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Capriole Gallops to Stupendous Victory

By Mahendra Mallya | 26 Aug 2012 | PUNE

Mr. K.H.Vachha, Mr. Z.H.Vachha, Mr. R.A.Meherally & Trainer S.K.Sunderji leading Capriole (A.Sandesh Up), winner of Threptin Fillies & Mares Stakes Gr.3

Not long ago did Sandesh shed his allowance claiming status. Today he is jockey trudging into the bigger league. With no replacement seen in the last few years to giants like Vasant Shinde, Pesi Shroff, Aslam Khader, Robin Corner and the Narredus on the horizon, young jockey A Sandesh arrives on the scene as a optimistic hope. While the greats had an aura about them, Sandesh is yet in his boyish youth and demure in nature and has not yet developed the flamboyance of these star jockeys. However, he has in the recent times, pulled off magnificent victories many of them on unfancied horses.  And if there is one who has shown promise of scaling dizzy heights with his jockeyship, Sandesh is the one who, with guidance and experience, can try and emulate and figure among the greats of yesteryears.

“I am yet in my learning days,” says Sandesh. “There is so much more to learn, so much to practice. I am getting the hang of things and learning something new every day.  I am lucky to get the opportunities to ride for several trainers and this exposure has been a terrific experience and boost to my hunger. I have ridden over different tracks now and this has helped. You will remember that I was disappointing in my Bangalore stint last year. I had nothing to show after that season. I was truly disappointed with that Bangalore stint but was determined to do something about it. I was not disheartened. I worked hard on my riding, went about asking questions and tips from senior riders, watched a lot of videos of top jockeys and applied their techniques where ever I possibly could. This exercise proved vital for me as I improved considerably. This year I am satisfied with my Bangalore achievements and have carried my form over here in Pune.”

Sandesh is undoubtedly correct in his self-assessment and kudos to him for working out his short-comings. It has paid off and how! His ride over Capriole in the Threptin Fillies & Mares Stakes (Gr 3) was exceptionally top notch. “Yes I am satisfied with Capriole’s triumph. I remembered how I had ridden to beat Alma Mater earlier atop Star Of Gibraltar. That took some doing too. But I was receiving chunks of weight and this made me plan an early advance in that race. By the time Alma Mater had begun to gallop at her fastest, I had Star Of Gibraltar well ahead. I did the same with Capriole as that seemed the natural thing to do. Alma Mater was once again giving a lot of weight and the same ploy worked! I was very optimistic if not very confident of my chances of winning the race. I guess it’s all about doing the basics right and I was lucky to have pulled this one off too,” Sandesh told indiarace.

As it panned out, favourite Volterra dictated the pace and led comfortably until the turn. Bling was in second with Capriole, Sovetskaya, Nadia Royal Highness, Alma Mater and Vittoria in that order all the way until the turn. Sandesh made a quick switch of gears and easily piloted Capriole past Volterra while taking the turn. Capriole responded ably and was galloping at a brisk face and looked good coming into the straight. Just as Sandesh has pointed out earlier in conversation with me which I have reproduced above,   Alma Mater had too much catching up to do and Capriole had enough legs to surge past the winning post with her front- half craning to lunge to the wire.

Alma Mater galloped resolutely towards the finish giving each rival 8 1/2 kilos and was a tad unlucky not to have got her nose in front. Nadia was impressive with her finishing effort and for a first run on this track, did exceedingly well. Volterra disappointed. She had every chance to score but just couldn’t bring out her best. Her performance in this race is best ignored. Sovetskaya did reasonably well to figure on the frame beating Volterra home.

Trainer Shiraz Sunderji was obviously jubilant. “I had lot of hopes on the filly of late, particularly after she won beating Blue Ace last outing. She has grown much stronger now but I will have to admit I was indecisive whether to run her in this big race against the likes of Alma Mater or pick an easier race for her.  I made up my mind and even the owners agreed with me to test her with the best. I am glad that she lived up to our expectations and gave us so much pride and joy with this victory. We will now sit together and draw her future career plans,” said Shiraz.

Capriole (China Visit – Silken Star) is owned by M/s KH Vachha, ZH Vachha & RA Meherally and bred at the Usha Stud Farm. The owners contributed Rs 25,000/- towards the charity drive organized by the RWITC for the Bombay City Red Cross.

