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Shivalik Hero Wins Gen Rajendrasinji Million in Style

By Mahendra Mallya | 01 Sep 2012 | PUNE

Trainer M Narredu leading Shivalik Hero (B Sreekanth Up), winner of The General Rajendrasinhji Million

Dr. MAM Ramaswamy camp has been upbeat with a good number of their horses picking up races at Pune this season. A new name added to the ‘Goldie Brown’ camp is Malesh Narredu, who once was a regular rider for the racing baron. On Saturday, Narredu, now associated with the Ramu camp as trainer, sent out Shivalik Hero (Rebuttal – Mullagh) in the General Rajendrasinghji Million and the Hero returned triumphant. Before the race, Narredu was on tenterhooks, which was rather strange as he is a thorough pro with a been-there-done-that attitude. I voiced my surprise to him just before the race and he replied – “Oh so you noticed? Well, to tell you the truth, I am actually a bit nervous. I have ridden for Dr MAM and I share a unique bonding with him to date. We enjoyed some very successful and high moments. It was years ago but the stint I had with him was special. I was saddling the very colours I had so often donned myself as his jockey. I was keen to make a winning start representing him as trainer now. I will admit that I had lot many butterflies in my stomach than I could handle.”

Fortunately, Shivalik Hero had none in his stomach. He took a while settling down and jockey Sreekanth stayed behind, tailing the field of four. Phoenix Force was a tad slowly off but brushed up quickly and got past Blue Ace, the overwhelming favourite. Winston stayed just ahead of Shivalik Hero in third.

Blue Ace picked up at the turn and was pushed to go into the lead. Shivalik Hero too improved position and was gaining ground coming into the homestretch. Blue Ace’s tw-length lead seemed inconsequential as Shivalik Hero was devouring ground at a brisk rate and the inevitable happened past the distance post. Shivalik Hero stretched ahead and drew away from Blue Ace to score convincingly.

Shivalik Hero won comfortably implying that the longer trips are well within his compass. Blue Ace showed his limitations and his constant second spot finishes is frustrating. However, he should pick up a handicap race over the middle distance. Winston surely lacked in experience and needs time to bloom to potential.

Smart Strider (Red Clubs – Celtic Memories) scored an even better victory this time than his last start, providing a back-to-back double to the Ramu camp, this one trained by home boy Karthik. With Victorious March garnering heavy support Smart Strider was at nourishing odds of 5/1.

Irresistible Hunk shot into the lead and made quick progress with Victorious March, the heavily backed favourite, racing alongside. Viva La Diva,  Eskimo, Stringsofmyheart and Smart Strider were in a close huddle. Check Her Out and Lake Paradise were never in the hunt.

As they straightened up, Irresistible Hunk was successful in resisting Victorious March but was no match to the blazing finish of Smart Strider. Smart Strider dismissed the opposition with complete authority and dominated the final furlong. He won as he liked and add to his tally this season in the kind of form he is in. Irresistible Hunk certainly ran a good race and is a candidate to note. Victorious March did not justify the money flow on him and may have needed this run. Stringsofmyheart and Eskimo looked too dazed by the dazzle of Smart Strider and on their day should make a mark. Smart Strider is bred at the Hazara Stud Farm as was Shivalik Hero.

M/s Shyam & Amay Ruia’s horses, trained by Noshir Cama and ridden by Neeraj Rawal picked up the last two races of the day which included the Potential Champion Trophy an ideal title for debutantes. A dozen first-timers lined up for the all important test of their racing career. Be Positive had worked well in her morning trials and was expected to do well and thus she received solid support in the markets.

At the start, Pepe Senior was tardy and was slowly off. Blind Date was quick to lead the rookies with Edith Piaf galloping close behind and Pistol Packing Mama moving along nicely along the rails. Be Positive was just behind and was closely followed by Nush with Songlark a couple of lengths away. The others just had an outing.

Blind Date shifted out at the turn giving Pistol Packing Mama a huge opening. Being closet to the rails, Pistol Packing Mama shot into the gap and led the bunch homewards. She looked good but only until Edith Piaf started to eat up ground. Edith Piaf (Black Cash – Selerina’s Song) flashed to the scene and zipped past the leader to score a solid victory with a measure of comfort. Nush warmed up in the latter part and ended a notable second. Pistol Packing Mama perhaps had the best opportunity, but failed to convert it to a winning cause, but did well to end in the money.

