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Awesome Astapi Gallops to Victory

By Mahendra Mallya | 11 Aug 2012 | PUNE

Mr Farouq K Rattonsey receiving The Eve Champion Trophy Gr.3 from Mr Gulamhusein A Vahanvaty Steward of RWITC

The star performance on the day came from the well-backed Astapi (Placerville – Blurr) owned by the Rattonsey family and trained by Altamash A Ahmed. Jockey A Sandesh rode a clinical race atop the Poona Stud Farm bred four-year-old gelding, waiting for his moment to strike. He stayed in the last position but close enough to his three rivals all the way into the straight.

Macchupicchu was quick to hit the front and made the running with Bling and Native Knight chasing him at a steady pace. The run up to the distance post seemed regular, the four contenders going in a single file and in close vicinity of each other. That was the calm before the Astapi storm.

Once into the straight, Macchupichhu surged forward and Bling was finding it hard to keep up. Native Knight too was floundering to get his best out. The trio, however, were grappling strongly when Sandesh pulled out Astapi from the rails and gave him the go. Astapi responded with an amazing turn of foot and charged forward with a scintillating burst. Astapi swooshed past them all and scored an emphatic victory without being extended. Altamaash has done extremely well with Astapi in keeping him in great shape and ensuring that Astapi improved steadily under his nursing.  With the conquest of the Eve Champion trophy, Astapi has started his Pune campaign on a terrific note, setting himself up for a crack at the Indian St Leger.

Bling, who was very much in the betting, saw an alarming drift in the ring. She ran under par and this run may best be ignored.  

Sandesh’s sublime form continued as he smashed two other winners thus compiling an impressive treble. While Astapi’s victory was an easy one, his two other winning rides took some doing.

Brunello (Alnasr Alwasheek – Blue Horizon) owned by the Shirke clan and trained by Shirke’s childhood mate MK Jadhav, took on a dozen rivals for the Ronin Plate run over nine furlongs.  This time Sandesh did not bother to play the waiting game and took Brunello to the forward position. He settled him well behind Your Lordship who went tearing ahead to establish a four-length lead through the back-stretch. Your Lordship ran out of gas nearing the 800 and sensing this, Sandesh drove Brunello to the front with a bunch of horses just behind him.

At the curve, Brunello was marginally in front, with Glowing Mist, Ashwa Apollo, Cavalryman, Westerlie (favorite) and Free For All chasing him in a tight assembly. Sandesh astutely held Brunello on the bit until they negotiated the turn and then started to work her to a good tempo. Cavalryman produced good momentum in the final stages and drew closer to challenge Brunello. The duo battled on stride for stride and pulled away from the rest in the final furlong. Brunello even shifted slightly under pressure but Sandesh kept him going and with a determined effort managed to stay ahead at the wire successfully warding off the stiff challenge from Cavalryman. Brunello finally justified his blue blood and can be expected to improve from here on. Westerlie ended a faraway third raising no hope at any point. 

Mr Haresh Mehta owned Incentio (Diffident – Orient Dance), trained by SK Sunderji and bred at the Poona Stud Farm,  followed his last start victory with another resolute performance that earned him his second success in as many starts this season. Winter Wind was running over six furlongs for the first time as was Eskimo. Incentio had a victory under his belt over the sprint and this proved decisive in a way.

This trio dominated the front of the field, the rest making little impact on the race.  Winter Wind and Eskimo were matching strides at the turn while Incentio was lurking right behind them letting them cut the pace. Eskimo got the measure of Winter Wind and sped ahead soon on turning for home. Sandesh produced Incentio soon and marked Eskimo, gaining ground gradually. He caught up with Eskimo, who I must mention, looked a touch gross in the paddock, in the final 100 meters and got past the fighting colt to score a well fought victory. Eskimo’s was a good effort and he surely will strip fitter after this outing and is the one to note.

Winston (Glory of Dancer – Social Place) bred at the Nanoli Stud Farm and jointly owned by the Dhnujibhoy, Rattonsey, Jeejeebhoy and Jaydev Mody combine, scrapped through for a narrow victory while warding off a serious threat from Scarlatti. The Pesi Shroff ward jumped out smartly and was at the helm right from the start. Scarlatti worked her way up to join Winston and these two were well ahead of the rest.

