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By Mahendra Mallya | 26 Oct 2014 | PUNE

Mr & Mrs Vijay B. Shirke, & Mr K. N. Dhunjibhoy leading Circle Of Bliss (A Sandesh Up), winner of The Irish Thoroughbred Marketing & Goffs R.W.I.T.C. Ltd Gold Cup (Gr.2)

The concluding day of the Pune Meeting 2014 was a day of hectic activity with a host of Sponsored races adding to the glitter in the ten-race card. Trophy presentations, awards, speeches, vote of thanks and the felicitations of the champion pros added fervour and a supportive crowd cheered knowing that action will now shift to Mumbai, starting from 16th Nov.

Shroff provided sort of a parting gift on the last day to the popular partners Vijay Shirke, KN Dhunjibhoy & Berjis Desai sending out Circle of Bliss (Singspiel – Dubai Spirit) bred at ‘KND’s Nanoli Stud who returned a resolute winner, proving she is the best filly in the yard after Amazing Grace.

Circle of Bliss brought home the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing and Goffs RWITC Gold Cup (Gr2) without dropping sweat and reversed her shock defeat to To The Manor Born earlier in the season.

Stable-mate Clinton cut the early pace with Starry Eyes deploying a change in tactics to up in front after initially racing in the rear for the first couple of furlongs. Agostini held the third spot with To The Manor Born and Trance for company, while Circle of Bliss and Commander racing in the rear, but were right behind the trio in front. The entire field was clustered within five to six lengths.

Starry Eyes shot into the lead at the turn and To The Manor Born soon moved up to challenge. Agostini, who had bandages strapped on, got caught between horses and jockey Srinath had to check the colt more than once at a crucial juncture, nearing the 600 meter mark. By the time he regained composure, jockey Sandesh had set Circle of Bliss alight. The game filly accelerated brilliantly to sail past To The Manor Born and Starry Eyes to streak ahead and out of bounds of her rivals, to post a classy victory.

Agostini scored some points with a late dash to snatch the runner-up berth from Starry Eyes and To The Manor Born who were at full throttle. While Circle of Bliss triumphed in style, leaving no question about her form and superiority, Agostini’s effort too was a commendable one as well. Firstly, the terms of the race had him giving a hunk of weight to proven top class rivals. Secondly and more crucially, he was blocked for space just at a time when they all were shifting to top gear.  That Agostini yet recovered to finish second and bridge a longish gap the winner had piled on, surely is a sign that Agostini’s effort was a notable one and one to keep in mind and he will be a live force in the forthcoming Terms races.   

Ms Elaine Hatton, Director, Irish Thoroughbred Marketing and Mr Joey Cullen, representing Goffs presented the trophies to the winning owners, trainer Shroff, jockey Sandesh and the Stud Farm represented by Mr Adi Narielwalla.

Immediately after the presentation, Ms Hutton presented the trophy of the Quipco British Sprint Stakes (group II) won by Gordon Lord Byron a couple of weeks ago at Ascot on British Champions Day. Dr Cyrus Poonawalla who owns Gordon Lord Byron was delighted when the race was played out on the CCTV monitors. Enthusiastic patrons marvelled at the brave display by Gordon Lord Byron, taking the narrowest of gaps between horses in the dying stages of the race and a loud cheer echoed when he surged ahead and posted a terrific victory. Dr Cyrus Poonawalla successes on the global circuit are rare for an Indian owner. His other horses Kenhope and David Livingstone also have won prestigious races overseas and this certainly is a matter of pride and joy for the Indian racing fraternity.

The Coolmore Million was bagged by Mansoor Shah’s Polydences (Ontario – Perfect Polly, Sohna Stud) owned by Mr Haresh & Manav Mehta. Jockey Yash Narredu got straight down to business darting ahead with Polydences building on the flying start at the gates. Dramarama and Top Trainer raced behind the leader with Your Royal Majesty, Speed King and Reality following a couple of lengths away.

Polydences grew stronger in the straight and soon put in a scorching gallop bounding forward at top speed. None could keep up and Polydences looked the winner passing the Grand Stands, with more than a furlong to go. Speed King finished on fastest to pip Dramarama for the second spot.  Your Royal Majesty was listless and finished a tame fourth.

The TRM-GNF Million was another attraction and the first ‘Million’ race for two-year-olds. Polished Chrome (Arazan – Miss Danehill, Villo’s Greenfield Stud) owned Dr Cyrus & Mr Adar Poonawalla representing Villoo Poonawalla Racing and Breeding Pvt Ltd, Estate of late Dr Goolam E Vahanvati & Mr Saleem Fazelbhoy produced a scintillating gallop to mark a smashing debut, beating favourite Golden Belle and company by a comfortable margin.

Polished Chrome jumped out smartly as did Golden Belle and this pair were way ahead of the rest all through the race. Polished Chrome, with Dashrath Singh in the saddle sailed past Golden Belle soon on turning for home and the bay filly simply shot away to score an emphatic victory. Golden Belle ran on to finish second. While Spirited Touch ran to take the place money, Captain Courage had a forgettable outing. He seemed to have lost his grip on the bit and went wide all through. He was skirting along the outer rails at the turn galloping on the stand side in the straight. Despite taking the longer route, Captain Courage grabbed a place in the frame. This certainly is encouraging and one needs to watch him closely when he reappears on the track for a fresh campaign.

