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By Epsom Ace | 26 Dec 2012 | KOLKATA

Mr. D. Khaitan & trainer Vijay Singh leading Dandified (C Alford Up), winner of The Army Cup


The chill in the air and festive atmosphere was not amiss during the Boxing Day races, which saw three cup events. The feature event of the afternoon, The Army Cup, witnessed the return of the local champion colt Dandified after his debacle at the hands of Ocean And Beyond ten days earlier.

As a three-year-old, the son of Rebuttal out of Dandoona had shown great promise by bagging The Produce Stakes, The Champagne Stakes and the Calcutta Million. The Vijay Singh ward was a little unfortunate to come up against the indomitable In The Spotlight in the Derby. However, it is a fact that he his best up to a mile in stiff company – and seven furlongs is even better suited to him.

On this day, Christopher Alford allowed the prized property of Mr Deepak Khaitan to settle in fourth slot behind the likes of Bold Police, Shershah and Aerator. He only asked for an effort at the top of the straight and the race was as good as over right then. The winner was eased up about fifty metres from home to land a comprehensive victory. There is an ocean of difference between ‘Terms’ races and ‘Handicap’ races, and second favourite River Blitz’s 70kg win in the Delhi Race Club Cup earlier in the season, was merely sufficient to fetch him third spot behind Shershah.

It was a treat to see Christopher Alford back at his best when he piloted Ocean Sunrise (Emerald Cat- Go Go Go) to a smashing triumph in the General AS Vaidya Memorial Cup. The Vikash Jaiswal-trained mare was lying fourth, five lengths behind the likes of speedy front-runners Ocean Fairy, Aqualina and Petaloid. Alford opted for the rails at the top of the straight and squeezed a passage between Ocean Fairy and the false rails – risky business no doubt but that is known to be the champion jockey’s trademark run, and he executed it with excellence. The favourite Royal Dance ran a good race but found one better in the winner.

Apprentcie jockey Tamang utilised his 3kg allowance to great effect when he notched up a high-priced double with Farley Rodrigues-trained Eros (Ikhtyar-Brief Advennture) and the Patrick Quinn-trained old warhorse Samarkhand. The former won an absolute thriller by exploiting an opening on the railing side and edging out the fast-finishing favourite Adoringly and forward running Dance In China at the wire. Tamang’s choice of a rails-run helped him in his endeavour.

In the case of rank outsider Samarkhand running in the Dasho Lhendup Dorji Memorial Cup, it was a surprising change of tactics for the experienced ten-year-old by Greensmith out of Anthalia. On this occasion he was up with the pace – which is a far cry from his usual modus operandi. Nevertheless, his superior class was enough to see him through against the likes of favourite Iverness and Ardent N Graceful.        

The Angeles Plate for youngsters saw another unfancied runner in the form of Shafiq Khan’s Something Stupid. While owner-mate Words ran an expectantly forward race, Hamdani lost precious ground at the start, other than which she would have been nearer at the finish. Nevertheless, the winning colt by Epicentre out of Bollinger was competently handled by Parmar to bring home the bacon in style.

Arti Doctor’s What A Feeling was backed to the exclusion of all others in the Salterello Handicap and very nearly pulled it off after Kamlesh grabbed a rails opening. The gelding was however pipped at the post by Bharath Singh-trained Ice Fantasy (Trevor Patel up). It would appear that the crushing top-weight coupled with the difference in handicap with the winner did in the favourite.

Talking of top-weights, Incanto Bliss ran a great race in the Amalita Handicap but went down narrowly to the public choice Delafruz from Shyam Habbu’s yard. Front-running Smart Hunter was a good third. The winner, a maiden starter, is by Ikhtyar out of Zuni, and was competently handled by Kadam.

The curtain came down with the day’s most facile winner – Silver Silver. The Imtiaz Sait-trained four-year-old by Senure out of Mystique Smile, pulverised the Class IV opposition and such was his superiority, it would not surprise me if he reached the highest class before the end of the season.