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By Mahendra Mallya | 30 Dec 2012 | MUMBAI

Mr Farouq K. Rattonsey & trainer P Shroff leading Onassis (S Zervan Up), winner of The Maharaja Jiwajirao Scindia Trophy (Gr.3)

Onassis (Glory of Dancer – Rahy’s Serenade) plunged into an all out offensive in the final furlong and launched his fiery old gallop to outrun his rivals and score a smashing victory in the Jiwajirao Scindia Trophy (Gr3) for the second year running. Onassis and Zervan had won the same graded race last year as well beating Native Knight and Airplay then. The pair made it even more easily this time and won with a comfortable margin.

Macchupicchu made all the early pace with Bling in chase, the others huddled in a bunch with Smashing at the rear end of the field. Smashing with Trevor in the saddle, made little impression and was hard-ridden to even figure in the frame which she just about managed. Trevor could not manage to ignite the classy filly and keeping her way off in the rear did not come about as a brilliant ploy either. Also, there appeared no urgent efforts from Trevor to improve positions gradually at strategic stages. Smashing was last into the straight and made her bid from the wider outside. She simply didn’t look threatening at any stage. However, Onassis made it up for the Shroff stables and brought the trophy home, over the heavily fancied filly.

Jockey Zervan on the other hand, improved positions atop Onassis, gaining for a from a faraway fifth to be well in touch with the leaders soon on straightening for home. He took the small opening between Macchupicchu and Bling and surged into the lead. Star Marques and Astapi accelerated well to go in chase, but Onassis by then had picked up momentum and blazed away to stretch out of reach. Onassis posted a facile victory, Astapi edged out Star of Gibraltar who too was forceful towards the finish. Smashing ended a tame fourth.

Zervan was the star of the day scoring a terrific treble on the day. He had earlier partnered Invictus and Senora Bella to emphatic victories.

Senora Bella (Burden of Proof – Si Senora) won the supporting event, the Kohinoor Square Kheem Singh Million, a terms race for two-year-olds over 1200 meters. Senora Bella, unlike on her debut, galloped into the lead soon on start and got going meaning business right from the outset. She worked up a lively pace and held the upper hand right through. Brindaban, who was chasing her, felt the heat right from the start and ended chasing the winner all the way.

Into the straight, Senora Bella got even stronger and any hope that Brindaban or Ancient Warrior had to chasing her down evaporated as early as approaching the distance post. Zervan never led the guard down and ensured Senora Bella did loaf, kept her alert and straight as an arrow to extend the margin of victory to impressive three-lengths. Brindaban worked hard to claim the runner up berth, while Zoraavar improved to beat Ancient Warrior for the place money. Senora Bella is evidently developing into a smart sprinter and showed greater improvement over her debut win. Brindaban too ran a good race and should pick up a victory on the Mumbai turf before long.

Mr Zoravar Singh, son of Kheem Singh did the presentation honours. “My father had a delightful career and has the distinction of being the first Indian jockey to win the Indian Derby riding amidst the white boys who dominated the racing turf those days. He was a fearless yet calm rider and would get rough when necessary. There used to be a lot of hustling and pushing those days and some foreign riders using unethical methods too. However, my father never the one to take it lying down, would warn them before and pay them back with the same coin. Soon enough, they realized they could not intimidate him and he earned their respect thereafter. I am grateful to the RWITC and to Kohinoor Square for instituting a race in his memory for the great contribution that Kheem Singh has done for Indian racing. I wish they continue this in the seasons to come and also honour many more such professionals. It feels good to recognize the greats of yesteryears in this manner,” said Mr Zoravar Singh.

Zervan’s victory atop Invictus (Roaring Fever – Eishin Paris) was an imposing one. He had to contend with the top two favourites in Neath and Limitless Hills. He proved it was easy meat in the homestretch powering his way to the front midway in the straight.

Neath was on a start to finish mission and made a steady pace for the race. She was followed by Limitless Hills then came Invictus and Incognito. Invictus turned the heat on the favourite past the 400 and with a steady gallop surged past Neath within seconds. Once in front, Zervan drove out Invictus majestically to score a whopping victory by close to five lengths. Neath fought back for the second spot after Incognito had headed her a little earlier. Limitless Hills fell back at a crucial phase of the race but re-ran again to end a close last.

Faisal Abbas was the other professional to shine on the day with a brilliant treble. His saddled Herculean, Ishpingo and Appalachia to victories in their respective engagements. The most impressive being Ishpingo.

