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By Mahendra Mallya | 25 Dec 2014 | MUMBAI

Solomon (Trevor Patel Up), winner of The Edgar DeSylva Trophy

The atmosphere at the Mahalaxmi racecourse was festive with a special live band playing peppy, foot-tapping numbers, both new and some old evergreen classics.

On the track however, Solomon (Rebuttal – Dhahab, Hazara Stud) displayed fine rhythm as he galloped fluently to dismiss the opposition with minimum fuss. He took off quickly at the gates and settled to dictate the terms right from the outset. Zander closed-in just that little bit and Gangnam Style also showed that all was well with him, as both were within striking distance when Solomon brought them into the straight. Desert Wings had dropped a spot at the turn and was picking up speed, but Solomon was simply indifferent to what was going on behind him. He marched on gallantly and jockey P Trevor rode out sparingly to churn out a clinical operation without a hitch. Solomon was far too superior to the bunch and he proved it with a sustained gallop right through to the winning post. If one had braved to back him at 3/10 on, Solomon did not cause him/her even a moment of anxiety as he strode royally to win long way from home, using up minimum fuel. And Solomon ambled to his third victory from seven starts, his second successive one.

Then there were those who secured their maiden wins in the day’s earlier races with Global Icon achieving his on his first outing. The Imtiaz Siat debutante was ignored in the markets as Calissa and Stateira garnering almost all of the betting, Another Ace taking a thin slice through some stray bets. 

Calissa got off to a quick start and showed a bit of nip too as she picked up to lead the field. Global Icon settled just behind the leader with Another Ace alongside and Stateira another length away.

Calissa looked in control until the distance post and that’s when Global Icon picked up his game with a decisive forward surge. Stateira too was warming up with Trevor urging her on with a couple of cracks. However, Zervan had Global Icon responding well to land the spoils warding off Stateira’s final push to etch out a narrow win on debut.

Global Icon did well for a debut run and will surely improve. Stateira had a tough first outing and tough she took her time to warm up, she showed good resolve and can be taken to performer better. Calissa displayed good speed but failed to sustain it all the way. She too will be wiser with the run and needs to be given another chance.

Golden Belle was the shortest priced runner on the day (3/10 on) and Ostwind proved a giant killer. Ostwind (Holy Roman Emperor – Ertiyaad, Lumbini Stud) had his share of supporters though and if there was a coup here, there were few better. Golden Belle looked on course to another victory as she led them into the straight a couple of lengths ahead of the rest. However, she wilted under pressure as Ostwind arrived with a game gallop approaching the distance post. Golden Belle looked in danger the moment Ostwind got to her haunches and she could find nothing extra when challenged. Ostwind blew the favourite off her lead and streaked ahead to post an impressive maiden win. Evidence showed marked improvement over his last run yet may take a while to get into a formidable groove. Sentimental looked good in the paddock, but shied away when it came to a fight. She will learn and looks a good type. Roxelana had a forgettable outing and she was too far back to take any pluses from her first airing.

Shivalik View (Dancing Forever – Kabubina, Hazara Stud) won as an on-money favourite should. She settled well and on entering the straight, she progressed smoothly to collar Blend of Elegance early in the straight. Once into the lead, jockey CS Jodha eased her into a fluent gallop and she amassed a huge lead to ensure there was no threat lurking. She sped away to win by a widening margin. Star Lightning ran on to end a tame second, well ahead of Arrivederci who made slight progress towards the finish.

Fancied horses at good odds returned winners in both the divisions of the Crow Gaming Christmas Cup. In the upper division, Tinogona (Chevalier – Outotstealthescene, Ruia Stud) put in a pitched battle to come up trumps close home. The early birds in this race lost the graphic ‘worm’ to the late finisher Tinogona.

Earth Tamer was up in front early and Praelector not too far behind. Entering the straight, these two stretched further ahead with Lucky Charm lurking close behind. Past the distance post, Earth Tamer was resisting a strong bid unleashed by Praelector and the duo was fighting it out. Lucky Charm was right on their tail, but not finding that extra gear to topple the two in front. Tinogona arrived with Trevor in the saddle going all out and they timed their finish to a nicety getting past them all a stride or two before the winning post.