The Threptin Race had a charity angle to it and the RWITC put in place a collection drive towards the “Helping Hands Campaign” of the Bombay City Red Cross. The response from the racing fraternity was overwhelming. Mr Vijay Shirke donated the entire stakes he earned on the winning of Incognito and Elena. Mr Berjis Desai donated 25% on his winnings on Good Looking, Mr Vivek Jain contributed 25% of the winning stakes that he earned on his filly She’s Sweet. The RWITC on their part, made a contribution of Rs 51,000/- while a section of officials put their little bit and collectively added to the fund.

On the presentation podium, Mr Shyam Ruia seen holding the mike on rare occasions, urged his fellow committee members of the RWITC to make matching individual contribution to the noble cause. The personal effort put in by Mr Ruia in ensuring a sizable collection was as touching as it was encouraging.

For trainer Shiraz Sunderji, Capriole was his second winner of the day. Earlier his ward Good Looking (Tirol – Hafitha) owned by the Estate of Late Mr VS Dhanashekar and Mr Bergis Minoo Desai scored a rousing victory and the heavily backed favourite available at good odds (5/2) thrilled her followers with a resolute victory.

Good Looking jumped out smartly and soon held the top position with Angels Quest tracking her. Charlie Cool opted to settle in third along with Zoom Zoom. Three Roses surprisingly fell back alarmingly to run a detached last.

Into the straight, Good Looking quickened well but took a bit of time to shake off Angels Quest. The latter fought for a couple of strides but approaching the distance post, Sandesh applied his magic touch and Good Looking confidently strode away from them all to score a sizzling victory.

The Shirke owned Elena enhanced her status to being a champion five-furlong filly in the country by showing scorching speed right from the start. She bolted out of the gates and led the field, which had among them some super fast initial pace setters like National Glory and Saints N Sinners. Elena looked very much at ease as she worked up fiery pace and on turning for home stretched out nicely with Zervan going hands and heels all the way. Weizhou travelled at the tail end of the field all through and was hastened by Imran Chisty coming into the straight. He covered maximum ground and did extremely well to beat all the other younger rivals to take the pride of place on the quarters of Elena. Elena became the first to clock less than one minute this season and that too on a day when the timing was not particularly fast. Weizhou achieved that distinction as well while finishing a close second.

Elena (Alnasr Alwasheek – Intuition) bred at the Exhilaration Stud, is the undisputed sprint queen on the circuit. Weizhou is showing signs of returning to his best and should be at the busy end when he attempts next, particularly over a six. Saints N Sinners looked a bit rusty and this run will get him going and he too should be able to assert himself shortly.

A race earlier, Shirke’s Incognito (Kheley – Indistinto) bred at the Poona Stud produced a blinder at the finish to shock three highly fancied runners in Hills And Heights, Sugar Loaf and Stromboli. And all three were well ahead of Incognito at the final bend who had only Vibgyor behind her.

Stromboli who was chasing Illustrious from the start, pulled ahead soon in the straight. Hills And Heights, Salt, Sugar Loaf and Incognito were in a close huddle trying to outdo one another and get at Stromboli. Stromboli hit the distance post with the pack hounding her but it was only Sandesh ridden Incognito who spurted ahead and challenged Stromboli. The pair fought out the final 100 and the MK Jadhav trained Incognito pushed past Stromboli to win with a very narrow margin. The others finished in a heap with Sugar Loaf and Salt leaving no place for the favourite Hills And Heights in the frame.

She’s Sweet (Glory of Dancer – Clean Sweep) owned by Dr Shashi Chand Jain, Mr Rohit Sharma and Mr Vivek Jain and bred by Blue Blood Investments got the sweet taste of victory on her third attempt. The Zadmal Singh trainee jumped out smoothly from the gates and sailed into the lead. She galloped at a good pace and favourite Kerrisdale settled one behind her. Danse Debonaire travelled wide outside all the way and that proved a poor ploy. She’s Sweet did not give even a sniff of a chance to Kerrisdale as she bounded forward majestically to shut the door on Kerrisdale and company. She dispatched the opposition with disdain and romped home posting a runaway victory. She will surely improve on this and the rather ordinary timing she clocked was only due to her being eased up well before the winning post.  Kerrisdale ran on to end a far away second, but will show improvement in his next. Star Gazing covered a lot of ground and did well to earn place money.