The day started with the Red Mills Committed to Indian Racing Trophy Div I and debutante Wilderness shared the betting honours with Statuesque. While the former was never in the hunt, Statuesque shaped well to grab the lead from Star midway in the straight. Statuesque gave it all and was hoping to scamper home when Sunny Sea, always in third behind Statuesque, pounced on her inside the final 100 meters. Trainer B Prakash’s Sunny Sea (Placerville – Tide of Fortune, Poona Stud) with Kishore Kadam astride, timed the finish to perfection and managed to surge past in time to win by a narrow margin.

Free Speech (Alnasr Alwasheek – Forever Elegance, Exhilaration Stud) claimed the lower division of the race with a fluent effort. Trainer Amjad Khan’s ward sat in second behind leader Joleene from the start. Millenium Falcon raced close behind with Rising Wave, Beach Game and favourite Sweet As Honey in that order.

Into the straight, Joleene had a useful lead but Free Speech opened up with a fiery burst to zip past the leader and extend the margin with every stride. Free Speech showed a good turn of foot to win drawing away. Beach Game ran on to finish a faraway second getting easily past Joleene. Sweet As Honey ended a disappointing fourth.

Pappillon (Danehill Star – Seis Conora, Galloping Acres) skirted around the big bunch of horses and arrived with a rattle in the straight to shock Elaheh, who had only a stride before taken charge. Elaheh was just about ready for the final burst for the finish when Papillon, ridden by P Kamlesh, just zipped past in a flash to smother her challenge. The HOsidar Daji trainee came alive with a spirited run to down them all in a matter of seconds. Oxbridge tried hard to close in, but Pipillon had sped beyond reach. Oxbridge could only progress to beat Elaheh for the next best slot.

Dallas Todywalla trained Frankanella (Razeen-Haedi, Usha Stud) was one among the two favourites that obliged on the last day of the season. The filly shot to the front at start but was soon passed by Hail The King who rushed to get to the front after jumping out from an outward draw. Jockey A.Sandesh settled Frankanella nicely to track the leader and slipped along the fence to regain the lead even before the turn for home. An Jolie began to challenge strongly in the homestretch but Sandesh kept riding out Frankanella to score an encore by three parts of a length. Glorious Reward finished third over four lengths adrift.

Jockey Dashrath Singh who piloted a double in the day started off with C.Rajendr- trained Shaughnessy (Glory of Dancer-Struie, Manjri Stud) in the division I of the K-Club Vase. Shaughnessy settled well in about fourth or fifth quickly, travelling all the way about three off the rails. Beyond Horizons had taken charge approaching the last 600 metres and Shaughnessy moved swiftly to forge ahead from the outside turning for home and stretched out easily once into the straight. The favoured Troppa Bella made a late bid but was never a threat to the winner and ended up as the runner-up. Helping Hand beat Beyond Horizons to finish in the money.

S.S.Shah trained Feast of Love (Mull of Kintyre-Fabulous Fortune, Ruia Stud) was ridden to victory by jockey S.Mosin in the lower division. The dark bay filly headed to the front quickly and raced along the inner rails. The favourite Summer Express was on the haunches of the leader all the way with Brown Dynamite and Cartel racing together about two lengths away followed by the rest. Feast of Love was relentless all the way even as Summer Express applied pressure from the outside. Brown Dynamite also charged towards the fighting duo in front. In a three way finish Feast of Love held on by half a length from Summer Express while Brown Dynamite was third, a short-head behind. Cartel filled the judge’s frame.

Minister (Ace – Sky Rocket, Poona Stud) picked up the concluding race of the season with a late flourish to down the fighting pair of Clouds of Glory and Miracle of Mercy. 

Zaagros led them into the straight and soon Clouds of Glory went past to take the lead. Miracle of Mercy started to chase down Clouds of Glory and as they were engaged in a battle, Minister arrived with giant strides. Jockey YS Srinath got Minister going in the final furlong to force his way ahead and pull off a fine victory. Trainer Bezan Chenoy’s Minister (Ace – Sky Rocket, Poona Stud) romped home to notch up his maiden victory on his eighth attempt.

Mr Vivek Jain, Chairman of the RWITC, did the presentation honours to the champions of the Season. Following are the winners for Pune Meeting 2014

Leading Owners: United Racing & Bloodstock Breeders Ltd rep by Mr Zeyn Mirza

Leading Stud Farm: Poonawalla Stud Farm

Leading Trainer: Pesi Shroff

Leading Jockey: A Sandesh

Leading Jockey (With Allowance) Yash Narredu

Leading Apprentice: Yash Narredu

Leading Bookmaker (Pune): Latif Associates. This is the 25th time that they have won this award

Leading Bookmaker (Mumbai): Banarasi Das

It certainly was a pleasure to report from Pune and I hope you all enjoyed the races and also the coverage on Indiarace. Mumbai is gearing up for action and the first day is scheduled for the 16th of November. Looking forward to reporting to you from Mumbai and on behalf of the Indiarace team I wish you all the best of health, wealth and happiness and a very Happy Diwali. And all the very best of luck for the forthcoming Bangalore and Mumbai racing seasons.