DROP OF HONEY SHOCKS RAPHIRE ON THE POST
Mr. N Ramesh & trainer K Pradeep Annaiah leading Drop Of Honey (Arshad Alam Up), winner of The Jog Cup
A long card of nine events was conducted at The Bangalore Turf Club on Saturday. Since a majority of the races were won by fancied runners, the mood of the punters was quite cheerful during the afternoon. The competition was intense and not a single professional managed to score more than once . The biggest upset of the day was witnessed in the day’s feature. The Jog Cup, a nine furlong handicap for horses in class II, was the stellar event in the day’s card. With the withdrawl of Atlas Power, only eight runners appeared in the paddock. Three year olds Raphire, Mr Carpe and Own Asset were being opposed by some older horses. The three youngsters had progressed to this category after some brilliant performances in the last few months. The only thing against them was a concern about their “staying” abilities, as neither of them had tackled more than a mile thus far in their respective career’s. Raphire’s close second behind the ever improving Cecil was a good effort. He was accordingly installed as a marginal favourite ahead of Mr Carpe, Panamera and Lad Star.
The race was run at a very modest pace. Mulrennan found himself in front, and not wanting to fight his mount, allowed Lad Star to lead on sufferance. She was closely followed by Raphire, Mr Carpe, Panamera and Drop Of Honey. The field was closely huddled as they tackled the back-stretch and took the rising ground near the three furlong marker. A mild skirmish took place at this stage. Just as Valdir DeSouza and Mr Carpe moved steadily towards the leader, Suraj Narredu and Raphire were cramped for room. Since Panamera and Drop Of Honey were also moving steadily on the wide outside, Raphire was forced to drop back into fifth position. That was the order as they entered the straight. Lad Star crossed the distance post marginally ahead of Raphire and Drop Of Honey. The three were almost abreast at this stage. With Lad Star getting tired, the finish was restricted to Raphire and Drop Of Honey. While Suraj was busy using his stick on the favourite, whipless Arshad Alam had no option but to push Drop Of Honey. The latter kept responding till the end and managed to get the better of Raphire on the post. It was a fitting finale to an exciting race. Lad Star and Panamera ended close behind in third and fourth place. Panamera was distinctly unlucky, as her saddle had slipped at a very crucial juncture in this race.
Neil Darashah’s Perfect Soul carried the public purse to victory in The AP Kothavala Memorial Cup. The big made two year old confirmed the fine impression that he had made in his earlier start. Because of terrible underfoot conditions and excessive body weight, he had been unable to topple Striking in that race. Stripping fitter thereafter, Perfect Soul had been exercising regularly under Mulrennan’s guidance. He looked the part in the paddock and enjoyed the confidence of the betting public. A huge groan greeted the start of this race. Perfect Soul had played up at the gates and lost a fair bit of ground at the jump. While the other two fancied runners in this race raced prominently, Perfect Soul took a while to join the group. Cheval D’or and Murioi brought the field into view and were three to four lengths clear of Perfect Soul at this stage. Mulrennan gave a couple of left handers to the favourite, but all he did was to lug-in towards the rails. The jockey refused to give up and kept nudging his mount. Perfect Soul re-discovered his galloping shoes and moved determinedly thereafter. He moved alongside Murioi and Cheval D’or and wore them down with every successive stride. His victory was greeted by a roar from his supporters. Perfect Soul is a good looking specimen with a bright future.
An unlucky second to Final Countdown in her previous start, Dominic’s Bessie proved to be much too strong for her class III opponents. Her heavy load was marginally reduced by entrusting her to apprentice Noornabi today. The filly took off smoothly from the six furlong marker and was seen racing in close proximity of the leaders. The moment Starista and Dancing Emeralds ran out of gas, Bessie took control of the proceedings. Noornabi allowed her to go ahead before using his stick. Responding gamely to this action, she gained further momentum to saunter clear of Royal Spirit and Hillstone. The last named took a lethargic start and was seen gracing the wrong end of the field till the top of the straight. The amount of ground he covered thereafter was quite revealing. This is one horse that looks capable of picking up a similar race before the end of this season.
An easier victory was posted by Super Gold in the lower version of this event. It happened at the end of the afternoon. With Dhariwal’s Bebo cornering most of the action in the betting rings, the odds against the other eight kept expanding till the runners reached the starting gates. Suraj eased Bebo into a comfortable lead at the start and she showed the way to Six Shooter, Sweet Timer and Oceanic Wind. The order remained more or less the same till the bend. A dramatic turn of events altered the scene. Bebo slowed down suddenly and surrendered the lead to Six Shooter. He too was unable to maintain his dominance for long, and it was evident that one of those at the back would win this race. The blue colours of Super Gold appeared on the wide outside. With Vaideeshwaran making good use of his whip, Super Gold literally pulverized his opponents. He strode away from them and won by a widening margin of over six lengths at the finish. Sweet Timer and Oceanic Wind fought a close finish for the minor placings.
