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By Mahendra Mallya | 08 Sep 2013 | PUNE

Mr Nirmal Singh & trainer M Narredu leading Supreme Star (D K Ashish Up), winner of The Southern Command Gold Trophy (Gr.3)

The Southern Command Trophy day brought with it some sterling performances by the Army men. Spectacular air shows with choppers and gliders treated racegoers to some exceptional entertainment. Although last year’s war antics displayed by the army was highly awe-inspiring, this year’s show was captivating and thoroughly enjoyable.

The Southern Command Trophy was touted as a tough and open race; however, Dr MAM Ramaswamy owned Supreme Star, entrusted to M Narredu produced a lively gallop to win with surprising ease. Settling into the fourth position early on, Supreme Star fell further back during the course of the race. At the 600 meter mark, Supreme Star was close on the inner rails with only Commander and Demonstrator behind him.

Rajasthan Royals brought the field into view and soon Neona made headway to throw her challenge. Supreme Star got a wide opening which jockey DK Ashish gratefully accepted and shot through with Supreme Star showing good paces. That was it! Supreme Star moved in with a fast and furious gallop to seal the race the moment he barged ahead and amassed a handsome lead. Neona and Storm Tracker tried their best, but on the day, were no match to Supreme Star.

Star Of Babylon (Oath – Arthi) created a flutter while winning the September Handicap as a long shot. Insignia was the prime fancy and with Morals having some support, there were very few takers for Star of Babylon despite the fact that she had finished on well for her last start third.

Sindbaad made the early running with Negotiator, Insignia and Arabian Queen close behind, further back came Star of Babylon. Morals dropped back and was never prominently poised. They were four abreast for the final run with Sinbaad and Negotiator slightly ahead of Insignia and Star of Babylon on the outside. Insignia got into traffic problems and it took a crucial couple of strides for Sandesh to jostle his way between horses. Sandesh gave his all but that little delay in wriggling out cost him dearly. Star of Babylon with a clear passage swung into top gear and finished on unhindered to strike it rich. Insignia was second, but will live to fight another day. Negotiator too ran a good race and will have his day in the sun before long.

Jockey CS Jodha continued his good form and scored a lucrative double partnering Antonius Maximus over 2400 meters and then Celsius over the shorter scurry to notch up splendid victories.

Antonius Maximus (Mull of Kintyre – Brave Star) after putting in a fighting performance to pip Razeenaa last outing, had it a lot easier this time. He reconfirmed his staying prowess with a fluent win completely outlasting his four rivals with conviction. He settled well and early and was third behind Word of Honour and Mars at the turn. Once into the straight, Antonius Maximus didn’t take too long to display his superiority and unleashed a terrific burst of speed to run away from the rest. Woven Dreams made a late bid when all was over. However, Antonius Maximus marched on regardless to score with authority and his winning was never in doubt once they had turned the final bend.

Jodha later utilized Celsius’ short burst of speed adeptly and let the Faisal Abbas ward slip into the lead. He nursed Celsius to go further ahead in the straight. The challenge came as expected from In The Limelight but Jodha rode out vigorously to hold on narrowly. Capitano showed some zip to end a close third ahead of Titleist who yet again arrived late on the scene from the wide outside, but had to settle for the fourth spot this time.

Ice Skater (Black Cash – Touch A Star) won readily as he waited for the right time to strike. He was third behind Wind Craft and Negredo and pounced ahead when Negredo went wide at the turn. He grappled with Wind Craft for a couple of strides before lunging forward and establishing a winning lead in quick time. He looked the winner the moment he went past Wind Craft past the distance post. Super Satin improved positions to finish a decent third ahead of Negredo. Rewarding Desire too was not in the best of positions and finished on well to end one off the frame.

Fontanelle (King’s Best – Ramatni) duly galloped to her maiden victory with Malcolm Kharadi astride. She went out as the day’s shortest priced runner at 45/100. First Glance darted into the lead soon on the jump and Fontanelle quickly moved to one behind the leader. Malcolm confidently made headway at the turn and soon sailed into the lead. Fontanelle accelerated smoothly and looked the winner long way from home. She gathered good momentum and left the field behind to draw first blood in an emphatic fashion. Reckless had a good outing and though a little erratic, was quick to finish on well to end a faraway second. Fabrizio too ran a forward race to take the place money.

Hunt For Heads (Noverre – Bold Raider) ridden competently by DK Ashish settled quickly to run behind the leader Trump Card with Alecto moving up in the bid bunch and Ice Skates was holding the fence. Hunt for Heads headed straight for the lead and quickened extremely well. Alecto took his time warming up and by the time Alecto got into the groove, Hunt for Heads was home and dry. Alecto certainly needed this run and would be handful in his next outing.

Laurus Pride (Royal Gladiator – Coco Beach) pulled off an upset victory going for it right from the start. He led comfortably with Scaramouche and favourite Guns And Roses in striking third as they turned for home. However, Laurus Pride galloped on and never weakened to kick on and score a surprising victory. Scaramouche ran on to end a good second, while Guns And Roses finished a tame third.

For the professionals, jockeys CS Jodha and DK Ashish scored a double each.