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By Mahendra Mallya | 04 Oct 2014 | PUNE

Trainer Mansoor Shah leading Centaurus (S J Sunil Up), winner of The Motilal Gopaldas Mathurawala Gold Trophy

Favourites took a beating on Saturday’s races at Pune as only two obliged in the day’s card of seven races. The biggest surprise came in the day’s feature event, the Motilal Gopaldas Mathurawala Gold Trophy when Mls Haresh & Manav Mehta’s Centaurus (Virtual – Caressed, Bhaktawar Stud) romped home keeping tote favourite Malkia at bay.

Centaurus trained by Mansoor Shah settled in the third spot behind early leader Armel and Legend of the Seas right until the turn. Malkia was closer to the rear end of the bunch, but made steady progress past the 800 to be in the proximity of the front runners at the turn.

Centaurus quickened well on turning for home and sailed into the lead past Legend of the Seas. Armel faded out long before the turn. Malkis improved to third and was shaping up reasonably well. However, Centaurus, partnered by apprentice SJSunil booted home the feather weight advantage and stretched out nicely to stay well ahead in the final furlong. Malkia accelerated and was surely gaining ground, but had too much to do and with Centaurus showing no sign of tiring, Malkia had no chance of toppling Centaurus. Malkia however, ended narrowing down the margin, keeping it to just over a length. While Centaurus won readily, Malkia’s effort was a good one considering the fact that she was carrying the top weight (60 kg) and was giving a good chunk of weight to Centaurus who was carrying 47.5 over the mile trip.

Tinogona (Chevallier – Outtostealthescene, Ruia Stud) showed great improvement over his last close third to Frankanella and this time got the better of favourite Simply Divine to win the October Handicap impressively. He took off well from the gates and then settled behind Simply Divine and Fast Lady all the way into the straight. Super Icon went miles wide approaching the turn and lost all chances. Simply Divine and Fast Lady battled the moment they entered the straight, Tinogona was a couple of lengths behind them. It was at the distance post that Tinogona shifted gears and picked up momentum and once he started to quicken, he surged past the fighting duo with ease to post a very comfortable win. Simply Divine went all out and managed to peg back Fast Lady to snatch the runner-up slot. Both Loganno and National Gold made headway in the straight to finish close alongside the runner up in a cluster finish for the minor slots.

Trainer Pesi Shroff sent out two winners and for a change both his wards were at nourishing odds. Kazuri, racing first time in Pune and after a lay-off (she last raced in February), looked fit for the fray in the paddock. She was the first favourite though but at 3/1.

But for Habibians the rest broke off well from the gates and Quick Fire matched strides with Ice Age for the early initiative. Ice Age won the battle for the early lead and Quick Fire dropped to second with Ainra moving quickly to be in the thick of things. Kazuri was in the mid-bunch and was staying out of the cluster of horses.

On entering the straight, Ainra took charge and was soon challenged by Incentio. Quick Fire was looking for room, but even when he got a gap, he failed to speed up. Kazuri arrived with a good run from the outside. Trevor had his mounting going full of steam and within strides Kazuri zipped past them all and steered clear to win drawing away. Umarkot came from a long way back to seize the runner-up slot and his finish caught the eye. Incentio edged out Ainra for place money.

Shroff’s Mine Forever (Placerville – You Are The One, Villoo’s Greenfield Stud) was at even better odds (9/2) as An Jolie was installed the prime favourite on the strength of her solitary win in Mumbai and the recent good showing in a mock race.  However, Mine Forever pulled off a successful start-to-finish victory and looked good right through the race.

Mine Forever shot into the lead soon on start and went at a good pace. The race turned to a boil in the straight as Stiletto started to cover ground briskly. An Jolie was not in the best of positions in the first half of the race, but improved to third on turning for home. Mine Forever was fighting off a determined bid from Stiletto past the distance post. Stiletto looked threatening at one stage, but Akshay atop Mine Forever seemed confident as he rode out Mine Forever calmly. An Jolie was covering ground too, but seemed a tad rusty and may have needed this run. Mine Forever held on to win from Stiletto and An Jolie ended close third. An Jolie was tackling a class III set first time and the fact that she last raced in April may have been the reason for her not obliging. However, she didn’t do too badly and this run is sure to sharpen her up. Keep an eye on An Jolie in her next.   

Trainer Mansoor Shah and apprentice S.J.Sunil picked up their double in the very next race after scoring in the feature. Nirbhaya (Mull of Kintyre-Classical Elegance, Amanali Stud) won the lower division of the Champagne Gold Plate. Sitting easily behind the early leader Pretty In Patpong till the final bend Nirbhaya forged ahead effortlessly and lengthened well to win by four lengths. Wish Upon A Star got the better of Pretty In Patpong for the second place.

Angel In The Sky (Elnadim-Sao Gabriel, Ruia Stud) from the stables of Dallas Todywalla earned her maiden win in the higher division. Taking a good jump from the outermost draw, Angel In Sky improved gradually to get behind the favourite Earth Tamer who was up in front from the start. On the final straight Angel In The Sky started to challenge the leader and after a keen fight surged ahead to spare a length and a quarter at the finish. Dyna stormed in late to snatch the third place from Crossfire. Con Man was a non-starter in the race.

Altamash A Ahmed trained Zaan (Mull of Kintyre-Clear Crystal, Pratap Stud) was ridden to its maiden win by Bangalore based jockey Mudassar Nazar. Plated called the shots in front over the 2000 metres trip followed by Nazrana and Zaan. Ibis and Minstrel Son braced the rear. Turning for home Nazrana surged ahead to take control and was looking good to pull it off as the headed past the distance marker. Jockey Mudassar Nazar started to ride out Zaan from the outside and the 4 year old began to gallop strongly to down Nazrana in the shadow of the winning post. Plated finished third.

For the professionals trainers Pesi Shroff, Mansoor Shah and jockey S.J.Sunil scored a double each.