Fast Lady (Khelef – Lightning Speed, Sohna Stud) too one in similar thrilling fashion, but she only had to contend with the well-backed Beach Game. Beach Game had played his cards right and came into the straight with a clear turf ahead. Those closest to him were accounted for and Beach Game was heading for success. First Lady had other ideas though and she arrived with a spirited challenge in the latter half of the homestretch. One not to give up easily, Yash Narredu rode out to quell the challenger. However, in the last 100 meters, Fast Lady with Trevor atop, pushed the pedal and just managed to get that bit extra to prevail in the final few strides. Phelps worked hard to earn place money, warding off Ice Gates’ late bid. Santa Ana gave glimpses of a good showing and may have needed this run.

Melinda and Draco were at logger heads in the second half of the straight and the battle didn’t end there. Soul Centric was in command as they steered into the straight with Melinda getting past Zambian easily to set about catching up with the leader. Draco had to switch lanes to make his run and he too was accelerating well. Soul Centric fell when countered with the dual challenge and in the final furlong it was a straight fight between favourite Melinda and Draco. The pair went hammer and tongs with neither giving up. Under pressure, Melinda drifted out and made contact with Draco. They both hit the wire and the judge’s verdict went in favour of Melinda.

Dashrath Singh did not hesitate to lodge an objection soon on unsaddling. He stated that Melinda had bumped him twice in the straight and unbalanced him. The Stewards saw merit in the objection and adjudged to uphold the same and Draco was declared the winner, Melinda second.

The mile-and-half Maseeha Plate saw a dreadful start for Delightful Lady as she fly-lumped and lost all chances. Al Shamsheer made a mad dash and galloped away to pile up a massive lead all through the back stretch. Favourite Ace Fantasy was several lengths behind leading the rest by some distance.

Al Shamsheer entered the straight with a huge lead and Ace Fantasy plodded on without hope. Just when it looked that Al Shamsheer had pulled off his bluff, in came Grenadine(Amadeus Wolf – Hekayaat, Nanoli Stud) chugging along to catch the runaway leader inside the final furlong to pull off a sensational win. Grenadine finished on full of steam to surge past Al Shamsheer and gallop to her second career win over the distance.

There She Goes (Ace – Rhapsidion Snow, Poona Stud) with young apprentice jockey Ajinkya in the saddle netted a well fought victory and provided a rich reward to her connections winning at healthy odds. Ajinkya did well to weave her way from an outside draw to be in the thick of things moments after the start as Diamond Zip darted into the lead.

On entering the straight, Diamond Zip was way ahead of the rest. There She Goes started to make headway and at the same juncture, Glorious Crown too was starting to quicken. This duo got past Diamond Zip easily and tussled for supremacy. In the end, There She Goes accelerated strongly to win it with Glorious Crown ending on her haunches. Gyahana and Blackbean were locked together for the third place with the former scraping home for place money.

Fireproof (Phoenix Tower – Firecrest, Manjri Stud) showed marked improvement over his last two runs to earn his maiden victory with a gritty performance. He was up with the pace set by Dance Debonaire who had Sindbaad for company all long until the turn.

Sindbaad led briefly and soon Flying Angel surged past. Yash did a commendable job astride Flying Angel as he kept her interested for almost all the way. However, Fireproof started to loom large and came with a fiery gallop. Strawberry Crush was nearly getting crushed between the two forcing her to switch lanes. That may have cost him dearly as he resurfaced to charge at Fireproof with a fast gallop. He was clearly gaining on Fireproof and had the winning post arrived a split-second later, Strawberry Crush would not have needed to file an objection. Fireproof prevailed by a short verdict. The Stewards did not agree that that little skirmish early in the straight would have had a bearing on the result, hence overruled the objection and Fireproof, got is winning bracket and not without a test by fire. Flying Angel was rewarded with place money for her good effort.

For the professionals, trainers Imtiaz Sait, Bezan Chenoy and M Narredu saddled a double each. Jockey P Trevor has been consistent this season and this time rode out a treble. Jockey CS Jodha too returned a lucrative brace.