The homestretch saw a grim battle between Winston who was determined to keep his lead and Scarlatti pouncing on the on money favorite to snatch it away. Winston held a slight upper hand coming into the final furlong, but Scarlatti was proving to be persistent with her strong challenge. The dashed past the winning post together with the outcome still a suspense until the judge declared Winston the winner by a short head.

Winston did extremely well to hold on stubbornly and showed a lot of promise for the future. This race will certainly sharpen him and he should develop into solid performer. Scarlatti too was noble in defeat and should squeeze out of the maiden ranks sooner than later.

Stromboli disappointed a large following and went down without a fight. Agni Baan (Major Impact – Fire Dancer) lived up to the promise she had shown in her previous start while finishing second to Scarlet Pimpernel. She galloped freely to notch up an impressive start-to-finish victory without encountering any resistance.

Agni Baan led the field at a good pace with Chemin De Fer following close behind. Stromboli trudged into third along with Marauder and Lyrical Symphony. Incognito had only Enlightenment behind her and the latter had lost crucial ground at the start jumping out tardily.

On entering the homestretch, Agni Baan quickened further and soon got out of range from his rivals. He sped away putting a superb show and won very comfortably. Chemin De Fer, who looked fit in the paddock, ran to end second ahead of Stromboli who certainly could not cope with heavy weight she was giving her opponents. Stromboli should not be written off and on better terms will strike this season. Agni Baan though, was on song right through. He is the property of Mr Maloji Bhosle along with Tinder Ahluwalia and bred at the Manjri Stud.

Maori Chief (Black Cash – Tantalising) opened his account in style as he blazed under the forceful riding of jockey C Rajendra in the final furlong. The three-year-old gelding owned jointly by M/s Haren Malkani, Inderraj Anand, Swastik Siriskar and Ketan Adhikari and bred at the Equus Stud, was constantly egged on by Rajendra and was third behind Winds of Change and Smokey Baba. Earlier, jeweled bungled at the start and was planted in the gates, thus taking no part in the race.

Smokey Baba squandered a good chance as despite getting past Winter Wind and having an open stretch ahead, he could not quicken to drive home the advantage. Maori Chief thundered past him easily to chalk out his maiden win.

Grand Design (Intikhab – Octagleam) owned by M/s Vijay Shirke, KN Dhunjibhoy, & Farouq Rattonsey and bred at the Nanoli Stud Farm, added another victory to her name winning the day’s opening race without dropping sweat. She chased Swift Memories all the way into the straight and smoothly took over to draw away for a convincing victory. Swift Memories played the escort to the winner and did not offer any resistance as she watched Grand Design speed past her comfortably. Cypress Point improved late in the straight to end alongside Swift Memories to be a close third.

Trainer M Narredu saddled a double bagging both divisions of the Al Dante plate. In the lower division, Matilda (Diffident – Persa) sat right up with leader Tudor Regent and took over from the front-runner early in the straight. Serena brushed up from the mid-bunch and improved positions in the straight, but Matilda, by then had galloped out of reach in hands of RK Mahesh. Matilda is owned by Mr Nirmal Singh and bred at the Greenfield Stud Farm.

In the upper division, Emerging Star produced a star performance killing the opposition long way from the winning post. She darted into the lead and maintained a lively pace all through. On a day where the timing of the races was woefully slow,

Emerging Star (Warrshan – Star Liner) owned by the Estate of Late Mr Ajit Agashe and Mrs Simantini  Agashe clocked the days fastest for the scurry. He got even better in the straight and won drawing away from the field. Guns N Roses improved places to finish second while Titleist too gained positions to run into place money. Allowance claiming Jockey Prabhu Naidu rode confidently and guided the Ruia Stud produce to an authoritative victory.

Lazor Razor (Mr Mellon – Lisianski), owned by Hooshang Pashootan, scored in the hands of Dashrath Singh outpacing his rivals with a razor sharp run in the homestretch. The race panned out to be a two horse fight, with Cheponski and Lazor Razor battling it out in the straight. Cheponski had the early advantage once they turned for home and Lazor Razor began to chase Cheponski down. Cheponski resisted strongly but Lazor Razor got stronger at the finish and snatched a narrow half-length victory on the winning post.

Jockey Sandesh was the star of the day yet again scoring three winners while trainer Narredu saddled a brace.