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By Mahendra Mallya | 29 Sep 2013 | PUNE

Clinton (Imran Chisty Up), winner of The Zurbaran Trophy

While An Acquired Taste was the star of the day, there were other commendable performances during the Leger day and one such was dished out by Clinton in the Zurbaran Trophy. Clinton (Razeen – Veena’s Pet) showed his versatility by winning his second successive victory in Class I making light work of the top weight (62) he was carrying.

Spirit of Mercy spurted into the early lead darting past Okavango to guide the field. Blue Ace kept Clinton company with Commander, Cent Per Cent and Invictus in that order. Spirit of Mercy gave way to Clinton soon on turning for home. Clinton produced a fluent gallop to surge ahead and soon sailed away covering ground at a good clip. Blue Ace tried hard as did Commander, but neither could make any impact on Clinton as he galloped gallantly towards the winning post. Invictus surfaced from the rear and made a late dash beating all but the winner. Although Invictus ended close alongside the winner, Clinton won untroubled, showing clear superiority over his rivals. Most had assumed that the weight would stop him and the bookmakers quoted him at a very healthy 7 to 1. Clinton proved he is a genuine top class galloper and has seven career wins to his name from 13 outings. He has also won varying distances from seven furlongs to the mile and half trip. That’s versatility at its proven best.    

Saints N Sinners (Burden of Proof – Corsicana) showed ample zest at age seven as he not only took on younger rivals over a sharp scurry, but also landed the spoils fighting hard all the way. Pitbull showed good early speed in heading a speedy bunch with Edwina and Saints N Sinners galloping close behind. Emerald Star stuck to the rails and had So True, Dictator and Dreamliner breathing down his neck, with Augustus trailing by over two lengths at the turn.

Pitbull could not sustain as Edwina and Saints N Sinners got past him easily. The fight for supremacy got hotter when Saints N Sinners nosed past the fighting Edwina who was resisting strongly. However, Saints N Sinners, with Neeraj Rawal in the saddle dug deep and surged forward in the final furlong. Emerging Star then arrived at high speed but was far too late. Saints N Sinners was comfortably ahead and easily manage to ward off the late bid. Emerging Star however, did well to peg back Edwina close home for the second spot.

Romeo (Kingda Ka – Terre Blanch) became the first runner of his Sire Kingda Ka who stands at the Nanoli Stud Farm. Trained by B Prakash Romeo did go through anxious moments before finally forcing his way to a narrow victory thus playing a hand in the dual debut success – his own and that of his Sire.

Victory did not come by easily as the new batch of two-year-olds fought hard through the straight. Moto Bene lost ground at the start and Say When was detached from the tightly packed front bunch. Admiral Gray set off nicely to lead the field, with Striking Story, Play Fair, Romeo and Open Offer clustered together. As they turned for home, Admiral Gray was reluctant to surrender his slender lead. Romeo moved along the rails and the two Narredu students - Play Fair and Open Offer, progressed well to challenged the pair in front. The four were abreast with the winning post in sight and in a last

Ditch move, Imran Chisty drove Romeo vigorously from the inner railings to surge forward and snatch the neck verdict in the nick of time. Open Offer ended a close second while his stable mate managed to beat the long time leader Admiral Gray for the third spot.

Victoria Falls (Noverre – Husun) was the shortest priced runner on the day and justified the tall support she received. She won in the most clinical fashion and caused no anxiety whatsoever to those who ventured to back her.

Victoria Falls could not wait too long in the mid-bunch and jockey P Trevor guided her between horse to be up front coming into the straight. Once in the lead, the Shiraz Sunderji trainee streaked ahead like a seasoned campaigner to leave her hapless rivals far behind. She coasted to a seven-length plus victory with a touch of class. She looks a bright prospect and could go better over longer trips as well.  Brazil did well to beat Gran Amigo for the second spot.

Hail The King (Mathematician – Izwah) simply outclassed his rivals to score his second career win, his first in Pune. His was a bullish victory leaving no chance for any of his rivals including prime favourite Indication to even as much as raise a worthy challenge.

He took off at the bend and worked up a sizzling gallop to scorch the turf and leave them all panting to notch up an impressive three-length victory without toil. Only One improved towards the end to return a tame second. Santa Barbara kicked on to end a faraway third.

The Division I of the Noble Prince Trophy saw a thrilling dead-heat between hot favourite Mountain Prince and Jaipur Gem. Moutain Prince looked on course to victory when he came away from the pack and stretched out strongly approaching the distance post. The rest including Jaipur Gem looked under pressure, struggling to match up to the favourite. With under a furlong to go and as Mountain Prince was being hailed as the winner, Jaipur Gem warmed up to arrive with a strong run. She covered good ground briskly and hit the wire alongside Mountain Prince. The judges had to call for a photo print and still could not separate the two, forcing them to announce a dead-heat.

St Barts nearly pulled it off in the first race but failed to sustain his gallant effort all the way, missing out narrowly. Had he managed to keep it going for another couple of strides, he would have been through. That was not to be as tote favourite Ice Gate (Razeen – Chanteline) arrived with a timely run to clinch the issue close home. Song of Africa too finished on strongly, but failed to prevent Ice Gate from winning the race in a tight finish. Dashrath Singh brought Ice Gate alive in the latter half of the straight and the manner in which Ice Gate finished on, he could easily pick up another race this season.

In The Limelight (Emerald Cat – Sound of Silence) won the concluding event of the day without encountering serious threats. Up in front early, In The Limelight surged to dictate terms soon on turning for home. He quickly established a handy lead and marched on ahead to score his second victory this season. Last start winner Samay Balwan came from behind with a good finishing effort, but was far too late to trouble the winner.  Tote favourite Shabdeez too surfaced when all was over to take the third place.

For the professionals, trainer Hormuz Antia saddled a double, while jockeys Imran Chisty and P Trevor scored a double each.