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Rajasthan Royals Shocks All But Trainer Adhiraj

By Mahendra Mallya | 12 Aug 2012 | PUNE

Trainer Adhirajsingh Jodha leading Rajasthan Royals (Nirmal Jodha Up), winner of The Sanjay Kakade Group Turf Club Trophy Gr.3

Between races on Saturday, I bumped into the handsome ‘colt’ Adhirajsingh Jodha. After a casual exchange of pleasantries, I asked him about Ranthmbhore’s well being and how he was shaping up for the Turf Club Trophy the next day. He said Ranthambhore was getting along fine and was shaking off his rustiness at the work track. However, he added, “I am a lot more excited about Rajasthan Royals. He has really come up and looks very fit after his Bangalore stint. I am glad I took him to Bangalore and having raced there, he is fighting fit and I am confident he is going to fight to the end. He may even win the Turf Club Trophy! Every time I look at him in the stables, he brings a smile on my face. I have never seen him in better condition” said had Adhiraj.

I honestly was surprised at this optimism on the rank outsider. It was not as if Rajasthan Royals had fared exceptionally well in Bangalore. Here, RR had to first of all counter his more illustrious stable mate Ranthambhore and with the likes of Ancient Wonder and Cardinal in the strong line-up, what chance did RR have, I wondered. However, the next day I realized how right he was and how wrong I.

Rajasthan Royals (Hymn – Jukebox) ran a brave race with jockey Nirmal Jodha playing a perfect foil to the six-year-old gelding. Dancing Glances led a thickly packed bunch where position was at a premium. They were clustered together all the way. Rajasthan Royals was with the early pace and inched ahead from the mid-bunch right from the start to take to the lead approaching the 800.

At the turn, Rajasthan Royals skipped further ahead of Dancing Glances, Ancient Wonder got himself to be third, Cardinal was behind a pack of horses desperate to wriggle out, Orito, Star Trainer and Weizhou were toiling hard, while Ranthambhore on the wider out could not produce his best.

Rajasthan Royals was firing on all cylinders, Nirmal Jodha egging him on when Dancing Glances found his touch. He warded off Ancient Wonder who was right alongside and surged forward in a last ditch effort to peg back Rajasthan Royals. He got dangerously close when the winning post stopped the fight to relief of Rajasthan Royals. Dancing Glances fell short by the shortest of margins and the race concluded on an extremely thrilling note and a dead-heat wouldn’t have come as a surprise result. The Photo finish indicated that Rajasthan Royals had just managed to stay ahead at the wire.

Cardinal ran a terrific final few strides and had he got a clear run early enough, he too would have joined the pair on the wire after edging out Ancient Wonder from the third place. Rajasthan Royals is owned by Kr Digvijay Singh Shekhawat & Mr Ashok Kumar Jaiswal bred by Rathonsey and Nensey at the Jai Govind Stud.

Sergeant Major (Hurricane State – Razpazazz) owned by Mr Sean Edward and bred at the Hargobind Stud won the battle for the Mayor’s Trophy without bloodshed. He waited all along chasing Monsieur Strauss and Nigella all the way having Dancing Splendour for company until into the straight. Monsieur Strauss had little left in the tank after guiding them in and when Nigella matched strides, he gave way. Nigella had barely taken charge when Imran Chisty alerted Sergeant Major. The Faisal Abbas trainee took off with a brilliant gallop and stretched away impressively to snuff out any challenge from any quarter. He posted an authoritative win choosing the Mayor’s Trophy as the crowning moment of his career by way of a maiden victory. This run was exceptionally good and Sergeant Major ought to be adding to his first win in the current season. Equinox’s was a fascinating effort. He jumped with the bunch but fell back soon. Right through the race he lagged well behind the group and made constant effort as he was pushed all the way forcefully by Rajendra. He laboured on right through the early part yet managed to Peg back Nigella for the runner-up berth. If he gets focused early, he could be rewarded in his next run.

Amika (Senure – So Amazing) owned by Mr & Mrs Shapoor Mistry and bred at their Manjri Stud, came good after showing promise in Mumbai. In the five-furlong scurry, she was quick to settle behind Emerald Rose and Strategy. Burgundy Rose was too far back for a sprint and the way the front running trio stole a march, made it even harder for Burgundy Rose. Amika did not toil too hard to get past her two rivals in front and sailed ahead soon on straightening up. Jockey Dashrath Singh, however, took no chances and used the whalebone a couple of times to ensure that Amika sustained her momentum all the way. Burgundy Rose came from some distance behind and covered good ground to end a notable second. She may relish a slightly longer distance and this race would have brought her on.

