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By Mahendra Mallya | 15 Aug 2013 | PUNE

Trainer S K Sunderji leading Woven Dreams (Trevor Patel Up), winner of The PRA Independence Million

Thursday’s races at Pune showed a continued trend of outsiders ruling over fancied runners. Only two favourites obliged in the eight-race card. The Super jackpot and the Jackpot pools were carried over with both pools swelling over a million rupees each. Four out of the eight winners fetched three-figure dividends on the tenner, with Ice Empire paying out the highest dividend of the day - Rs 231/- and also sending a major chunk of the jackpot pool hunters out of the reckoning in the first leg itself.

The PRA Independence Million was the feature event of the day along with the two divisions of the Pune Sub Area Trophy. The presence of the Army provided a different aura to the day with the Army band playing the National Anthem in the paddock. The rains kept away and the weather was perfect for an afternoon out. For those who kept away from the bookmakers’ ring, it was a thoroughly enjoyable day with some super recoveries and close finishes on the turf providing plenty of excitement.

Woven Dreams (Ace – Divin Lumiere) owned by M/s Haresh and Manav Mehta, was on his first mission this season. He was vying over a distance of 2000m he had never attempted. The 10 to 1 shot from trainer Sunderji’s yard was carrying the top weight too (62 kilos) and as the odds suggest, was ignored in the betting.  Jockey P Trevor was adept in his handling and positioned Woven Dreams in the mid-bunch and his finishing touches enabled him to win the PRA Independence Million in a closely fought race with IL Moran.

It was Winning Destiny who dictated the pace, leading the field by a fair margin. Dance Debonaire, Chicharito and Oxbridge were racing together about three lengths away from the leader. Queen, IL Moran, and Su O Moto were not too far behind with Woven Dreams tucked in on the rails.

Queen improved well and took charge soon on turning for home. IL Moran galloped with zest to come to challenge Queen as they straightened up for home. Woven Dreams was warming up but had to cover some ground as IL Moran had gone ahead and was looking on course to land the spoils. Woven Dreams gathered momentum in the final furlong and challenged IL Moran strides away from the winning post. The duo battled hard and the smaller made IL Moran resisted all the way. It was practically on the last stride that Woven Dreams managed to stretch out and nose the wire to clinch the short-head verdict in an exciting finish. IL Moran was gallant in defeat and his performance too was commendable. Queen ended third another three lengths away. Razeena, who was tailing the big field for most part of the journey improved well to fill up the frame.

Ice Empire (Black Cash – Vivienne) owned by M/s Rakesh Wadhawan, Waryam Singh & Ashok Gupta returned the most impressive winner of the day, completely outpacing his rivals to win the upper division of the Pune Sub-Area Cup. The Hormuz Antia trained Ice Empire settled behind Invincible and the favourite Zoraavar and made his move only after the turn. Ice Empire poked through a narrow gap between the two front runners and streaked ahead at a fast clip. Zoraavar moved to second, easily getting past Invincible but could not match the brilliance of Ice Empire. Jockey SP Ranjane ensured that Ice Empire maintained the momentum and galloped away impressively to log a victory with a healthy margin.

Arusha (China Visit – Adored) owned by M/s Jaydev Mody and Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, produced her best run to earn her maiden victory. Brindaban was installed the favourite, despite the five kilos that he was conceding to Arusha. In the end, that proved vital.

Brindaban shot into the lead soon on start and went at a brisk pace. Ice Skater, Gottawearshades, Negredo and Arusha were galloping close behind. Brindaban entered the straight with a slender lead. Ice Skater tried hard to get closer but was not quickening as he should have done. Sandesh got Arusha to respond to his call and the Bezan Chenoy trained filly came with a strong run. Brindaban was going all out, but Arusha finished on powerfully scoring a facile victory and earning her winning bracket. Brindaban should benefit with this run and will live to fight another day.

