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By Mahendra Mallya | 23 Aug 2014 | PUNE

Trainer Faisal A Abbas leading Dreamland (G Amit Up), winner of The Star Millionaire Plate

The compact card of seven events on Saturday saw the fancied lot come through as four firm favourites cashed in handsomely, Janis Jay obliged at nourishing odds (3/1) and was very much in the ‘betting zone’, while Dreamland was not exactly friendless (7/1). The only exception was Narendra Lagad’s Al Shamsheer who thrived on his start-to-finish mission and returning a fat payout at the totes.

The feature of the day – The Zurbaran Trophy, was claimed by Bezan Chenoy trainee Fortuna (Multidimensional – Almarina) who was the overwhelming favourite in the field of twelve. As the gates flung open, Chlobud whipped around and took no serious part in the race.

Himalayan Dancer was quick to take charge and had Flanker tracking him down with Elaheh and Secret Oath close behind. Fortuna was even further behind with the rest of the bunch, fair distance away from the front, considering they were going over the scurry.

The leads changed quickly as Flanker took over soon at the turn and he in turn was measured up when Elaheh decided to make a run for it. Jockey NS Parmar then produced Fortuna from the wider outside and he had to make up reasonable ground as Elaheh had surged ahead. Fortuna warmed up nicely approaching the distance post and produced a fiery finishing gallop to storm past Elaheh to clinch the race with a measure of comfort. The scurry certainly was sharp for Fortuna and she is sure to do well over longer distances as well. Elaheh found one far better, but she did well to finish runner up. Secret Oath put in a good effort to finish in the money.

Janis Jay (Razeen – Grand Passion) showed tremendous improvement over her last run and blazed away taking full advantage of the light weight in the saddle. The odds on Mint Approach doubled at race time. As per the trend, Mint Approach after initially leading for the most part of the race, faded away even before they straightened up for home to end a dismal last.

Janis Jay took charge entering the homestretch and galloped away powerfully to build a handy lead. She was steaming in into the final furlong when Sailor started to warm up. Sailor could only wrest the runner-up berth from Celtic King as Janis Jay proved too good on the day.

Dreamland (Diffident – Vindication) is enjoying a dream run as he scored his third successive victory in as many starts this season. Entrusted to apprentice jockey G Amit, Dreamland hit the front soon on start and galloped at a crisp pace. Tailing him were Pitbull and Wind Craft, Alecto and Song of Africa as Sheer Romance and Warrior Prince bowed out early.

Dreamland entered the straight with a slender lead and Song of Africa along with Alecto were snapping at his tail. Young Amit showed a lot of grit and determination, riding his heart out to keep the dual attack at bay. He succeeded in keeping Dreamland charged up all the way to the winning post, warding off the challengers skilfully. Song of Africa nosed out Alecto for the runner-up berth.  

The Myth (Dancing Forever – Iles Piece) cantered to an impressive win encountering no challenge whatsoever from any rival. He settled in third behind Copperglow and Zafirah until the bend and came into his own in the straight. He galloped away powerfully with apprentice jockey Yash Narredu having to do much. Within strides The Myth was out of reach as the rest were spent and outclassed. The Myth piled up a huge lead and looked the winner long way from home. Morals ran on to end second ahead of Plated the latter doing well to finish in the money.

Trainer Narendra Lagad was the lone pro to saddle a double on the day. He picked up the first and the sixth races of the day, the second one, his known bombshell that left the pundits confounded. He started with the well-supported Flying Kiss (Major Impact – Kiss of Luck) whose odds rose at race time as Answer My Prayer’s found solid last minute backing.

Flying Kiss, ridden by the fast improving apprentice DS Daman, settled in the mid-bunch until the turn, following Glorious Crown, Pune Warriors and Donata into the straight. Glorious Crown surged ahead into the straight and Flying Kiss set about in chase. Daman caught up with the leader midway in the straight and rode his heart out to get Flying Kiss going. The six-year-old mare responded gamely and collared Glorious Crown to clinch the issue a few strides from the winning post. Glorious Crown was a game second, fighting all the way. Mighty Splendor made considerable progress through the rails and ended close to the two in front.

Naren’s ‘take-jump-hit-front’ formula spelled doom for the large number of followers of favourite Zabisco as his ward Al Shamsheer (Yeats – Prize Magic) took off and held his own all the way home. Al Shamsheer had a handy lead as they turned for home with Zabisco ready to make his challenge. Zabisco started to accelerate, but Al Shamsheer showed no sign of weakening as was expected. The three-year-old gelding got even stronger in the hands of jockey Darren Williams and kept the momentum going all the way through to pull of sensational upset. For Zabisco, this was another runner-up slot in his second outing, but he may have needed this run. He looks a good type and should be given another chance. This run would surely strip him fitter, and it would pay to persist with Zabisco.

Zachary (Kingda Ka – Yantai) brought about his maiden win in a composed manner showing appreciable improvement over his debut third in Mumbai. The well-backed favourite ambled away to notch up a stylish win leaving Personify panting for breath in trying to catch up. Jockey Akshay rode a perfect race, settling the Janardhan ward up in the front bunch, letting Allegiance and Star Prince show him the way. However, at the turn, Akshay guided Zachary to the front and the chestnut three year old sailed into the lead on cruise mode. He quickly built up a handsome lead. Personify got past a tiring Zurich and aspired to become the challenger, however, though jockey Sandesh gave it his all, Personify simply could not make any impact on Zachary. The winner was striding freely and won without an iota of pressure. He is certain to add to his tally sooner than later.