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By Mahendra Mallya | 26 Dec 2013 | MUMBAI

Mr Ashok Ranpise & Mr Dinsha P. Shroff leading Dancing Prances (Dashrath Singh Up), winner of The A. Campbell Trophy

Dancing Prances (Ace – Dancing Greens), trained by Altaf Hussain and owned by Mr Ashok Ranpise, Sopher Racing Syndicate and Mr Dinsha Shroff glided to an easy victory as expected. The strongly built three-year-old chestnut gelding, easily among the better sprinters in the circuit, had it easy all the way as Hills and Heights did the initial running. Once into the straight, Dancing Prances took charge early and stormed ahead working up good pace without really firing on all cylinders. He cruised to the front, drifted out of focus of his rivals, and won easing up. Jockey Dashrath Singh couldn’t have asked for an easier ride. The only reason for the timing to be as much as 1:11:34 was that the winner didn’t need to step on it at any stage. He was on cruise mode all through. Port Blair ran on to finish a far-away second.

Trainer Nirad Karanjawala made his way back to the saddling enclosure last week after a long gap of about three years. He showed that the absence had not cowed him down as he saddled Vixen (Noverre – Dreaming Waters) to an impressive victory on debut. The Jaydev Mody owned dark bay filly, shot to the front outpacing the speedy First Glance in the early stages of the five-furlong scurry.  Aromatica, Ice Gate and Sultan of Swing were following close behind.  

Vixen quickened instantly on turning for home and within split seconds had darted ahead to build a handy lead. First Glance’s challenge petered out soon as Vixen galloped away further with each stride. Ice Gate ran on to take the second spot from his stable-mate, while Sultan of Swing ensured he stayed in the frame. Aromatica was the only one from the front-bunch to fall back at the finish.

“I can’t tell you how pleasing this victory is to me. In any sport, making a comeback is never easy. Just like in a race when your horse loses ground. I had lost considerable ground indeed. I thank Mr Jaydev Mody and all my owners for their support. I know it’s going to be a long toil ahead in reciprocating and vindicating their faith in me. A win on the Mahalaxmi track has its own charm. I am definitely feeling elated at this early success and this is just the kind of start I had imagined. I take this is a great morale-booster and the motivation to do well has set off with Vixen’s victory,” said Nirad, visibly jubilant at returning to lead-in his first winner on his comeback.  

Mykonos and apprentice jockey Mosin let down a large following. The prime fancy was taken to win the Director General of Police Trophy Div I after her good showing in Pune and her subsequent decent effort while running second to Dancing Prances in November, then finishing ahead of recent winner Indian Touch and Brindaban. With Dancing Prances scoring another facile victory a few races earlier, it seemed logical to expect Mykonos to deliver.

Gangnam Style had other ideas and his jockey Shrikant Kamble implemented them perfectly. In a scurry especially, one has to strike at the right moment and one cannot give an opponent too much leeway in the straight. Mosin didn’t seem to have kept a keen eye on his rivals’ moves and tactics and that proved fatal.

Invincible led the field into the homestretch and was soon chased down by Gangnam Style. Shrikant Kamble seized the moment and shot ahead going at a good clip. While the others were struggling to keep pace, Mosin didn’t look too busy. He tried to look for room inside of Capitano then changed his mind and switched to the outside. Mykonos then set off in chase but Gangnam Style by then had stolen a march. All Mykonos could do was narrow down the margin, ending just half a length behind the winner.  

The lower division of the above race was won in style by Emperor of France (Black Cash – Selerina’s Song). After a rather poor campaign at Pune, the Dallas Todywalla ward kept his good record in Mumbai intact. He notched his third win from four outings on this track with a good measure of comfort.

Rajsamman was on his usual start-to-finish mission and entered the straight about two lengths clear of Emperor of France and Intesar. Wiki Wiki was not too prominent at the turn. Emperor of France gathered fiery momentum approaching the distance post and flew past Rajsamman showing tremendous acceleration.  Once in the lead, he covered ground briskly to win convincingly. Intesar kicked on to beat Rajsamman for the runner-up berth. Stayin Alive did well to rally and end in the frame.

Janis Jay (Razeen – Grand Passion) scored a hard-fought victory. He was made to run every inch of the 2400 meter race to earn his second win of the season. Venus Marina led them all the way into the straight and packed up sooner than expected. Haunting Moments took charge momentarily, before Janis Jay and Snowing (the latter looked the pick in the paddock) started to mount their challenge. Haunting Moments was not one to give in easily and he stuck along giving off his best. The trio was involved in a grin battle and with 100 to go, it was still anybody’s race. Ryan Marshall was forceful and Janis Jay too was battling hard. In the end, Janis Jay, who was incidentally the tote favourite, prevailed narrowly. Snowing nosed out a gritty Haunting Moments for the second spot.

Don Corleone  (Tariq – Eubee) from Sanjay Kolse’s yard fired on the very first opportunity he got. He was out quick and was right on the tail of leaders Peppercorn and Full Moon, with Last Chance alongside. Favourite Legend of the Seas was not too far behind, while Double O Seven was never prominent after faltering at the start.

Don Corleone accelerated extremely well and bounded forward to get past Peppercorn with ease. Last Chance began to cover ground and was lurking around seeking to tackle the new leader. Full Moon too was rallying along between horses. However, Don Corleone quickened further in the final furlong to draw away and post an impressive debut win. Full Moon finished on well to pip Last Chance for the runner-up slot. Legend of the Seas improved slightly to end in the frame.

Trainer Hormuz Antia was the lone pro to score a double. Both his victories were thrilling and won close home. He first saddled Yardstick to a half length victory with rookie SG Prasad in the saddle doing a good job of warding off live threats in a keenly contested finish.

After doing all the good work with a quick start, Yardstick was galloping determinedly towards the winning post. Showers of Heaven and Prince were snapping at his tail when Dark William joined them. Dark William then launched an all out attack but Yardstick help on to win narrowly. Showers of Heaven fought back to snatch the third spot from Prince who too ran a good race.

Antia’s Warrior Prince (Major Impact – Ghazwat) spoilt the party of Blue Bay who was on course to provide an encore. Blue Bay outpaced favourite Silsila for the early lead and led the field into the straight. He galloped on gamely and looked on course to victory when Warrior Prince mounted his challenge. A neck and neck battle followed. Warrior Prince got stronger at the finish and put his neck in front at the wire. Wind Craft ran on to end a good third.

Laurus Tikati (Placerville – Singita) finally scored a maiden victory with the skin of his teeth. Traffic Jam looked good as he led into the straight and galloped at a good clip. Laurus Tikati set about to chase down the leader and with a furlong to go, Traffic Jam seemed well in control. In the final 100 meters, Amyn Merchant rode out vigourously to charge at Traffic Jam. The pair flew past the winning post locked together. It took a while for the judges to declare Laurus Tikati the winner. Favourite Jen’s Glory ran on to beat Double or Quits for the third place.