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By Mahendra Mallya | 03 Aug 2013 | PUNE

Falco Nero (A Sandesh Up), winner of The August Handicap

The soothing sunshine was a welcome change on the Pune track as the rain-clouds took a break providing respite to the city. Two pros – jockey A Sandesh and trainer MK Jadhav also carried the day shining brightly right through, scoring multi successes individually. Sandesh booted home four winners including the August Handicap, the feature race, with Falco Nero. MK Jadhav returned a rich haul sending out three winners from his stable at lucrative odds. His charge Gangnam Style in particular tossing out the opposition with awesome ease.

Falco Nero (Haatef – Desert Grouse) made ample amends for his last start fall and looked a different proposition in the paddock with the benefit of the run. In comparison, Caruso, who was the joint favourite alongside Falco Nero (2/1) looked a touch gross and like Falco Nero, could score the next time out.

Sandesh got straight down to business as the gates flung open and flew out of the gates to lead the ten-horse field. Insignia and Domingo were closest to him. Caruso was taking his time warming up and made gradual progress past the 1000m mark. The rest raced in a closely herded bunch.

Falco Nero entered the straight with a substantial lead considering he was still on the bit. Insignia and Domingo were under pressure. Caruso started to make some progress but never looked threatening as by then, Falco Nero was in complete command. Sandesh booted home the early advantage and Falco Nero had lot left in the final furlong. Falco Nero romped home with a lot to spare to clinch the August Handicap in an impressive fashion.

Indication ran on to take the second spot ahead of Caruso, but the latter was clearly short of a run and although Indication was well ahead of Caruso, the Shyam Habbu ward is for the notebook, he certainly deserves a following.

Sandesh and Mk Jadhav dominated the day, even jointly on two occasions. Ainra (Placerville – Refresh) was MK’s first representative of the day and was ridden by Sandesh who had already got into the winning groove in the day’s first race. Ainra’s task may have been made easier as the hot favourite Mykonos dropped her jockey while on the way to the gates and bolted. She was subsequently withdrawn, resulting in 50% deduction in the bookies’ payout on both win and place.

However, not taking anything away from Ainra, the filly donning the Shirke silks galloped into the lead at a good pace on the jump. Negredo soon joined her on the outside and pair was dictating terms to the rest. Strategy was next up behind looking a prominent third as they swung around the home turn.

Ainra had to fight off a determined effort from Negredo. Here is where Sandesh lent his skills. While Naik went for his whip, Sandesh relied on his strong pushing, going hands and heels all the way and getting good response from the filly, carried on without using the whip. In the end, he stretched away to post a well fought victory. Negredo was persistent, but failed to get that extra bit and had to be content finishing runner up. Strategy ran on to earn the place stakes.

Gangnam Style (Modigliani – Briland) shocked the field with a singeing gallop in the latter half of the straight. Favourite Mahiki had done everything right until the distance post. She had jumped well and had hit the front in quick time. Gangnam Style too was right on cue, racing alongside the leader. Erotic Flame was not too far behind, but failed to raise the levels when it mattered.

Mahiki and Gangnam Style tore away from the rest and a gripping fight was on. Mahiki went all out and Gangnam Style refused to budge. They were stuck together for the most part of the short straight and in the final 100 meters, Gangnam style quickened well to get the measure of Mahiki. Gangnam Style was impressive and may provide an encore.

Novak’s victory was probably the most dramatic one for the day. Pezzonovante had stolen a march and had shaped like a winner after darting into the straight with what looked a substantial lead. Novak had improved to second as they entered the straight. Pezzonovante was a good four lengths ahead approaching the distance post and most would agree that on the Pune straight, this was enough if the horse didn’t shorten the strides. Pezzonovante surely didn’t, yet Novak picked up momentum in the last 200 meters. Sandesh was vigorous and was bridging the longish gap at a brisk race. His final assault proved fatal for the hapless leader and Novak and Sandesh had made a perfect landing!

Sandesh had started on the right note with Run Like The Wind (Mr Mellon – Engaging Girl) in the day’s first race. Run like the Wind sat second behind the runaway leader Bonobo all the way until past 600 which is where he came and joined the leader. Favourite Cornelian played a waiting game and made his move only when they neared the final turn.

Sandesh exploited this early upper hand over the favourite and took off soon on straightening for home.  Now that left Cornelian a lot of catching up to do. Sandesh had Run Like the Wind going at a good clip and without exerting too much kept the momentum going. Cornelian did his best in trying to get past Run Like the Wind, but could not manage to topple the winner.

Song of Sparrow (Jeremy – Shirley Moon) needed just one run (race no 10) to get into the groove. She had won her last two starts in Mumbai and she picked up that winning form on her second run this season. She took off to brush past Edit Piaf who had taken the jump quickest and settled to dictate the pace at a good clip. Soon Silver Streak came up to be well in touch with the leader. Song of Sparrow came into the straight with a slender lead and with Silver Streak improving to second, it seemed a matter of time before Song of Sparrow was done with.

A consistent 4 year old gelding, Winston (Glory of Dancer-Social Place) from Pesi Shroff’s yard made every post a winning one in the Piccolina Plate. After a good jump from the gates, Winston went ahead early to lead followed closely by Papakura, Halle and Octopaul, with Hurricane Wind and Capital Attraction travelling towards the rear together. Into the home stretch Winston responded well to Nerraj Rawal’s urgings and stepped up the momentum to increase the lead and win by 3 1/2 lengths. Halle got closer to the runner-up Papakura towards the finish but failed to get the better and ended up third.  

Song of Sparrow had other ideas. She gained in momentum as she quickened further to draw away from Silver Streak. Edit Piaf had some catching up to do and she too was just warming up. With under 200 to go, Song of Sparrow had a handy lead. Both Silver Streak and Edit Piaf gained considerable ground, but Song of Sparrow had enough to ward them off. The winning post did not arrive a moment too early for Song of Sparrow. Edit Piaf’s finish was eye-catching and she could prove a point in her next.

Narendra Lagad trained Crowned Princess (Major Impact-Breno), the oldest of the dozen runners in the higher division of the Air Dash Plate romped home by a lengthening margin. Jockey Dashrath Singh took the 6 year old mare to the front quickly at start and settled well to be about two lengths ahead of the nearest runner as they took the final turn. Once the field came into the straight Crowned Princess stretched out easily to draw clear. Mountain Wind moved up one position to finish second while New Wings and Ice Affair filled the frame.

Jockey R.Vaibhav piloted Adhirajsingh Jodha trained Menage A Trois (Ikhtyar-Pinotage) to a maiden win in the Londonderry Plate, the concluding race of the day. Tracking the leaders Trump Card and Wind Chime till the last 500 metres, Menage A Trois moved up swiftly to join Trump Card while Wind Chime dropped out of it. The two then matched strides for a short while before Vaibhav was able to drive Menage A Trois to the front to win by four lengths. Su O Moto rallied late to beat Trump Card for the second place.

For the professionals, Jockey A.Sandesh rode a quadruple while trainer M.K.Jadhav saddled a treble and Dallas Toddywalla a double.