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Jaydev’s Neona Sparkles to Win Wadia Trophy

By Mahendra Mallya | 19 Aug 2012 | PUNE

Mr Jaydev M Mody & trainer Bezan Chenoy leading Neona (A Sandesh Up), winner of The F.D. Wadia Trophy Gr.2

Sunday’s races were dominated by a few professionals and the one who rampaged through the day was young jockey A Sandesh. Sandesh, who is in sublime form, rode four winners out of six mounts. He had a near miss on one and placed third with his first mount of the day. That was an exceptional performance indeed. The lad is full of confidence, yet a willing learner. “This was one of the best days of my career. I had mounts with good chances and I wanted to make the most of it. I have been feeling pretty confident after my victory in the Bangalore Derby astride Borsalino.  That Derby win has given me a huge boost and I feel a lot more confident,” said Sandesh after booting home Free Verse in the last race of the day.

The boy however, still believes he has a lot to learn. “Practice is essential no matter how many winners one rides. I still go on the wooden horse and to Sherry (Kapur) Sir to sharpen up. Sherry sir is a good guide and his suggestions and corrections have helped me hone my skills. My mentor Rehanullah Khan has also been very helpful. His advice in judging the track and the pace of the race has helped immensely and I owe a lot to these gentlemen. There are many others too who have helped me get better. I have been lucky to have enjoyed so much help and guidance,” says Sandesh who has both his feet to the ground and is as humble as he was when he began his career.

Sandesh piloted Mr Jaydev Mody & Tapias’ Neona (Ace – Victory And Gold) bred at the Poonawalla Stud Farm adeptly. Neona, with two runs under her belt was seeking her maiden win. She jumped out nicely and ambled alongside favourite Silver Birch in the front of the bunch.

“I was receiving the weight advantage so I wanted to stay well ahead in the race. Neona travelled well and I had no difficulty in guiding her to the front and in the straight, she responded extremely well made my job that much easier. I knew that I had sewn up the race as we entered the straight. All I had to do was nurse her towards the winning post. She did all the good work,” said a modest Sandesh.

Neona stretched out nicely and shot away from her rivals once in the straight to register her maiden success with a stamp of class. Anahi ran well to end runner-up and Sun Salutation showed signs of coming to hand with a good effort to end third beating Silver Birch to fourth.

Sandesh had earlier piloted favourite Star of Gibraltar (Alnasr Alwasheek – Dancing Image) to an exciting victory as some resistance that came was from his ‘senior ‘stable-mate Clarion Call. Enlightenment was once again slowly off and raced at the tail end of the field. Clarion Call called the early shots and led comfortably ahead of Star of Gibraltar, Native Knight and Ocean And Beyond. On straightening up, Clarion Call made Star of Gibraltar work for the lead and even when the latter got past, he offered stiff resistance all the way to the winning post, never allowing his mate to take victory for granted. Ocean And Beyond showed sparks of his peak form and despite carrying 63 kilos, did run a notable race, even raising hopes of running the winner close nearing the distance post. If not for the vast weight difference, Ocean And Beyond could have had a better say in the mile-and-quarter race. Dallas Todywalla did well to rope in the top two places the second with an older horse who he has done commendably well to keep as fit. Star of Gibraltar is owned by Mr Dinsha Shroff, Aban Chotia, Dadachanji and Mrs Lynn Deas and bred at the Exhilaration Stud.

Haresh & Manav Mehta’s Fireback (Oath – South Beach) bred at the Sohna Stud, followed his last start victory with another thumping win providing Sandesh with his third success of the day. Settling behind leader Reinstate early on, with favourite Theology a couple of lengths behind, Fireback followed the leader and shot into the lead soon on turning for home. Sandesh nursed the Mansoor Shah trainee into a good rhythm and maintained a handy lead early in the straight. Theology took a long time to find the fiery pace she is known to finish with. That came a tad too late as when she began to cover ground, the deficit was too much to overhaul.

“I did feel the heat in the final 100 when I felt Theology getting closer. Looking ahead, I know I had enough to stay ahead as the winning post was fast approaching, also I had a good momentum going. My victory was never in doubt, but yes, I did feel a bit tense and was relieved passing the winning post,” said Sandesh sharing his thoughts on the final stages of the race to indiarace.

Sandesh rounded off the eventful and highly successful day with another splendid victory in the last race atop Free Verse (Ontario – Savannah). This was expected to be an exciting race with at least half a dozen close contenders seriously fancying their chances. Purple Moon was the prime favourite and Free Verse backed to second-in-demand.

Sandesh was alert at the start and did well to shoot ahead from gate 8 to lead a aggressively galloping field.  Sweaty Betty and Purple Moon were quick to take the closet spots behind Free Verse and they went at a good clip. As they turned for home, Free Verse surged further ahead quickening well and approaching the distance post, had emerged well clear of the field. Purple Moon tried hard but could not match the gallant strides of the Peerbhoy property, bred at the Sohna Stud. Sandesh left nothing to chance and romped home a comfortable winner sending the MK Jadhav stables into ecstasy. This was a good gamble well pulled off.

Although Sandesh had a super day, there were others who claimed their share in the limelight. The Dr MAM Ramaswamy camp in particular did extremely well scoring three victories on the day. The roll started with a back-to-back double and a race letter firing again.

