ARKTOUROS – AN OLD WINE IN A NEW BOTTLE
Mrs. Y. Khaitan receiving The Madras Race Club Cup from Mr. D. Khaitan
Seven-year-old Arktouros showed that he has not lost any of his zest for racing by lifting the Madras Race Club Cup in great style on Friday. However, what may have surprised the aficionados of the game was his novel modus operandi, whereby he was ridden off the pace before the turning for home, and then made his run with giant strides on the outside to completely outpace his five rivals (including the second favourite Dear Henry).
Till this victory, this prodigious property of Mr Deepak Khaitan was known as a natural front-runner, having won nearly all his races start-to-finish. Trainer Vijay Singh and his trusted knight Christopher Alford need to be complimented for this clever ploy as it is bound to stand the old warhorse in good stead in the near future. Now that the gelding is a little long in the tooth, gathering up his speed and stamina for a late burst will fetch him more races in the days to come. After all, his class and rating is indisputable.
Vijay and Christopher, who have made a tepid start to this season by their phenomenal standards, were in their element on this day as they notched up a well-priced treble, commencing with Stiling Veil (9/4) and ending with Social Network (5/2). Arktouros was available at 12/10.
Vikash Jaiswal-trained Abarth closed as the favourite in the opening event but failed to come out of the gates. Stablemate and frequent flyer Do Your Best was oblivious to this fact and set a good pace which ultimately aided Stiling Veil. Alford had him racing in fifth slot till the turn before deciding to improve his position and make his run in the straight. Asian Rocket and Promissory Note filled up the minor placings.
Not to be left out of the build-up party for New Year’s Day races, was sibling Bharath Singh. His two-year-old colt, the fashionably bred Astaire (Burden of Proof – Rhapsody In Blue), made mincemeat of his six rivals in the seven-furlong race for the Meg Merrilies Plate. Trevor Patel piloted the property of Dr Vijay Mallya with complete confidence and did not leave anything to chance. The favourite Moonlit Sky had her chances but ended a tame second after opting for the rails and making a late bid for honours.
The same connections brought home the bacon with on-money public choice Charlemagne (Burden Of Proof-Corsican Girl) in the Steal The Glory Handicap. The three-year-old, large-framed bay, displayed a languid style and yet decimated the opposition at half throttle. He looks certain to reach the highest class before the end of the season.
The mile race for the PP Ginwala Memorial Cup turned out to be a highly competitive affair as was expected. For reasons best know to a large majority of punters and the connections of the two concerned runners, Dancing Dame and Hurricane Star closed as joint favourites at 7/2. Shafiq Khan-trained Skyway was available at 7/1 and was piloted superbly by Parmar. He weaved his way through a large field to move from the last berth and take up the running at the distance post. Outsiders Schwarzenegger and Devil In Disguise – both established milers – filled up the minor berths.
The two divisions of the Little Beaut Handicap were bagged by runners available at high odds. The lower division was something of a déjà vu as Songwriter and Iconic (available at 7/1) battled all the way down the straight for the top slot. Once again, Arti Doctor-schooled Iconic (Mull Of Kintyre-Victorica) prevailed in Kamlesh’s hands. Fancied runners Della Spiga and Ximena failed to overcome their penalties but may be worth keeping an eye on. The upper division of the same race saw Bhungard-trained Apical Finala (Crown Jewels-Justice For All) pull off an encore after a failure two days earlier over a seven-furlong trip. Jockey Shekhawat did well to stave off a strong challenge from Pablo Neruda.
The afternoon undoubtedly belonged to Vijay Singh and Christopher Alford and it was only apt that they brought the curtain down with Social Network (Black Cash-Dancin With Bertie) atop whom Alford rode a power-packed finish to quash the chances of second favourite Follow The Dream, who attracted quite a bit of support.