Bourbon Street (Gaswar – Whiskers), property of owner-breeder Geoffrey Nagpal won her first assignment in Pune in style. The Sanjay Kolse ward, ridden by Malcolm Kharadi made it a no contest once they turned for home. She got past Starsonboard the leader in a trice soon on entering the straight and won drawing away. She was eased up passing the winning post and this was a thumping victory indeed. Fire Engine ran a notable second as he came from the wider outside to peg back Starsonboard close home. Bourbon Street appears to be a good sprinter and could prefer the shorter and middle distances.

Okavango (Major Impact – Another Time) owned by Mr Jaydev Mody and bred at the Manjri coasted to a handsome victory over a mile. He had covered some ground in his last start and improved places in a sprint race and this time, with a lot of extra ground to cover, made the most of it in what appeared a close contest before the race. Trainer Malesh Narredu had obviously worked out well on his performance and astutely placed him to run over a mile. He accounted for two hotly backed opponents in Jacques and Step Up and also Macedonian who had a fair following as well. Step up though, looked gross in the paddock and surely needs to be given time and this run is best ignored. Jacques looked under duress coming into the straight and was constantly urged by the jockey. Okavango pulled ahead of Sophisticated past the 400 and bounded forward. He looked a lot more convincing in the final 100 suggesting that he is well equipped for longer distances. Jacques laboured to take the runner up berth while Macedonian fought out with Mountain Warrior for the place money.

Champion trainer Narendra Lagad won both the divisions of the Moosa M Hoosein Trophy. His ward – Emerald Valley (Desert Style – Queen Consort) won the upper division after a hard battle with Scintillo. Hammerhead took the early charge and led the field into the straight. Scintillo was quick to surge ahead and sailed into the lead and worked up a nice pace. Emerald Valley who had improved from fourth, started to bridge the gap inside the final 300, the rest were left fighting for the minor placing.

The final furlong was reduced to a match race with scintilla enjoying a slender lead and Emerald Valley breathing down his neck. Both were all out and battled stride for stride. Emerald Valley looked more aggressive in the final fifty and managed to thwart Scintillo on the wire for a nosed out finish. Emerald Valley, owned by Mr Laxmikumar Goculdas and bred at the Pratap Stud was competently ridden by Dashrath Singh who seems to be picking up from where he left off in Mumbai.

The second division of the race was a much easier affair for Naren ward Gloria. With a good second place in her last start, Gloria (Diffident – La Unique) owned by the Bhosale and Alhuwalia combine and bred at the Poonawalla Stud, showed supreme confidence and a lot more condition as she thrashed her rivals for an emphatic victory. At the start, High Society woes continued as he refused to come out of the gates. Divine led them briefly before Gloria assumed command. That was the end of the race as far as Gloria was concerned. She took off at a nippy pace and stretched further away in the straight winning it by a good 3 ½ lengths without encountering any resistance. He won as she liked and it would pay to follow her in her next outing as well, over a sprint though.  Visionaire got some consolation for a decent effort by picking up the second spot ahead of Zaracha.

Vibgyor (Johannesburg – Demons Cloud) owned by Haresh & Manav Mehta and bred at the Nanoli Stud produced great acceleration in the straight to outpace all and sundry to score a fashionable victory. Illustrious led in the early stages before fading away. Starlight Magic led them into the straight but soon surrendered to Saba. Vibgyor who had made rapid progress at the turn, pounced to challenge Saba. Svelte lady was in third for most of the journey and managed to beat Saba close home to take the runner-up berth.  

Springbank (Juniper – Sonic Symphony) sprang from the rear to enliven the finish and snatch the verdict in a last stride victory. Tailing the field with only Classic Money behind her, Springbank covered enormous ground in the straight to win from a near-impossible position, particularly considering this was a five-furlong scurry. It looked rough out there with Captain Smart, Mediator, Brute Rose and By The Way grappling for the upper hand with just 100 meters to go. Springbank swooped upon them all and nailed her rivals in a terrific burst of speed in the final few strides with jockey Nirmal Jodha timing his entry to perfection. Springbank is owned by Mr Dilip Kulkarni and bred at the Capricorn Stud.

For the professionals, trainers Narendra Lagad and Dallas Todywalla saddled a double each while jocksyes Dashrath Singh and Nirmal Jodha rode out two winners each.