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By Mahendra Mallya | 06 Sep 2014 | PUNE

Trainer P Shroff leading Storming Home (S Zervan Up), winner of The Omkar Million

Saturday proved to be a landmark day for the RWITC with the day’s sponsors, Omkar Realtors & Developers Pvt Ltd, coming on board as the Sponsor for the Indian Turf Invitation Cup which will be held in Mumbai in Mach 2015. The Chairman of the RWITC Mr Vivek Jain and Mr Devang Varma, Director, Omkar Realtors signed the sponsorship agreement on the presentation podium immediately after the Trophy presentation of the Omkar Million race.

“We are extremely pleased to welcome the Omkar Group as sponsors of the Turf Invitation Cup which is hosted by the RWITC this time. The Invitation Cup is one of the most important races in the Indian racing calendar and we highly appreciate the contribution and welcome the Omkar Group for recognizing the value and  agreeing in associating with this racing extravaganza,” said Mr Vivek Jain. Soon after the agreements was signed, both parties celebrated by popping the bubbly and cutting a cake on the podium. This is another feather in the cap for the Marketing committee in their success in constantly bringing in newer sponsors to the sport.

Dr Vijay Mallya, the biggest sponsor in racing, had something to cheer about as his gelding Storming Home (Burden of Proof – Quiet Storm) bred by the United Racing & Bloodstock Breeders Ltd, at his own Kunigal Stud Farm, literally stormed home in a dramatic fashion to spank his rivals and clinch the Omkar Million, the feature race of the day. Storming Home, trained by Pesi Shroff, turned it inside out as he strode in from the rear most to collar the hopefuls in front and simple trounce them in the final 100 meters.

Fribourg looked well in command as he led all the way into the straight and was still travelling well even after skirting the bend. At that point, with about 400 to go, Storming Home was at the tail end stuck on the rails with a wall of horses in front. Few would have given him a good chance from there. Zervan swung into action at this point and weaved his way through horses and finally appeared on the widest outside. Once he had a clear turf ahead, Storming Home picked up speed and his final finishing gallop was blinding. Fribourg, who had a handy lead coming into the final furlong, was still going well, not slowing down or shortening his strides, but Storming Home’s blazing dash did him in. While Storming Home grabbed the spotlight, Tap Dance slipped in with an impressive finish too and he pegged back Fribourg to snatch the runner up spot finishing on the haunches of the winner.

Full Moon (Mull of Kintyre – Moonstorm) bred by the Five Star Shipping and Mr Byram Jeejeebhoy at the Capricorn Stud, evolved to ward off a serious challenge from Hidden Asset to accelerate and pull away in the latter half of the homestretch. Full Moon and Hidden Asset kept each other company right from the start. Ainra and Double O Seven were not too far behind in a bunch with the others, while Honeymoon and Advance to Contact stayed in the rear.

Hidden Asset came alongside Full Moon and was asking questions.  They were neck to neck for a couple of strides. Full Moon then shifted gears and started to quicken further and launched a final assault that paled the challenge of Hidden Asset.  Rehanullah Khan trained Full Moon strode out impressively to run away with the Dancing Dynamite Trophy in style. Both Honeymoon and Advance to Contact did improve positions and it may be worth to watch their progress.

Two maidens made their mark winning the first race of their career in the two divisions of the Pune Cantonment Board Trophy. The upper division was clinched by Narendra Lagad ward and top favourite Valentino (Kingda Ka – Hazel Morgan), bred by the Shirkes, Five Star Shipping and Mr Berjis Minoo Desai at the Capricorn Stud. Valentino ridden by DK Ashish, simply trounced the opposition to score a brilliant victory without having to toil for it. He hit the front and kept a good momentum going all through. After turning for home, he got even faster and better to draw away from the rest and win with ease. Something Special and Flanker had no chance of even thinking of mounting a worthwhile challenge and had to settle for the minor placing.