Commander (Noverre – Momentarily) bred at the Sohna Stud and owned by M/s Gautam Thapar and Sultan Singh was ridden well to victory by Dashrath Singh. The Bezan Chenoy trained Commander was not exactly in command but fought his way through to lead the field on turning for home. Set To Fly set himself up nicely to make a potent bid and looked a serious threat looming large on Commander’s outside. These two were fairly clear of the rest they fought stride for stride all through the straight. Dashrath Singh went all out on Commander and put up a brave fight. Set to Fly faltered under pressure drifting out and running erratically which that proved to be his undoing. Commander warded off the challenger to register his first victory. Set To Fly would take many positives from this race and if he doesn’t wobble in the manner he did this time, he should come up trumps soon. Home Advantage improved towards the end and ended a good third. Scarlatti squandered a good chance as he failed to quicken after leading the bunch homeward.

Colours Flying ran out of steam and caved in to the forceful gallop of Ice Zone (Major Impact – Sunshiner), a Wadhawan property bred at the Manjri Stud. The Antia trained chestnut gelding made an impressive debut with Zervan nursing him to a suggestive victory. Favourite Colours Flying and Ice Zone hit the front with the former enjoying a marginal upper hand coming into the homestretch. Once in the straight, Colours Flying was off the bridle earlier than Ice Zone. The others were not too prominent. Ice Zone stepped up pace and easily got past the favourite and stretched out ahead to run away from the field. Al Attaturk who had followed the duo all the way, improved to beat Colours Flying for the runner-up berth.  

Ice Zone promises more successes and could stretch over an extended distance as well. Al Attaturk improved to beat Colours Flying and is showing signs of getting better. Colours Flying is causing concerns as this is the second time he has failed as a firm on money favourite. He has the bloodline and the conformation but hasn’t transformed that on the track. Dallas Todywalla now needs to go back to the drawing board and figure out a way to instill some fire in his ward’s belly.

Hurricane Bird (Hurricane State – Actuate) pulled off a start-to-finish triumph accounting for prime fancy Capitano with a measure of comfort. Carrying the light bottom weight, Hurricane Bird flew after coming into the straight and Capitano ended chasing the Sanjay Kolse gelding all the way to the winning post.  Capitano was right alongside Hurricane Bird initially, but simply failed to quicken as well as Hurricane Bird did. Capitano however, showed improvement over his last run and should be given another chance. Hurricane Bird was simply too good on the day.

Springbank (Juniper – Sonic Symphony) scored an encore and despite his last start victory was quoted at generous odds some even offering 10 to 1! She rose again from the rear to time her run to perfection and snatch the verdict on the post. The one to suffer the agony of a skin-of-the-teeth-defeat was Ashwa Apollo.

Jens Secret, Fantastic Kingdom and Star of Zoltan raced abreast early on and were leading a tightly packed front-bunch. Fantastic Kingdom took charge early in the straight and shaped like making this run acount.  He was soon tackled by Suki Suki who too promised to run away with the race. Just at this juncture, Ashwa Apollo made her appearance and joined in a hot battle. Springbank was late to arrive but he produced a fiery finish to cover good ground and finish on fastest to get the nod on the wire in a scintillating finish. The opinions on the photo finish result were divided as many felt that Ashwa Apollo had won it before the Judge cleared that doubt. Full marks to trainer Imtiaz Sait and jockey Nirmal Jodha who managed to get back-to-back victories with Springbank.  Suki Suki looks set to have her day soon. Ashwa Apollo was truly unlucky to be shocked on the post. Springbank was bred at the Capricorn Stud.

Warrior Prince (Major Impact – Ghazwat) owned and trained by Hormuz Antia and bred at Manjri Stud scored a facile victory in the concluding race of the day. After a shoddy start to his career, Warrior Prince showed he had come to hand in his last outing, his eight career start, while finishing on to stretch Sweaty Betty on the second day of the season. This time Warrior Prince showed what he is capable of and impressed while compiling his maiden win. He led from the front all the way and once in the straight, marched on ahead without having to stretch himself at any stage. Zervan eased him up a fair distance before the winning post after looking back to find himself all alone in front. Arabian Fighter covered a lot of ground briskly to be the best of the beaten brigade.

For the professionals, trainers Shiraz Sunderji and Hormuz Antia saddled a double each and jockey A Sandesh continuing his great run notched up three winners as did Zervan.