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By Mahendra Mallya | 21 Sep 2014 | PUNE

Mr & Mrs K.N. Dhunjibhoy leading Zachary Winner of The S. A. Poonawalla Multi-Million (Gr.2)

The Poonawalla Multi-Million day had all the fanfare that the Poonawalla family offers year after year. A list of grand prizes topped by a car on offer certainly lifts the spirits and adds glitz to racing and racing patrons and non-regulars swell up the foot-falls at the Pune race course. The common man thrives on such a day and yet again one Mr YD Gaikwad, a face in the crowd rose to lime light by receiving the key of a new car as it turned out that the gentleman was only of the only four to have correctly predicted the first four placing of the big race.

Khhushroo Dhunjibhoy’s  three-year-old chestnut gelding Zachary (Kingda Ka – Yantai) bred at the Capricorn Stud, displayed plenty of speed and class to match while winning the SA Poonawalla Multi-Million (Gr2) literally unchallenged.

Royal Passion slipped into the lead soon on start and had Zachary and Zodiac on her tail. Flashing Chieftain settled in fourth a length ahead of Vision of Romance. Jack Frost, Rule Downunder and Shania followed them tamely all the way into the straight.

Royal Passion had barely turned for home and even before her jockey coaxed her to open throttle, Zachary was steaming off showing brilliant acceleration and within split seconds and bolted ahead and away from the rest.  Zachary showed powerful acceleration and outpaced the opposition with a dominant display. Jockey Zervan guided the Janardhan ward smoothly and once he settled in second once out of the gates, it was all smooth sailing. Zachary has certainly raised expectations and with this performance will surely be on the watch-list for the Nanoli Pune Derby line-up in October.

The Villoo Poonawalla Gold Trophy, the added attraction on the day, saw favourite Dreamz Unlimited a hard fought victory with Darren Williams riding hard to collar Joleene who had a handy lead approaching the distance post. Dreamz Unlimited started drift out under pressure while challenging the leader, however, Darren Williams was quick in getting the Altaf Hussain ward on even keel and the gelding surged ahead in front of the stands to romp home a clear winner. Joleene fought on to ward off Khaleefa to finish a good second. Khaleefa had his chances, but failed to raise challenging gallop.

Mint Approach (Ace – Endorsement, Exhilaration Stud) won a real cracker of a race to snatch a close verdict while winning the Mysore Race Club Trophy. Mint Approach moved quickly to second a shade behind Celsius with Rio alongside on the inside, Moon Shadow was on their tail and Mykonos tailing the field by about two lengths.

Mint Approach soon took charge and was quickening towards the winning post. Rio made a bid through the inner rails while Mykonos arrived a wee bit too late. Inside the final 100, Mint Approach was giving it all to counter serious attack from either side. In the end, Sandesh managed to keep Mint Approach ahead on the wire to pull off a real close one.

Haunting Moments (Placerville – Amber Windsor, Poona Stud) put up a gritty performance to down a stubbornly resistant Running Sun who gave a genuine scare to the backers of the favorite. Running Sun  led right from start and galloped gamely throughout.  He came into the straight with a handy lead and when Haunting Moments improved to second, she was expected to sail away from the friendless Running Sun, as her close rivals, Superlicious, Celtic King and Honest Pleasure all were not matching up in the straight. However, Running Sun stayed on ahead giving Haunting Moments a couple of anxious moments. Jockey Neeraj Rawal then dug deep and churn out that extra bit and Haunting Moments surfaced with renewed vigor to surge past Running Sun and post a well-fought win.

Exactly (Arabian Gulf – Lyrical Star, Manjri Stud) showed immense stamina and decent speed to conquer a second successive win with a good measure of comfort. Sword of Honour tried the runaway tactics but squandered a huge lead, unable to sustain after his long rein until the 800 m mark. Oxford looked good coming into the straight, but when Exactly produced her finishing run, Oxford looked pedestrian.  Exactly romped home in style to win by close to four lengths and show her domination over the longer trip.

The heavy-backed Starry Moment (Multidimensional – Star Perfection, Usha Stud) looked in a spot of bother soon after they entered the straight. Porto Banus who got alongside her, looked comfortable and his jockey had not opened him yet. However, Dashrath Singh atop the challenger Porto Banus found nothing extra when the push came to a shove. In contrast, apprentice Bhawani Singh got Starry Moment going and soon had her safely ahead of her only challenger to win sparing over a length at the wire.

The last two races saw trainer HJ Antia trainees come to the fore. Ice Zone (major Impact – Sunshiner, Manjri Stud) entrusted to SG Prasad and the lad jumped out of the gates in a flash to take over the running. Rubens set about in chase with favourite Romeo a close third.

Ice Zone showed no signs of relenting once they entered the stretch and kicked on gamely to stay well ahead of the rest. Rubens tried his best to make a fight of it, but never looked like toppling the leader. Ice Zone stretched out to win convincingly. Rubens had to fight all the way to manage to keep Halle from snatching the runner-up berth. Edith Piaf improved slightly to beat Romeo off the frame.

Ice Skates (Mr Mellon – Star Pride, Ruia Stud) kept rolling on to fight off a game challenge from top weight Incentio who put in a surprisingly tough fight and was unlucky not to have won the close encounter. Incentio and Ice Skates were involved in a long battle as Ice Skates came alongside the former soon on entering the straight. They match stride for stride all the way and only a stride or so earlier did Ice Skates manage to put his nose in front at the right time. It was indeed a royal battle and Antia’s Ice Skates, ridden by Bhawani Singh emerged tops. Favorite Dreamliner was not sighted and ended one off the frame. Basic Life kicked on to pick place money ahead of Pepe Senior.

For the professionals, trainer HJ Antia saddled a lucrative double, while apprentice jockey Bhawani Singh was the lone jockey to notch a brace.