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By Mahendra Mallya | 10 Aug 2013 | PUNE

An Acquired Taste (A Sandesh Up), winner of The Eve Champion Trophy (Gr.3)

An Acquired Taste (Strong Contender – G Waitin On O), owned by Dr Nevill Devlaliwalla & Mr Paawan Seksaria) and trained by Altamash Ahmed, stormed home to score his sixth career win from 13 starts, beating a good set of rivals with complete authority.  The manner of victory was such, that his reputed opponents looked ordinary.

“It was a truly impressive victory and I can’t be happier,” said Dr Devlaliwalla. “I was confident that he would do well, but what he displayed was sheer class. I am grateful to Altamash and jockey Sandesh. Winning a race as important as the Eve Champion Trophy and that too with such a long margin certainly gives you a high. I have had a good few weeks in racing and I hope the trend continues.”  

An Acquired Taste stayed at the rear of the field along with Native Knight most of the way. It was Maple Star who settled to lead the field with Master Shifu and Manyatta following closely. Monet too made a brief appearance in the front, but gradually dropped out of contention long before the race got hotter.

Maple Star entered the straight with a two-length lead. Native Knight moved to the outside and took the turn wide. An Acquired Taste was judiciously handled by Sandesh who made all the right moves and got a lovely opening along the rails at the turn. Within split seconds Sandesh moved past Maple Star and then drew away as An Acquired Taste picked up good momentum. He looked the winner as soon as he whizzed past Maple Star and he kept increasing the margin with every stride. This was certainly was commanding a victory as it can get.

If An Acquired Taste’s victory was unbelievably incredible from the sheer manner in which he dominated top class horses, Ishpingo, a race earlier had left most people stunned! Ishpingo had finished last and a bad one at that in his previous outing. He was then in the mid-bunch at the turn and he got to gallop on the wide outside, literally on the main track when the races were held on the monsoon track. He just did not get going and fell back alarmingly to finish more than 20 lengths from the winner Weizhou. No wonder then, he was completely ignored in the betting and no one gave him a ghost of a chance. It was another thing that he was found to have an abrasion on his right hind fetlock after that race. 

Three weeks later, Ishpingo was all zest and lively to take the uncertainties of racing to a new level. This time too Ishpingo (Major Impact – Speed of Light) lay in the mid-bunch not too far away from Dancing Phoenix, Saints N Sinners and Turf Lightning. He came around smoothly and when Dashrath Singh got going, so did Ishpingo. He accelerated in a trice and shot ahead past the final furlong, leaving last start winner Dancing Phoenix and Saints N Sinners behind. Silk Cut was the other one to catch the eye. NS Parmar brought him through the opening on the rails and he finished on fastest beating the others and ending an impressive second ahead. Dancing Phoenix and Saints N Sinners ended together a shot-head separating them for the minor placing.

The day had started on a ominous note with Burn (Diffident – Self Appointed) flooring the heavily backed favourite Sydney and the next in demand Showers of Heaven. Burn came alive at a late stage with less than 100 to go. Showers of heaven looked on course to victory as he led the field home with Speed Up in tow. Sydney by then had bowed out without any show.  On her defence, she did meet with some interference at the bend, however, she did not show any sparkle to conclude that it would have made much difference to her chances.

Showers of Heaven was fighting for survival when Speed Up came to challenge. Equiano and Moon Raker were close behind and it was the latter who made progress to get past the pair in front. Just when it looked like Moon Raker was safely ahead, Burn surged forward with power in the last fifty meters or so and timed his finish right to peg back Moon Raker.  Burn returned victorious virtually on his last power-packed thrust.

Roswald (Placerville – Avec Plaisir) floored his opponents that included stable-mate Hamlet who in fact, was the first favourite at cramped odds. Malcolm Kharadi ran away to establish a long lead soon after they settled down. He did not exert too much out of Roswald in the process and that ploy worked perfectly as Roswald continued merrily to last out the nine-furlong trip through and through. Without giving the others even a semblance of a chance!

Roswald took off a distance ahead of Hamlet and the others in the backstretch and was still leading by a healthy margin as they turned for home. He had plenty left in the straight and he galloped on to post a solid seven-length victory. One Wish improved a notch to beat Hamlet for the second place.

Panthera was third straight favourite to bite the dust. Emperor of France led from the early stages and had So True, Panthera and Quid Pro Quo close behind. Dreamliner and Mr Morrison came next as the field turned for home.

Emperor Of France came under pressure but kicked on for a while. Quid Pro Quo was not quickening as well as he would have liked. Panthera had taken the turn a shade too wide but was making headway. Dreamliner was briefly pressed for room but once he got it, he surged with energy and shot ahead in the final fifty. Panther came calling but was a length too late.

Rehanullah Khan’s Cosmic Dancer (Ajaad – Go Out Backwards) was the shortest priced favourite of the day (4/10 on) and he ably justified the top billing he attracted. He took over the running soon on settling down and on entering the straight, quickened well to carry on all the way. He won impressively without fuss and even the late bid from Seacaucus made no impact on his superiority. Seacaucus did well to improve from the rear and made a sustained bid in the straight, but found Cosmic Dancer too good to handle. Star of Babylon ran on to earn some place stakes.

Fontainebleau (Razeen – Burooq) got the measure of hot favourite Pretty Hot closer home.  Pretty Hot did most things right. He was out and up in front quickly leader Foinaven with Mohegun Sun with them. Fontainebleau was not in prominence, but was travelling well right through. He came into the reckoning half way up the straight just when Pretty Hot was shaping to score. Fontainebleau came with a force gallop with NS Parmar easing him past Pretty Hot to register a memorable debut victory.

Amistad (Glory of Dancer – Dynasty) won the concluding event of the day with a measure of comfort. Balinga darted ahead to establish a long lead with Amistad, Lavender Brown Magic Star and Zanthos in chase. Amistad cut down the sizable lead that Balinga had amassed with ease and entered the straight looking all charged up. He was surprisingly erratic for a stride or two, but when he regained his composure, he accelerated commendably to score a facile victory. He won lengthening his strides and gave no chance whatsoever to anyone from behind to even get close to him. Amistad won with a lot to spare and handsomely. Lavender Brown and the well-backed Zanthos were left fighting for the minor placing. Favourite Grand Duke was tardy at the start and never looked in contention.

For the professionals, trainers Pesi Shroff and Faisal Abbas logged a double each, while jockeys Sandesh and Dashrath Singh were the ones to also score a double each.