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By Mahendra Mallya | 24 Aug 2013 | PUNE

Fortune Favours (Dashrath Singh Up), winner of The Nana Raghunath Trophy

Sport is majorly to do with winning. Thrilling finishes, adrenalin flow, great conquests and admirable achievements all go into record books. However, there are some special moments when certain incidents collaborate and leave a charming, pleasing impact that is emotionally very satisfying. One such occurrence unfolded at the Pune racecourse on Saturday. Sanjay Kolse, who is steadily mastering his craft, experienced a rather pleasant happening with his ward Fortune Favours.   

If there was one trophy that Sanjay Kolse would have been most enthusiastic to win, it surely would have been the Nana Raghunath Trophy instituted in memory of his brother, late Nana Raghunath. What made it even more important was the fact that it was also Nana’s birth anniversary! The late trainer was among the most popular trainers in western India, and his younger brother Sanjay Kolse learned the skills of training under his brother during his early days. Nana and Sanjay are sons of former jockey-trainer B Raghunath, whose most memorable achievements include riding Red Rufus to victory in the Indian Derby (Gr.1) in the mid 60s. Nana himself was a knowledgeable trainer, a thorough gentleman and the ‘go to’ man for any guidance or assistance to many from the racing fraternity.

“He played a big part in the preparation of In the Spotlight when she was in Kolkata” recalls trainer S Padmanabhan. He was a close family friend and among my most reliable friends. I wish he was around during those glorious moments of In The Spotlight”.    

Paddy’s wife Sharmila was the one who called and informed me that it was Nana’s birthday on the 24th of August the very day the race in his memory was slated. “It’s Nana’s birthday today and we had a small celebration too. It would be nice if you could mention this during the trophy presentation”, she told me.

Fortune Favours (Glory of Dancer – Vantage) did the star turn as she obliged a large following and did it for Nana and his brother. Jockey Dashrath Singh kept her in the fourth position as Hay Day galloped into the lead with Jen’s Secret and Phelps close behind. Fortune Favours improved to merge with the trio in front approaching the bend. Hay Day kicked on, leading by a couple of lengths into the straight when Fortune Favours appeared on the scene for the final finish. Phelps was not quickening as he would have liked to while Burn was finishing on. Fortune Favours collared Hay Day at the distance post and then put in a spirited run to speed past Hay Day and bring joy to not only the connections but to scores others. This was sort of a divine culmination to an emotional endeavour.

Dyna (Mr Mellon – Banaadir) overcame some anxious moments by going wide at the turn and then drifting out further in the straight. She got into a nice rhythm early and settled behind Vanguard with Javelin and Arta comprising the front bunch. Affirmation and Antartica Zone followed a couple of lengths further down.

Vanguard entered the straight and was going well. Dyna veered out at the turn and caused anxiety to her followers. Vanguard was not dropping his guard and continued on marching towards the winning post. Jockey CS Jodha was hard at work trying to get Dyna on even keel, but was also getting the Faisal Abbas trained filly to gain on Vanguard. He finally managed to overhaul the leader inside the last 100 meters and Dyna surged ahead to post a convincing victory to make a memorable debut.

Dyna could have posted a more imposing victory had she kept a straight course. Vanguard didn’t do too badly and looks a good prospect. Javelin had an educative run and showed sparks of fighting for it early in the straight. With a run under her belt, she would come with lot of positives from this race. Arta looked keen in the paddock, but would need more sharpening up. Antartica Zone improved well towards to finish, ending in the money.

Two other three-year-olds made a mark scoring their first success in the two divisions of the Sans Pareil Plate. Swashbuckler (Razeen – Exquisite) lived to his name and scored an aggressive victory in the upper division. He looked the part in the paddock, yet was quoted in the ring at nourishing odds at 7 to 1. On the contrary, Penny Lane looked on the grosses side and was the second favourite (9/4) behind Sailor (6/4).

Mohegun Sun shot into the lead and had Annabeth for company until the turn. Sailor and Penny lane were up next. Morals settled a couple of lengths behind with Aventador, Swashbuckler and Mi Tiamen on his tail.

Morals was quick to force himself into striking position as they rounded the turn. Swashbuckler took the turn about eight horses wide and jockey Trevor had already alerted him by gathering the reins and giving him the go, as they entered the straight.  With 400 to travel, they were all closely bunched together; however, as they went for the kill, it was Morals who stretched ahead with Swashbuckler appearing on the scene with telling strides.  Morals’ lead was short lived as Swashbuckler gathered momentum and zipped past Morals. What was more impressive was that Swashbuckler was not even on full throttle. Trevor relied on going just hands and heels and some active pushing, never going for the whip hand at any stage. Swashbuckler strode majestically ahead and pulled away from them all suggesting that he would relish more ground as well. His victory was noteworthy.

Morals did well too considering he was running first time after being gelded. He may have needed this run and he will look to better the result soon. Sailor disappointed his followers and could not sustain his early speed all through. He was clearly outpaced by Swashbuckler and Morals.