There were two winners on the day that made remarkable recovery from the rear to emerge from near-improbable positions to stage a stunning final run for victory.

Mr Jaydev Mody owned Bombardier (Steinbeck – Only Royale) thrilled a large following when he surged forward towards the fag end of the race to snatch the race which looked safely in Colourful Prince’s clasp. Considering the fact that Bombardier was the quickest out, this was an extremely good effort from the Malesh Narredu ward. Jockey DK Ashish was seen making conscious effort in covering lost ground right through the first half of the five furlong race.

Colourful Prince led the bunch with Silsila, Ultrasonic and Rewarding Desire close to one another. Even at the turn Bombardier was a good couple of lengths behind the fourth horse.

Colourful Prince shot ahead soon on straightening for home and extended his lead. Ultrasonic made little progress and could not catch up with the leader. Silsila too failed to quicken. Bombardier made rapid progress along the inner rails, but still had to cover a lot of ground to reach out to Colourful Prince. In a final surge inside the final furlong, Bombardier found his touch and speed and produced a powerful finishing run to overhaul Colourful Prince and post a victory by a length. Jockey Ashish got a splendid welcome from a vocal crowd for pulling off such a dramatic victory.

Ghazal King (Sedgefield – Bright And Cheery) was the other horse to come from far behind and win despite the chips looking down at the half way stage.

You’re the Boss and Negotiator were swapping the lead between them with Archimedes galloping behind them. Ghanghorr, Shishya, Caesar’s Wife and Gift Wrapped came up next and detached from the bunch was Ghazal King, lagging a good four lengths in the last position. You’re the Boss entered the straight with a slender lead and he was soon challenged by Archimedes. By then, Ghazal king had made good progress and he was lurking in the third spot. He made a telling forward move in the final furlong and made his run between You’re The Boss and Archimedes to storm past the duo and score his maiden victory in a dramatic fashion. Archimedes finished second well ahead of You’re the Boss. Gift Wrapped dislodged her rider DK Ashish at the mouth of the home stretch. Fortunately he escaped unhurt.

The day had begun with trainer Vinay Lagad opening his account for the season with Eye Of The Storm (Hawkeye – Storm River), owned by Begum Shaherbanoo Lagad representing Chetak Horse Racing Pvt Ltd. Jockey Dashrath Singh gave the seven-year-old mare a copybook ride, taking charge from Viva Zapata who set the early pace round the final bend, and then driving her to a popular victory, always staying clear of the hard-ridden Adams Prince (Kavraj Singh up) who had to put in an all-out effort to ward off Light My Way & Ishwar Pardeshi who showed some energy after the heads for home.

However, the day clearly belonged to trainer Sanjay Kolse who saddled a superb double at lucrative odds. Kolse bagged the Rajaram Chhatrapati Trophy for class II horses when jockey C S Jodha, who has been in excellent nick this season, brought the Geoffrey Nagpal & B R Mehra-owned Rodeo with a flourish to put his elegant neck ahead of Mountbatten, who had just about managed to overpower favourite Papakura close home, and momentarily, was shaping like a winner. 

Kolse picked up the day's honours with a brace, turning in a stunner in the last race when In The Limelight (Emerald Cat – Sound of Silence), freely available at 20-1, managed to grimly hold on from Theology (NS Parmar up) who had received inspired support by the connections and their followers in the hope of a quick, back-to-back double for trainer Bezan Chenoy who had just led in Arusha in the lower division of the Pune Sub Area Trophy. 

Asbar managed to secure a good position for In The Limelight early, while NS Parmar astride Theology raced in the back bunch as King Julien (Sandesh up) led by lengths, setting a very fast pace. In The Limelight quickly grabbed the initiative after turning for home when King Julien shot his bolt midway in the homestretch, and this clever move stood him in good stead when Parmar asked Theology to accelerate, and the five-year-old mare put her heart into a gallant effort that almost pulled off what moments earlier had looked nearly impossible.