In the lower division, favourite Fibonacci Sequence dropped the rider and bolted and was subsequently withdrawn. Altaf Hussain’s Senor D (Phoenix Tower Salawati, Manjri Stud) produced an electrifying run to earn his first win in his third start. He too opted to hit the front and make them all chase him down. None succeeded!

Senor D and had S Sunil on board and they took off to lead from the word go. Loveable Locks followed the leader closely with Super Icon and the well-backed Shivalik Skies lurking behind. As they straightened up for home, Senor D quickened well and built a handy lead approaching the distance post. Lovable Locks tried to post a worthy challenge and even got a bit closer. But Senor D had got into a fine rhythm and never dropped his momentum to gallop all the way keeping Lovable Locks at a safe distance. Cool Running caught the eye with a good final surge and he ended a close third. Super Icon showed a bit of spark at the turn, but could not build on that. Shivalik Skies did little of consequence and would need time.

Faisal Abbas trained Celsius (Emerald Cat – Savoy, Capricorn Stud) came good over his optimum trip and rose to the challenge when Brynhill threatened to topple his lead. He sped out of the gates and led them all towards the home turn.  Into the straight, Celsius, with the forceful CS Jodha on board, stepped on it but soon had to counter the challenge that came from favourite Brynhill. The duo battled hard and matched stride for stride with Brynhill coming abreast inside the final furlong. The ding-dong battle that ensued was nerve-wrecking, but in the final couple of strides, Celsius showed more courage and grit to quell the challenger out by half length. Sea Treasure ended a faraway third.

Fortune Hunter (Placerville – Only For Gold, Greenfield Farms) produced a lively finish to force the pace and score a decisive win with Kavraj Singh in the saddle doing a good job of carrying the top weight judiciously to victory.

Running Sun and Samay Balwan were the joint leaders as they turned for the business end of the race. At the start, Petite Fleur jumped out awkwardly and lost a couple of lengths.

Sandeep Manglorkar’s Fortune Hunter who was up close with the leaders positioning himself on the rails, made the switch of lanes soon on turning for home. He quickened nicely to surge past the front running pair and soon tore away into the lead. Home Advantage and Halle were in a good position to try and get to Fortune Hunter. However, Kavraj Singh had made the right move at the right time and carried the fiery momentum all the way to win easing up.  Home Advantage ended a gallant second, right on the tail of the winner. Halle did well to end in the money.  Favourite Zidaan had his first off day of the season and finished one off the frame behind Wings of Glory. Wings of Glory improved positions, despite receiving a check or two, and did well coming in from the last to finish in the top four.

Ace Fantasy (Ace – Forest Fantasy, Poonawalla Stud Farm) trained by Imtiaz Sait, brought about his maiden victory with Darren Williams in the saddle.  Bottom weight Zafirah led the field for most part of the 2400 meter journey before Morals took the baton turning for home. Soon Ace Fantasy came and surged past Morals to take charge early in the straight. Once in the lead, Ace Fantasy looked home and dry as neither Morals nor Plated looked menacing and Ace Fantasy ambled away to victory comfortably.

Casino Jack (Danehill Star – Sacristia, Galloping Acres Farm) after putting in two reasonably good performances in his last two outings, finally found his touch and landed the spoils and at lucrative odds. As the trends showed, it was anybody’s race with Hot Pepper the tote favourite available at fours.

Bonobo led the field into the straight with Hot Pepper ready to pounce on the leader. He did and surged ahead shaping well on his way. But Hot Pepper began to drift out alarmingly and that cut his chances down overwhelmingly. Casino Jack arrived with a spirited run and went past Bonobo in a flash. Once he took charge, he looked the clear winner and he stayed in charge all the way to clinch a two length victory for his master Hosidar Daji. Seven Seas ran on to end second, but Arusha was the one to cover a lot of ground to end a notable third. Arusha was languishing in the rear for most part of the race, and once she woke up, she produced a lively run and begs to be noted in her next outing.

For the professionals, jockey CS Jodha was the lone professional to score a double.