The Ramu-karthik-Sreekanth combo first struck in the Dr K Vasudevan Trophy with their Hazara bred ward Red Baron (Ad Valorem – Kon Tiki). Jockey Sreekanth is fast improving and with a number of wins in recent times, is developing into a confident and skillful rider. He judged the pace to perfection in this one, staying at the tail end of the field right through and surfacing at the opportune time.

The start was disastrous for Jacques, one of the main contenders in the fray as he whipped around dislodging his jockey as soon as they jumped out. Snow Blaze made the early running with Secret Service, Fortune Hunter, Knighton and Etesian in close order. Red Baron was detached, trailing them by about two-and-half lengths. The pace was friendly and none seemed to mind that, least of all Sreekanth. By the turn, he had brought Red Baron right up with the front bunch and he burst through the middle to launch the chestnut gelding to rocketing speed.  Red Baron tore away and that was the end of any contest. Red Baron proved far too superior on the day and won stylishly without a bother. Fortune Hunter did well to mop up the runner up berth while Snow Blaze might like a slightly shorter trip to suit his start to finish style. He ended a good third though. Knighton was a big letdown. He looked good in the paddock but ran explicably below par, finishing down the flied after looking prominent at the turn. He is best left alone until he brings in some spunk in his racing.

The ‘Goldie-Brown’ brigade struck in the very next race with another Hazara produce Smart Strider (Red Clubs – Memories). Smart Strider lived up to his name and won like a half-money favourite ought to, dishing out a seven-length drubbing to his hapless rivals. Smart Strider settled behind Fireheart initially and none of the others looked like making an impact on the race. Smart Strider didn’t wait too long and took charge early at the bend and strode away majestically to establish an unassailable lead coming into the final furlong. Smart Strider showed good speed and romped home with authority. The way he went about his tasks, he promises to finish off the season with a couple more victories. Fireheart settled for the second spot after showing good early speed and looks a winner-in-waiting. Papakura had a good educative run and didn’t exert too much while taking the third spot just ahead of Alkazi who improved a notch to figure in the frame.

The Dr MAM Ramaswamy camp signed off a fruitful day with another victory with Admirals Stride beating Sandesh ridden Act of War who was attempting the mile for the first time. Act of War cornered a lot more betting at race time and that saw the odds on Admirals Stride soar from 18/10 initially to more than 3 to 1 at race time.

Fajr led the field with Act of War quickly moving into the second and Admirals Stride too moved up to be a close third. Act of War cut down a sizable lead set my Fajr to get past and into the lead soon on turning for home. Admirals Stride set up the chase and it looked a two-horse contest. The duo fought tooth and nail with Admirals Stride wearing down Act of War close home to pip the favourite and return victorious and open his account. Angels Crown was shoddily handled and he was the one to cover maximum ground in the final furlong to end on the haunches of the duo. Angel Crown finished on full of running implying that he is ready to strike in the near future. Act of War looks a candidate for a little less than a mile distance.

The other professionals to shine on the day was the Pune Champion trainer Narendra Lagad. Like the Indian cricket team, Naren too is difficult to beat on home turf and Pune seems to be his backyard. He saddled three winners in the day with a lightening start in the first half of the day all at lucrative odds. He rolled out Neptune (Inhabitant – Golden Collection) a bay gelding foaled at Doaba Stud.

Lola took a quick start while Allegiance and Romantic Beauty were slowly off. Lola galloped at a brisk rate with Neptune following closely. They entered the straight alongside each other and soon Neptune was looming large on Lola. The pair extended their fight with Lola refusing to be cowed down when Soli Deo Gloria starting to bridge closer. In the final 100 it got too close a fight, but Neptune had enough legs to carry on and win with a narrow margin from Soli Deo Gloria and Lola. Twittillator improved places to end a close fourth and bears watching.

Naren picked up another close finish involving his ward Tell Me More and hot favourite Stormy Princess in a nail-biting finish. Tell Me More was way back and being pushed and plodded even before the bend while Stormy Princess appeared a lot more comfortable as they took the turn, led by Jacqueline Smile. Stormy Princess eased into the lead and shaped like a winner as she sped ahead. Tell Me More bounced back with a telling run and started to inch closer. He caught up with Stormy Princess and fought out stride for stride in the final 150m. Stormy Princess, to her credit, fought back gallantly after Tell Me More snatched a slender lead. Both hit the wire together, but the bob of the head worked in favour of Tell Me More who notched a well-deserved victory for the tremendous effort that he had put in right from the start. Persian finished in the money however, ending way behind the top two.

Naren’s Three Roses had caught the eye in her debut a fortnight back and improved on her performance to get the measure of favourite Starsonboard. Three Roses strode well to get past Starsonboard early as they jumped out and then kept a good momentum going. Starsonboard chased the winner all the way but was finding it hard to get past Three Roses. Starsonboard however, got into top gear only in the last fifty and gave her all but Three Roses had just enough to keep her nose ahead on the wire. Gates of Heaven was the one to run close to the winners with a good effort in the final stages of the race.

For the professionals, Sandesh stole the show with four winning rides. Sreekanth was not far behind with three to his name. Trainers Karthik and Narendra Lagad led in three winners each.