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By Mahendra Mallya | 28 Sep 2013 | PUNE

Storm Tracker (Trevor Patel Up), winner of The Nirmal Ruia Million

The Nirmal Ruia Million unfolded on expected lines as far as the finish was concerned. The three-pronged finish saw racing at its best and the crowd had lot to cheer for. Ancient Wonder’s absence meant one of the main contenders struck off the list, yet the race lived up to its top billing alright.

Rajasthan Royals set the tone for the seven-furlong race and led all them into the straight before bowing out. Star Trainer then took charge and was picking up momentum. Supreme Star went for the opening on the inner rails, while Trevor produced Dr Vijay Mallya owned Storm Tracker (Weather Warning – Wolanstonita) from the stand side. At the distance post, Star Trainer had the slight edge, but he was flanked by the top two market fancies looming large on either side. Star Trainer stretched himself to fight on bravely and was going all out. Trevor then got the Shroff trained Storm Tracker to finish with a powerful run to head the wire at just the right time. Star Trainer and Supreme Star both went down fighting, a head and neck separating the top three. Orito ended another 1 ¾ L away to complete the judge’s frame.

Rehanullah Khan trained Mon Ami (Burden of Proof – Wild Rezonution) edged out Quest For Love in yet another gripping finish. Jockey A Sandesh played the waiting game in the mile race and settled Mon Ami towards the wrong end of the field for most of the journey. Brunello came first into view but did not last any longer. Quest For Love surged ahead to grab the lead and was going nicely. Il Moran and Nush began to make their bid. Mon Ami picked up past the 400 and was making steady progress in chasing down the leader. In the final furlong, Mon Ami had only Quest for Love to take on as Il Moran and Nush were accounted for by then. Quest for Love sustained well to take the battle to the very last stride and it took everything out of Mon Ami to produce the KO and nose out his gallant rival. Il Moran stayed on to bag the place money and Cypress Point came from behind to beat Nush for a slot in the frame.

The Animal Welfare Board of India Trophy was marred by an accident on the track moments after the field was let off. Past the 800 meter marker, Mega Star shifted in sharply due to which Huntsman hit the railing and fell. As horses behind tried to move out of the way, Venus Marina veered suddenly and dislodged the jockey. Fortunately both jockeys Ranjane and Malcolm escaped unhurt.

Up in front, the action continued with Vanguard in the lead followed closely by Brown Dynamite, Carlton House, Just By Chance, Ghanghorr and Presidential forming the front group. Vanguard failed to quicken thus squandering a good start. Carlton House soon took charge and was galloping strongly. Hot favourite Presidential came under pressure and drifted out considerably and this put his chances in jeopardy. He had a couple of lengths to catch up with Carlton House, but he again drifted inwards and lost all his chances there. Carlton House (Ace – Queen Ernest)kicked on to secure a maiden win and lift the trophy in style.  Presidential ought to be given another chance as he missed a real opportunity due to his wayward run. With this run behind him, he will strip a lot fitter and will be better quipped next time out.

Set To Fly (Home Affairs – Set the Mood) galloped as though he had sported a pair of wings and floored his rivals with a terrific run in the straight. Set To Fly settled early just behind leader Mighty King with Victorious March and Mable close behind. Debutante Charlotte Ray was slow in the stride and trailed the field all through the race. Set to Fly with jockey J Pradeep in the saddle, stormed ahead the moment he saw Mighty King weakening and worked up good speed to dart well ahead of the rest. Victorious March went all out in chase, with Catharsis making his bid from the outside. However, Set to Fly from trainer Hoshidar Daji’s stables, bounded ahead towards the finish leaving no chance for the others to get anywhere close. He won with a sizable margin as Victorious March ended chasing him, Catharsis in tow. Mable ended a tame fourth.

Favourite Desert Wings (Ace – Desert Lightning) improved on his last start second to Starring and scored an emphatic victory, beating a large field convincingly. Sun Salutation led them into the straight but when asked for an effort, she could not quicken. Desert Wings was ridden out by jockey P Trevor and a couple of backhanders saw her get past Sun Salutation without difficulty. Once in the lead, Trevor powered the Shiraz Sunderji ward even further and the filly kicked on gamely to stay ahead all the way home. Su O Moto improved considerably in the latter half of the straight to finish a notable second. Adams Spirit rose from the mid-bunch and labored his way to earn place money.

Mahiki  (Senure – Torque) galloped to her maiden victory and obliged a large following at profitable odds for a first favourite. The Cooji Katrak ward entrusted to Kamlesh, looked the part in the paddock and was quick to settle behind leader Dreamland soon on start. She grabbed the lead entering the straight and produced a fiery gallop to shut her opponents out within a few strides. She grew stronger at the finish and sailed home to post a memorable first win. Ice Age came from the mid-field to take the runner up slot from a bunch of horses clustered together. Sherlock Holmes did well to end third close behind Ice Age. Mahiki sizzled and can add to her success. Ice Age too looks to have run into form and may well be worth a watch in her next run.

Rehanullah Khan trained Palace Girl (Tejano – Sarabande) came with a late finish to stump the front running pair of favourite Neptune’s Ocean and Strategy. It was Captain Smart who had led them into the straight before fading away. Strategy soon took over and felt the pressure as Neptune’s Ocean began to mount his challenge. The pair was battling hard with Small Treasure also showing up close behind. Palace Girl, owned by Mr Ashok Rajani, Sreedhar Raju and Ketan Mehta warmed up inside the final furlong and unleashed a powerful gallop to surge past the fighting duo and log her first career victory in good fashion with Neeraj Rawal astride.  Neptune’s Ocean ended second, a shade ahead of Strategy and Small Treasure.

Basic Life (Royal Gladiator – Spring Dawn) from Antia’s yard came alive to score in a well fought victory beating favourite Summer Eclipse in a close finish. Basic Life entered the straight with Summer Eclipse right on her tail. While Basic Life quickened well and sped further ahead, Summer Eclipse was taking her time to match strides with the leader. Basic Life was ridden out by jockey Ishwar Pardeshi anout d although Summer Eclipse was looming large all the time, she failed to surge past the leader. Basic Life held on grimly to carve out a narrow win and create a flutter.

Jockey Joy Chinoy powered Gibran to a facile victory in the opening race of the day. Viva Zapata set the tone and when they turned for home, Chinoy guided Gibran to the front and there was no looking back. Gibran went from strength to strength and stretched away to pile on a huge lead and win with a good margin. Viva Zapata kept Adams Prince at bay to pick up the runner up slot.

Winged King (Black Cash – Dungeon Princess) from trainer Pesi Shroff’s stables rose to the occasion and won with a late blaze despite having to go wide at the turn. Monteray led from the start but failed to sustain. Asahi had improved from the mid bunch to take charge soon on turning for home. All looked well for Asahi in the first half of the straight, however, Super Satin and then Winged King started to chase the leader down. With 100 to go, Asahi was fighting a losing battle as both the challengers were gaining on him. In a final surge, Winged King proved the strongest finisher as he nosed out Super Satin in a thrilling finish.

For the professionals, trainers Pesi Shroff and Rehanullah Khan saddled a double each and P Trevor was the lone jockey to score a brace.