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By Mahendra Mallya | 12 Oct 2013 | PUNE

Mr Munchi P. Shroff & trainer Dallas Todywalla leading Blue Ace (Ishwar Pardeshi Up), winner of The Indictment Trophy

Dallas Todywalla saddled Blue Ace (Ace Blue - Horizon) ably ridden by jockey Ishwar Pardeshi earned a hard fought victory to claim the Indictment Trophy posting his first victory on the Pune turf and fifth overall. The maiden victory on the Pune track was not easy to come by and Blue Ace was at his fighting best to carve out a narrow win.

Blue Ace started to inch forward from the second last spot from the 800 meter mark and was right up with the front bunch coming into the straight. He overhauled early leaders National Glory and Neath without too much effort, but had Cent Per Cent and Manyatta too close for comfort. Jockey Ishwar Perdeshi was focused and aggressive in his pushing Blue Ace to keep on going. Manyatta’s challenge petered out but Cent Per Cent looked threatening in the last fifty meters. Blue Ace didn’t let his guard own and held on battling grimly until the end to prevail by a half-length margin. Spirit of Mercy came flying from the dead last position to catch the eye while beating Manyatta for the third spot.

Champion Jockey A Sandesh was at his sizzling best on the Derby eve, riding home five winners from his six mounts for the day. Sandesh was cool, calculated, and confident, tackling his rivals with skill and strategy. He started the day on a winning note guiding Falco Nero (Haatef – Desert Grouse) to a well-judged victory. Sandesh dominated the latter half of the race card winning four of the last five races.

Sandesh rode a perfectly judged race astride Falco Nero. He had two stable-mates as rivals to beat with all three runners coming from Dallas Todywalla’s yard. Sandesh kept his mount in check and remained last of three as favourite Antonius Maximus shot out the gates seeking his fourth straight win. Swift Memories seemed in two minds whether to pick up the running or settle behind. Antonius Maximus dismissed that choice by himself going for the lead and set a friendly pace, noticeably slower than during his three previous victorious runs. They ran in a file and the action began on expectedly at the final turn.

Antonius Maximus surged ahead and Swift Memories looked to fight. She briefly stuck it out before surrendering to the inevitable. Falco Nero then started to gallop with a lot of steam and had plenty left to arrive all guns blazing. He shot past Antonius Maximus in a trice and sped away to score his third victory from five starts this season.

After the first race victory, Sandesh enjoyed a ‘lay-off’ until he got a leg up from Altaf Hussain in the fifth race. This time partnering favourite Mumbai King (Major Impact – Sunstreak).  Sandesh did his best to thrill the large following that Mumbai King garnered. He was quick at start and tagged behind Al Zamarud with Be Cool, Diamond Zip and Dancing Jenny a little away.

Al Zamarud quickened well and Mumbai King had to do the chasing. Be Cool changed lanes to make his bid from the outside. The final furlong saw a tough fight as Al Zamarud was resisting Mumbai King’s bid spiritedly. However, in the final 100 meters, Mumbai King forged ahead and win by a length. Be Cool ran on to pip Al Zamarud for the second place with Dancing Jenny warming up late to catch a place in the frame alongside Al Zamarud.

In the very next race, Sandesh did everything right to get Zoraavar (Ace – Lecce) out of a possible traffic jam and steer the Dallas Todywalla ward to a convincing victory. Settling right behind leader Divine Inspiration with Moon Shadow, favourite Swashbuckler, and Aigaion in close attendance, Zoraavar found himself behind the tiring Divine Inspiration and Moon Shadow. However, before Aigaion could make his move Sandesh pulled out Zoraavar and took off at good speed. For Zoraavar, the call came at the right time and he surged forward enthusiastically and worked up a lively finishing effort. He accelerated spiritedly to stay well ahead easily keeping One Wish at bay. Swashbuckler buckled under pressure and was a patch on his last zestful finish.

The most dramatic of finishes from Sandesh came in the NK PudumjieeTrophy for maiden three-year-olds. While Rajsamman and Four Star General carried the maximum betting money, Wiki Wiki was ignored in the betting. Well, rumour has it that smart money did come on Wiki Wiki closer to race time, however, the bookmakers quote still read over 10 to 1 until the last minute.

As the big field of fifteen jumped out of the gates, it was clear that Rajsamman, Four Star General and Wiki Wiki were the ones in the spotlight as they turned for home. Rajsamman, on a start to finish mission, led them into the straight and looked to be galloping comfortably ahead as compared to Four Star General who was under pressure when the heat was turned on. Wiki Wiki was seen making steady progress and catching up with the duo in front. Sandesh lit up his mount in the final furlong and came with a flourish to stun the fancied duo and run away to make a stylish, winning debut.  Rajsamman was twice unlucky to find one better in the dying moments of the race. Four Star General has been costing dearly to his backers and it is best to wait until he gets into groove. On the plus side for him, he was not as erratic as he previously was and that is a plus. However, he has still time to mature and is best given that time.

Sandesh was not done yet and he capped the day with another resounding victory bring his tally to five on the day, thereby consolidating his position to keep his date with the jockey championship for the season. Asahi (Burden of Proof – Appointed) reaped the benefits of a decent gamble as Asahi had a fairly large following.

Sandesh appeared calm and confident as he let Asahi do her own bit and settle down towards the rear end of the field. He then gradually got her going and improved to the front bunch at the turn. When Sydney took to the lead, Sandesh eased Asahi through the rails to quickly move alongside. Sydney was working hard to stay in contention, however, Asahi quickened too well and stretched away nicely. Moon Raker tried to chase down Asahi but the winner was just too good on the day. Asahi romped home to win comfortably and Moon Raker had to be content with the next slot. Sydney earned the place stakes.

Trainer Narendra Lagad’s Capitano (Major Impact – Trace of Magic) pulled of a breathtaking win and was lucky to survive a serious threat from old-timer Talk of the Town. Everything seemed going well for Capitano as he made a regulation run all the way into the straight, chasing leader Plan B and just ahead of Rein In Spain and Warrior Prince. Talk of the Time was with the second bunch, more than four lengths away as they swung into the straight.

Plan B proved a hard work to account for Capitano took a while getting past him. While Rein In Spain and Warrior toiled hard to stay in contention, Talk of the Town appeared on the scene with a cracking gallop. Capitano just managed to hang on to dear life as Talk of the Town’s assault was just not quick enough. It came a tad too late and Capitano survived a close call.

Naren nearly pulled off a treble with Flying Kiss, but as luck would have it, Speed Baby re-ran after she looked clearly beaten by Flying Kiss and managed to resurface and peg back flying Kiss.

Always Smile entered the straight with a good lead with Speed Baby hard at work to keep pace.  Flying Kiss rose from the ranks and was gaining ground with a sustained galloping. All looked well as Flying Kiss forged ahead past Speed Baby and Always Smile. Just under the shadow of the winning post however, Speed Baby emerged with a fiery gallop that was just enough to topple the favourite.

To The Moon (Emerald Cat – Well Versed) rewarded his backers richly as he put in a determined gallop in the straight to win beating Song of Africa in a keen tussle. Sea Pearl was in the thick of things until the final furlong before Song of Africa and To The Moon came alongside. Vaile Rouge too looked in with a chance, but ran out of steam. To The Moon produced an assertive gallop to win from Song of Africa close home.

For the professionals, certainly jockey A Sandesh stood out with his rich haul of five winners. Trainer Dallas saddled a treble and Naren a double. Jockey Ishwar Pardeshi too chipped in with a double.