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By Mahendra Mallya | 27 Oct 2013 | PUNE

Trainer M Narredu leading Be Safe (B Sreekanth Up), winner of The Connolly's Red Mills Million

The concluding day of the Pune Season 2013 was an eventful day. The Racing Awards and the RWITC’s own awards for the Champions interspersed with the races making the paddock the hub of activity off the track. The finale was a touching one as jockey C Rajendra announced his retirement. He was felicitated by Mr KN Dhunjibhoy Chairman, RWITC along with a group of jockeys, who later persuaded Rajendra to take a walk around the paddock. The reception Rajendra received was befitting a champion jockey as the crowd reached out for a handshake and were cheering him and wishing him well for the future. Rajendra was choked with emotion and barely managed to voice his gratitude to all those who had helped him along the way to achieve his riding glory.

On the track, two-year-old Be Safe (Holy Roman Emperor – Oriental Lady) made an impressive debut winning the Connolly’s Red Mills Million in a clinical manner. Be Safe looked the part in the paddock and Malesh had him tuned for the race. Star the other fancied runner in comparison looked gross yet showed enough to keep her in mind when she wears her racing gear next. Al Shamsheer was run off his feet in the early part of the race, but came up with a good stretch run to indicate that he will relish the longer trip and the Mahalaxmi straight would suit his style.

Dr MAM Ramaswamy owned Be Safe was out quick and up in front alongside Star. Jockey B Sreekanth surged ahead soon on turning for home and piled up a handy lead. Ravello too ran a good race while chasing Be Safe. He found one better and for a first run, his effort was not a bad one. Al Shamsheer came up late and he had to cover some early deficit, yet he made it to place money. Star was clearly short on fitness and needed this run. Be Safe was obviously the most impressive and he will improve further to add to his debut win.

Sharaarat (Ace – Shamaal) is blessed with speed and the Dallas Todywalla trained filly owned by Dr Tarita Shankar & Chetan Wakalkar ran to potential to ward off a fast finishing Monza. At the top of the straight, National Glory was losing out to Sharaarat and Hawaiian Princess who pounced on his lead. Monza made his bid from the inner rails, while Déjà vu was not finding his gears and made no impact.

Sharaarat with A Sandesh astride made most of it as they darted in front accelerating the moment they got the clearance. Hawaiian Princess stuck alongside throwing a lively challenge. Monza made rapid progress along the rails but Sharaarat went aggressively all the way to hold on by a neck to Monza. Hawaiian Princess and Déjà vu completed the frame.

Dallas had led in Jaydev Mody’s Negotiator (Steinbeck – Romantic Liaison) a race earlier. Negotiator was attempting the 2000 m trip for the first time and the fact that he was carrying the top weight fetched lucrative odds on Negotiator. Asahi garnered top billing as she too was a last start winner and Moon Raker who had finished second to Asahi had promptly won his next race on Saturday.

Jen’s Glory led all the way until the turn and Negotiator who was second most of the time, inched closer to lead them into the straight. Once in, Negotiator sailed smoothly ahead and amassed a huge lead. Asahi simply could not match up to the brilliance Negotiator showed and was never in contention once Negotiator took charge. Savage Garden moved from the rear to gain ground. He did well to end second ahead of Asahi.

Rehanullah khan made up for Asahi’s loss with a resounding win with his ward Highlander (Ivory Touch – Happy Queen). Highlander had shown in his last start that he would do better over the longer trip by finishing a decent third, coming off the pace in doing so. True to that run, Highlander took on his rivals with complete authority and dominated the final 100 meters, winning the race with absolute ease. He was way off the pace through the backstretch as Dixie Delight set the tone for the mile and quarter race. Favourite Reynolds settled in fourth until the turn. Snowing led briefly as they straightened for home, but was soon accosted by Highlander. The Nazir Shaikh owned gelding bounded forward drawing away to win by a comfortable margin. Snowing held on to the runner up berth ahead of Reynolds, who made little impact on the winner.

Mr & Mrs Shapoor Mistry’s Quick Fire (Phoenix Tower – Star Qualities)from Cooji Katrak’s yard,  lived up to her looks and her name and returned triumphant on her debut. She capitalized on a quick start as she along with Scarlet Of Hope were way ahead of the other runners. Jockey Kamlesh atop Quick Fire left Scarlet of Hope behind soon on turning for home and galloped resolutely to seal the outcome of the race as early as in the first half of the homestretch. Arch Duchess had no chance but to surrender much earlier than expected and the favourite ended a good three and half lengths behind the winner. Quick Fire has displayed quality speed and will surely make her presence felt during the Mumbai season.

