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By Mahendra Mallya | 25 Jul 2014 | PUNE

Mr & Mrs Masoom Master leading Spades (Trevor Patel Up), winner of The Amorous Knight Trophy

Fancied horses came to the fore yet again amidst an intriguing switch between light rains and bright sunlight on day two of the Pune Season. Spades, who had found her debut run in Mumbai a shade too sharp, opened his account with a fine run to clinch the Amourous Knight Trophy in style. Jockey Dashrath Singh was the most successful pro on the day, picking up three winners, all of whom were prominent in the betting.

Spades (Ace – Nora) got off to a quick start and then settled in second allowing Pepito to call the early shots. Simply Divine kept a close watch on the two in front and was never too far from the thick of action.

Pepito led them into the straight, but had no answer when Spades got alongside to mount his challenge. Spades encountered no resistance from the favorite, and Trevor went past to take charge, Spades picking up the momentum in a trice. Simply Divine tried her best but just could not match up to Spades and had to be contended with the runner-up berth. Spades dominated the final furlong and his maiden victory was pretty convincing.

It was a good day for Dashrath Singh as began with guiding Trance to her second career victory, the first one coming way back in her debut season on her second run in Mumbai 2012-13.

Trance (Phoenix Tower – Gobelin) emerged out of a string of under par performances to come alive with a spirited stretch-run to floor the opposition with a powerful finish. Biding her time in the mid bunch, Trance seemed in no hurry as Halle led the field with Oriental Rocky improving to second at the turn after Quest For Love faded out after leading them until the bend.  

Halle put in a determined effort and fought hard to stay in contention even as Oriental Rocky was putting up a stiff challenge. Youre The Boss and Running Sun labored without any success. Trance weaved her way through horses and pounced on the fighting duo to zip away in the final 100 meters to romp home a convincing winner. Oriental Rocky fought hard to end runner-up just a length ahead of Halle. Shygirl completed the frame passively, without making much impact on the front finishers.

Dashrath next partnered favorite Samay Balwan (Inhabitant – Golden Collection) from Narendra Lagad’s yard. He had it easy alright as Samay Balwan posted an authoritative victory, on his own terms. Dashrath settled Samay Balwan in the third position behind Mighty Splendor and Queen until past the 600 meter mark. Samay Balwan took charge at the turn and entered the straight with a two length lead. Dashrath had little to do as the bay gelding surged forward in fine rhythm, accelerating very well to stretch out majestically and leave the rest far behind. Samay Balwan dropped no sweat as he cantered away to post an impressive win. Queen ended chasing the leader, but had to work hard to retain the runner-up spot warding off a determined finish from Star Builder. Double or Quits ran on to figure in the frame.

Brindaban (Placercille- Yutai) showed tremendous acceleration in the final stages to snatch the verdict in close to the winning post, but his finishing dash was something to write about. The fast and furious bunch of Celsius, Deep Diver, Brynhill and Brindaban dominated in the front. In The Limelight and favorite Invincible could not match with the dazzling speed.

Into the straight, Deep Diver went all out trying to home in on the early advantage and with Brynhill not making much impression on him, Deep Diver was encouraged to put in a hard effort. Brindaban, ridden by apprentice Sandeep Jadhav, switched lanes to steer clear of the horses in front and launched a scorching attack on Deep Diver. He caught up with Deep Diver meters from the winning post and surged ahead in front of the Grand Stands to score an eye-catching win. Dictator put in a spirited gallop to pip the long time leader Deep Diver on the post and snatch the second spot. Saints N Sinners caught the eye too, as he was the one to progress most in the straight. The eight year old came from the last position and did extremely well to end in the frame, not too far from the winner.

Royal Passion (Sedgefield – Wonder Wings) from trainer Adhirajsingh Jodha was well ridden by jockey Kavraj Singh to post his first win in Pune and his third in five starts. Royal Passion was up with the pace improving to be second behind front running Dhanyavaad all the way into the straight. On entering the straight, Kavraj Singh wasted no time in pushing Royal Passion ahead and the chestnut filly responded with a fluent gallop to stretch out and away from Merchantofveniece, who may have needed the run. Fire Engine made alarming progress, coming right from the dead to end in the money. Over a longer trip, Fire Engine may be a force to reckon with. Zenofic disappointed and made no impact on the race.

Hot favorite Seven Seas (Placerville – Ramada) was made to earn his victory and Star was the only one o troubled him most. Wind And Stars made all the early running but then the wind went out of her sails when push came to a shove. Star Gazing and Seven Seas, the latter rising from some distance behind, synced their final run to precision.  Star Gazer shot in front with a furlong to go and put in a lively run. Seven Seas too got down to business and replied strongly. The pair pulled away from the other runners and fought out every inch of the final furlong. Dashrath Singh’s strong handling tilted the fortunes and Seven Seas prevailed by a narrow margin.

Superlicious (Placerville – Betfair) punched home the rail advantage and took maximum rewards on the lucky opening she found on the rails. Scarlet of Hope led them in with Earth Tamer and El Wonder in tow. Great Expectation was just behind with Superlicious slipping in through the rails.

On straightening up, Scarlet of Hope shifted a trifle and that was enough for jockey Sandeep Jadhav to forge through. Superlicious responded gamely and within strides was out of reach of his opponents. Earth Tamer kept the momentum going and held on to the second slot. Great Expectation ended a tame third.

Cut Diamond cut a lot of holes in the punters’ pockets and the heavily backed favorite gave nothing to her followers to even shout about. She was there up with the front bunch but failed to capitalize on it. Sunshine Heart sailed into the lead past Light of Arabia soon on turning for home. Lucky Charm was just beginning to make his bid but he drifted out badly losing all his chances. Ceasarina got caught trying to slip through the rails and had to check more than once. Sunshine Heart drifted in slightly and that gave cause for complaint as Ceasarina’s jockey Daman lodge an objection, which didn’t hold any water with the stewards. Sunshine Heart prevailed and Ceasarina ended second with Lucky Charm close on her heels.

Glorious Crown won the day’s first race in a thrilling finish involving Annabeth, setting the tone for the day. Admiral Gray dislodged the rider and was running lose up in front when Amber Lady led the field into the straight. Glorious Crown set about chasing down the lady and Annabeth, who was perched close behind, started to zero in on the pair in front. Jockey Kavraj Singh gave his all and managed to zip past Amber Lady. With the winning post in sight, Annabeth was drawing too close for comfort, but a determined bid from Kavraj ensured that Glorious Crown’s good work paid off and she nosed the wire just in time to draw first blood.   

For the professionals, trainer Narendra Lagad saddled a double, while Jockey Dashrath Singh rode home three winners. Jockeys Kavraj Singh and Sandeep Jadhav scored a double each as well.