantage on Maahi Ve, when he settled the normally front-running filly in fifth position allowing the front-running Star Royalty, Commandperformance and Dons Delight to wear each other down. He came on the wide outside to pick up the tiring front-runners one by one, and emerged as a comfortable winner ahead of Aspiring Seven and Star Royalty. His victory on a hard-ridden Blink had to be reconfirmed in the stewards room since O'Donoghue astride Southern Chieftain raised an objection on the grounds of interference. Blink had skirted the field around the turn and taken over the running from Imperial Gate, Van De Star and Ciboney. Blink kicked clear of the field and was racing a couple of lengths ahead of the rest. Southern Chieftain picked up momentum from a rear position and started gaining ground on Blink, who by now was running on the centre of the track. Although there was a huge gap on the rails, O'Donoghue continued to follow Blink at a safe distance, and changed course to the inside when he saw his horse gaining ground on the front-runner. Since there was no interference and also because Blink was clear of Southern Chietain when it drifted outwards, the stewards rightly threw out the objection.The day definitely belonged to trainer Ganapathy, Colm O'Donoghue and De Souza.