A couple of three year olds finally succeeded in posting their maiden victories in the two divisions of a seven furlong handicap for horses rated 20-45. Prithviraj’s Igah Igah Igah had finished second in her last start in summer. Prithviraj had given the filly an easy start in early November, and sharpened her thereafter. Those who had seen her working in the morning were hugely optimistic about her chances in today’s race. The presence of Jagadeesh in the saddle failed to dissuade them, and the filly received good support to start as a joint favourite alongside last out winner Frenemee. In the hands of an apprentice, the latter had won a few weeks ago, and it was felt that with a full jockey on board today, he would be able to repeat that performance. The unfancied Cash Is King made the early running and got exhausted at the bend. Frenemee and Fantastic Strike showed out in the straight, but the duo had no answers to the final assault of Igah igah Igah. The chestnut came with a smart turn-of-foot in the final furlong and sped away from Serengeti, Fantastic Strike and Shades Of Scarlet. The three of them ended so close to each other, that a photo was required to decide the final placings.
The lower division presented a great opportunity to Padmanabhan’s Sans Frontieres. He had failed as a public choice on a number of occasions on this very track. However, the field looked so poor today that the bookmakers unhesitatingly installed him once again as an on-money favourite. After running prominently till the bend, Sans Frontieres had always caved-in under pressure and allowed his challengers to beat him for eventual acceleration. There were no such problems today. David Allan adopted tearaway tactics and allowed the favourite to go many lengths clear at the bend. This commanding lead put the chasing pack under a lot of pressure. Most of them came under the stick very early in this race and were a beaten lot, even before they entered the final furlong. Sans Frontieres continued his good work and strode clear of One From A Billion, Haute Ecole and Sareeta. After losing ground at the start, the last named was seen doing some good work at the end.
Another class IV sprint reserved for horses aged four years old and over was also split into two divisions. The upper division witnessed a rare victory for a runner from Karan Singh’s stable. It is learnt that this trainer is getting ready to retire from his trade in the near future. In the hands of a lesser rider, Superior Edge had ended a fair fourth on the opening day of this season. With Sreekanth aboard, the connections felt that she had a great opportunity to win this race. They supported her confidently and sent her as a joint favourite alongside Raaga to the starting gates. With Magic Wave and Raaga setting a good pace, the other eight were seen struggling at the bend. Raaga overtook a tired Magic Wave in the straight and moved strongly towards the winning post. Even at this stage, Superior Edge was finding it tough to go close to the leader. A sudden change of fortunes altered the scene thereafter. Raaga burst a blood vessel and felt the pressure. He slowed down suddenly and this allowed those behind him to bridge the gap. Superior Edge moved the best of the lot and got up in time to nail Raaga on the post.
The lower division witnessed a repeat performance from Mahesh’s Midtown Delight. After winning his last start, he had been showing further improvement on the sand track. Dominic trained Rise To Glory was the fancied runner in this event. Even though this four year old was still searching for his maiden triumph, his track work was extremely suggestive. With Martin Wepner astride, he was expected to score ahead of the others. Allowing Lightning Express and Bourbon Rock to lead on sufferance, both Midtown Delight and Rise To Glory were ridden patiently. Their respective jockeys made their moves simultaneously at the two furlong marker. Shoban Babu produced Midtown Delight towards the inner rails, while Wepner chose the centre of the track. In ding-dong battle for supremacy, Midtown Delight proved to be marginally superior to Rise To Glory. He was half a length ahead at the wire. Steel King was severely punished to maintain his third spot.
The only other race in the day’s card was a Class V event over 1400 metres. A number of unperformed three year olds were searching for their first victory. On the basis of her fine breeding and a placed effort amongst maidens, Darius Byramji’s See You Later caught the attention of the punters. With champion jockey PS Chouhan in the saddle, they backed her down to odds-on favouritism. Neither her top weight, nor the large field of thirteen seemed to bother her supporters. The filly took a good jump and occupied the box seat behind Success Star and April Babe till the bend. Chouhan brought her the shortest way home and skipped clear at the bend. A lone challenger emerged from the chasing pack. The yellow colours of Thunder looked threatening for a moment, but the moment Chouhan put away his stick and pushed the favourite, See You There responded gamely and won by a couple of lengths from Thunder. A long way back came Afternoon Delight and Shivalik Beauty.