Ishpingo was taking on two fiery sprinters in Elena and the prime favourite Turf Lightning. Elena had a streak of victories coming into this race and was never beaten over 1000 meters in her career. The only cause for concern for Elena was that she was giving a chunk of weight to her rivals and that exactly proved to be the telling blow in this race.

Elena shot out of the gates and as is her style, led from the word go. Ishpingo got off to woeful start losing crucial ground at the jump. Elena led by a narrow margin with Emerging Star keeping her company, Mountain Regiment, Saints N Sinners and Turf Lightning rubbed shoulders while Ishpingo was working his way to join the bunch.

Into the straight, the whip-less boy Nikhil Bhujbal started to push Elena ahead and the Shroff filly seemed on course to victory. Emerging Star was not letting off, while Mountain Regiment and Turf Lightning were making little impression. Dashrath Singh astutely switched out from the rails and made hi bid to catch up on those in front. Meanwhile Elena was hailed with the winning post fast approaching and she kept the momentum going too. In a last fierce burst, Ishpingo flew towards the dying moments of the race and on hindsight, timed his finish to perfection. He shocked one and all with this late surge and pulled off a sensation last stride victory. Commentator Deepak Rajpal braved to commit “Ishpingo has beaten Elena” on the mike while people had divided opinion about the result. In the melee, one forgot to notice that Emerging Star too had finished a shot-head behind Elena – another wonderful effort indeed!

Appalachia (Emerald Cat – Star Gold) scored a solid gold victory on debut. When he came to the fore, the rest looked ordinary. It all started on a quite note, with the lead changing frequently. First it was Romalia who picked it up soon on start and after a brief while Awakening Star held the lead until into the straight. New Star took it up into the homestretch but was soon ganged by Arusha, Amitayus and Appalachia storming in at a superlative pace. Appalachia flew past them all to register a surprisingly easy victory, leaving Amitayus and Arusha panting behind. For a first run over seven-furlongs, Appalachia has certainly caught the eye.

Herculean ((Mr Mellon – Belles In The Mist) provided the first of three winners on the day for Faisal. It looked a open race and a close on at that when the nine runners broke the barrier evenly. Brut Rose, Domain Anna and The Saint were at the helm, with the rest in close attendance as they turned for home.

Brut Rose ran out of fuel and dropped out of contention sooner than expected. Domain Anna could not improve as required and gained nothing. Gararo poked through and looked like striking it rich when Herculean appeared with a devastating run. It was all over in slit seconds as Trevor flashed past them all to score a convincing victory. Gararo did well for his second place, The Saint stubbornly held on for the third spot keeping Rio Del Ray at bay by a short head.

Caesar’s Star (Sir Percy – Wishing On A Star) yet again provided a thrilling last stride victory over Mountain Force in a suspenseful last few strides. They raced at a friendly pace with Monet making the running, Mountain Force, Cypress Point, Caesar’s Star and Rodeo following in a single file almost until into the straight.

Monet kept a steady pace going inside the homestretch, when Mountain Force came alongside to challenge him. Suraj forced his way ahead and took the lead but found Caesar’s Star coming in with a strong run on the outside. The pair fought it out all of the final furlong and jockey CS Jodha managed to land ahead to snatch a well-fought victory.

Crowned Princess (Major Impact – Breno) pulled off a sensational victory in a thrilling three-way finish. Mountbatten led them into the straight and Crowned Princess was right behind. Always Smile slowly disappeared into the oblivion after being there and Asahi came on to the scene looking prominent. These three were well ahead of the rest. They battled all the way to the post and Crowned Princess had the slight edge in the final stages. Ashai hung inwards making Sandesh use that extra effort to get her back to even-keel. That proved costly as Crowned Princess won it narrowly from Asahi and Mountbatten a neck and half length separating the top three.

Bucharest (Placerville – Bratz) won the last race of the day in a splendid last ditch effort to rise from the rear and post an impressive victory close home. Mable and Ice Skates were disputing the lead coming into the straight. Ice Skates was bullying Mable even bumping the latter a couple of times. Mable did get affected but kept her hunt for her second victory on the trot on. She shifted lanes to avoid another collision with Ice Skates but that took away the advantage from her. Bucharest flew in with his might and easily zipped past them to score his first victory in Mumbai in a stylish manner.

A Stewards enquiry followed and it was observed that Ice Skates had hampered Mable’s running. The Stewards revised the order of placing and Mable was promoted to second spot and Ice Skates relegated to third.

For the professionals, Trainer Faisal Abbas led the day with a treble and Pesi Shroff chipped in with a double. Jockey Zervan marched on with a treble and Dashrath Singh too did well to bring in two winners.