Ace Angelfire (Haatef – Offshore Anna) produced a fiery gallop when it mattered most to pull off a timely victory to end the season on a winning note. Celsius was the quickest out and hit the front instantly as he is known to do. Intesar jumped level but was a tad slow to get into the stride. Celsius was closely followed by Bourbon Street with Emperor of France alongside, Ace Angelfire ran behind them along the inside rails. Intesar hurried to make up lost ground and soon caught up with the front bunch as they took the turn. Celsius galloped on in the straight and thwarted two serious bids that came from Bourbon Street and Intesar early in the straight and held them at bay. Jockey Neeraj Rawal switched Ace Angelfire to the outside of the trio in front and made a sustained bid, galloping on the centre of the track. She picked up momentum in the last fifty meters to just managed to pass Celsius a stride or two from the winning post.

Neeraj Rawal had earlier in the day set about another similar chase over a much longer trip to overwhelm hot favourite Woven Dreams with his mount Yodha Shakti (Sedgefield – Maugisa), owned and trained by Magan Singh Jodha. Neeraj then had settled Yodha Shakti last of four with Word of Honour, Woven Dreams and Bonobo in front.

Word Of Honour faded out after showing the way to Woven Dreams into the straight. Woven Dreams never looked safe even though he was a couple of lengths ahead in the straight. Yodha Shakti improved gradually and was getting closer to Woven Dreams with every stride. Woven Dreams battled hard but in the final 100 meters, Yodha Shakti had a lot more to offer and he eventually got past Woven Dreams to win by a length. Both Word of Honour and Bonobo were completely outrun.

Archie (Muhtathir – Elouana) showed that he is back in top form as he scored a clean as a whistle victory, his second, but a long pending one. He had had his share of problems after his debut win and was running first time after being gelded. He put this and his blood vessel troubles behind a notch up a fashionable victory to the delight of his connections and his backers.

Last start facile winner Domingo used the same start to finish tactics that had fetched him rich rewards in his last run and assumed command soon at start. He did not do too badly as he led them all into the straight and only the brilliant Archie could get the better of him. Archie waited in fourth and progressed along the rails to pass New World and Sherlock Holmes on his way into the straight. He had no trouble in getting past Domingo and once ahead, he strengthened his finish to draw away and compile a neat two-and-half length victory. Archie’s win was an effortless one and he is surely going to stretch his winning form over at Mumbai.

Autumn Rush (Viking Ruler – Rihla) galloped to her second victory this season putting in a terrific run the homestretch. Albuurz, Ainra and Colourful Prince were abreast as they turned for home with Capitano and Yellowzone close behind. Autumn Rush took the turn wide and soon started to pick up momentum. At this stage, near 300 meters, Yellowzone was squeezed between Autumn Rush and Colourful Prince and clipped and fell. Autumn Rush was at full throttle and he whizzed past the runners to leave them stranded. He won with a good margin and in quick time too. Capitano ran well to beat the rest. Astromia progressed to pip Ainra for place money.

Speed Baby (Gaswar – Boreal) showed that her last victory was no fluke as she displayed good speed to win again in a close finish. Double Diamond and Tropical Zone entered the straight together and soon the former sped ahead to grab the lead. Speed Baby by then had improved to third and jockey Prabhu Naidu began to mount his challenge. Double diamond resisted strongly and the pair fought out the final furlong. The others were not within reach with Bella Figura running into the third position. Speed Baby got past Double Diamond in the last few meters to score narrowly.

The Season’s Champions were awarded their trophies by Mr KN Dhunjibhoy. Following is the list of the winners.

Leading Owners – Mr Rakesh Kumar Wadhawan

Champion Trainer – Dallas Todywalla

Champion Jockey – A Sandesh

Champion Jockey Claiming Allowance - S Mosin

Champion Apprentice jockey – S Mosin

Leading Stud Farm – Poonawalla Stud Farm

Leading Bookmaker (Pune)-  M’s Latif Associates   

Leading Bookmaker (Mumbai) – Banarsi Das