It was Quest For Love (Black Cash – Native Quest) who won the lower division and also pulled off a lucrative coup for his connections. The Antia trained gelding was backed down from the 6s to 4 to 1 at race time. Ace Connection, the even-money favourite, was listless and made little impact on the race. He was one paced and had never looked in the groove.

Padmakosa hit the front with Quest for Love settling in on the rails. Zorro, Rock The Turf, Ace Connection and Zlato were close behind. As they turned for home, Quest For love readily hit the front and started to accelerate further. Jockey Ranjane got into action mode soon and a couple of cracks saw him sail ahead and amass a winning lead past the distance post. Ranjane ensured that he enjoyed his moment in the sun, raising his fist in triumph, after looking back a couple of times and finding no threat in the vicinity. Gallant Lad improved towards the end to finish a decent second. Zlato, who was closest to the winner in the straight, fell back to end a faraway third.

Trainer Subhag Singh led in his first winner for the season with his ward Running Sun (Alnasr Alwasheek – Radiate) beating a small but what seemed a tough opposition. Though the field had only four in the fray the odds were very much ‘back-able’ on each horse. Running Sun didn’t take too long to go into the lead and settled to set a comfortable pace. Zakynthos ran close behind the leader with Sumo and Bizarro in that order.

Jockey CS Jodha hustled Running Sun further away once they turned for home. Surprisingly, neither Sumo nor Bizarro could find their true mettle and both faded out long before expected.  Both looked a trifle gross in the paddock and Sumo in particular certainly needed this run. Taking nothing away from Running Sun, the Subhag trainee booted home the early advantage and safely kept a fighting Zakynthos at bay, to prevail by just over a length.

Colossus (Ace – Connivance) from the Shroff stables scored an impressive victory on his first assignment in Pune. Imran Chisty rode a clinical race doing the right things at the right time. He settled Colossus well and early waited for his moment to strike as Word Of Honour did all the early running. One Wish and Cactus Cash were prominent behind the leader until the turn. Colossus improved position to be up close to the front and made his forward surge soon on entering into the straight.

Cactus Cash was stuck behind Word of Honour and by the time he switched lanes Colossus had drawn away. Cactus Cash tried hard to bridge the widening gap, but Colossus was relentless as Chisty drove him away to score a comfortable victory. Mars showed no improvement over his last start triumph and ended a tame third.

Jockey Dashrath Singh had a productive day as he rode a fine treble thereby going one up on arch rival Sandesh and getting to the top of the jockey’s tally. He started the day on winning note by scoring with Star Builder (China Visit – Magic Fountain) who attracted considerable betting at race time. Head of State was the firm favourite, but he simply didn’t justify that status and finished in the rut after being prominent until the turn.

Zafirah guided the field homewards and surrendered. Head of State was right up there and at the time that he was to have driven the advantage, he simply failed to quicken. Star Builder was still on the bit when he came with a fine burst to pass Head of State and propelled away to pile up a winning lead in just a couple of strides. There was no threat in sight as Dashrath went hands and heels to score a very easy victory. Stable mate Mountain Warrior improved from the fourth position to end chasing the winner. Amsterdam was the one to cover a lot of ground and ended picking up place money and this after being out of sight in the rear for most part of the seven-furlong race.

Dashrath later partnered So True (Warrshan – So Shocking) to an even easier victory going for it right from the word go. So True shot into the lead and galloped at a fast clip with Song of Sparrow, Colourful Prince and Twilight working up to stay in contention. Astromia and Tachyon were another couple of lengths behind the front bunch.

So True kicked on gamely once into the straight and Song of Sparrow and company were under severe pressure. So True generated fiery pace to gallop away to notch up a facile victory. Twilight ran on to finish second without as much as offering a fight. Astromia improved positions and ended third ahead of Song of Sparrow, but was far from impressive.

Herzeliyah (Mumbo Minstrel – Miss Padmini) finally achieved her maiden victory which had eluded her in her seventeen attempts.  She found her feet and form on the day as she raced with alacrity to be up with the leader Veneziano and matching the leader right from start. On turning for home, Herzeliyah quickened well and soon took charge. Wild Imagination came up to challenge and the two were fairly clear of the rest. Wild imagination tested Herzeliyah but the Sandeep Manglorkar ward was up to the task and held her ground to finish off her good work and earn the sweet taste of victory.

There was an objection for the minor placing. Follow Me had originally ended third. CS Jodha atop Arabian Lord who had finished fourth lodged an objection against B Nikhil the rider of Follow Me for coming across and causing him a check near the 600 meter mark. The objection seemed valid as Nikhil did cut across sharply and Jodha had to check his mount. The Stewards saw reason and upheld the objection reversing the judge’s verdict.

For the professionals, trainers P Shroff and HJ Antia saddled a double each. Dashrath did well to score a treble, while jockey CS Jodha to pick up a double.