Edith Piaf tasted first blood and will surely improve. Nush is the one who covered a lot of ground and she looks an early winner. Pistol Packing Mama and Blind date showed a lot of early speed and a shorter sprint would be a good option for them both. Songlark needs time as she was never in the hunt finishing one off the frame. Be positive did not enjoy being cramped for space and showed discomfort rounding the bend. The jockey too looked unbalanced at that point; hence, this run may best be ignored. Edith Piaf is bred at the Equus Stud owned by the Ruias themselves.

In the last race, the same team struck again with their Equus Farm bred Quid Pro Quo (Royal Kingdom – Unbiased). Double Diamond and Dream Weaver were at the helm with Quid Pro Quo huddled in a tightly packed mid-bunch along with Relic Hunter, Fireback, Donata, Serena and Angels Tern.

Quid Pro Quo showed aggressive intent as Neeraj Rawal bulldozed his way through a narrow gap between Double Diamond and Dream Weaver while taking the turn. That pitched her right with Relic Hunter who had just begun to make his final run and Fireback too was ready to make his bid. Serena went wide at the turn and lost considerably ground at a vital juncture which cost her dearly.

Quid Pro Quo surged slightly ahead with both Relic Hunter and Fireback making a serious bid to question her charge. The trio was hard at work and although Quid Pro Quo was ahead, her challengers were snapping at her tail. Quid Pro Quo held on bravely to ward Relic Hunter by a length. Fireback could not sustain and gave up, content with the third place. Serena completed the frame.

El Classico (Marju – Merwaha) owned by Mr Shapoor Mistry in partnership with M/s K Dadachanji, Hoshang Dadabhoy and Sarosh Shapoor Irani was back to his best while cantering his way to a facile victory. After his successful debut, El Classico had lost his way with a series of poor performances but this time, he produced a powerful run right from the outset to win unchallenged from start to finish. He took off at a brisk pace and was in command right through. Apocalypse and Wings of Glory were in chase as they turned for home.

Into the straight, El Classico sailed ahead and soon established a huge lead and galloped on to thump the opposition, stretching out to a four-and-quarter lengths victory. Apocalypse ran on to finish second doing well to beat the rest. Mountain Warrior covered good ground to finish in the money.

Titleist (Emerald Cat – Noble Anchor) ran a scintillating race to win warding off a stiff challenge from Hurricane Bird. Conztanza, who kept Titlist company until the turn, faded soo after giving Titleist the clear lead. Hurricane Bird started to inch closer but that’s all he could manage. Titleist galloped out to win well and Hurricane Bird had to be content with the runner-up slot. Endless Horizon was the one to finish on fastest and looks ready to have her day soon.

Reckless Romeo (Burden of Proof – Scaglietti) picked up the Air Dash Plate Div I with a spirited stretch run. He improved to third at the turn with Tudor Regent and Rose Bud in front. Mumbai King moved along the rails and progressed well in the straight. Tudor Regent came in home with a two-length lead but failed to quicken thereafter. Reckless Romeo ridden by Akshay charged towards the leader and encountering no resistance, surged past to win comfortably. Mumbai King came too late on the scene to bother Reckless Romeo but did enough to keep the winner on his toes and finish ahead of Tudor Regent. Staffan improved well under the whip-less Tushar Nemane and this run will surely strip him fitter.  The favourite Herculean was a prominent fourth until the turn but faded out coming into the straight. It was later announced that Herculean broke a blood vessel.

The lower division of the race saw a keen fight for the finish between Sizzling Love and Domain Anna. Domain Anna hit the front right from the gates and held a clear upper hand coming into the homestretch. She was a couple of lengths clear of Xenia with Sizzling Love (Sizzling Melody – Love and Joy) another three lengths away. Inside the final furlong, Domain Anna looked safe as Xenia didn’t seem to bother her, but Sizzling Love started to cover ground at high speed and they flashed past the wire together. Sizzling Love got the verdict by a bob of the head. Jockey Dashrath Singh doing well to guide the SN Joshi trainee to a thrilling win.

Trainer Hosidar Dajee's connections pulled off a solid coup with their well backed Walk of Life (Ikhtyar – Cape Vaticano) well ridden by Malcolm Kharadi. He nursed the mare with patience in the second last position for the mile race, easing her ahead all along through the first half of the race. At the turn, Chasing Memories, who had established a runaway lead, had little left in the tank. She battled on until the last 300 and fell back. Atlantic Star was about to take charge when Walk of Life breezed past to put the issue beyond the rest. Walk of Life won running away. Adams Prince improved to run a tame second ahead of Atlantic Star.

For the professionals, Noshir Cama was the lone trainer to saddle a double. Jockeys Neeraj Rawal and B Sreekanth scored a double each.