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Phenomenale Gallops To Glory

By North-End | 12 Oct 2008 | PUNE


Phenomenale (Montjeu – Contrarian) started off a run of three victories on the trot for trainer Pesi Shroff in the last three races on the Derby day at Pune on Sunday. After a subdued start where his reasonably fancied Sentinel and Oh So Romantic failed to catch the attention, Shroff's three other runners scored in succession - including the prestigious Nanoli Stud Pune Derby (Gr 1) - for the day to end on a spectacular note for the trainer. Phenomenale was the pick of the three naturally, considering the sheer enormity of the race she had won. The manner of victory was quite another thing! This is Pesi Shroff's second Derby triumph in his budding career as trainer, the first being the Kingfisher Bangalore Derby earlier this year with the wonder filly Set Alight. While Set Alight progressed gradually but steadily getting good schooling in Mumbai before embarking upon her all conquering campaign in Bengaluru, Phenomenale was pushed into the deep end without half as much preparation. Most were of the opinion that Phenomenale was being put to the harsh test too early in her career and Shroff himself was the first to agree to the sentiment. "Yes the race was coming her way a trifle early for Phenomenale, but it was unintentional. We had targeted a race towards the end of Mumbai for her after her first run, but that race went void. Her victory in the September Handicap recently showcased her staying prowess. I knew she had it in her to stand the test. She is something special" said Shroff. Refusing to draw a comparison to Set Alight, Pesi added "They are both high quality fillies. Set Alight has had a head start, hasn't she? I consider myself fortunate to have fillies with such good potential training with me. I would like to thank the owners to have entrusted their horses to my care. Training such talented fillies for the knowledgeable, horse loving owners is indeed a great privilege. Getting to share the pride and joy in their success is an additional and welcome perk". Incidently, Pesi Shroff the jockey had a hand in guiding home another Derby winner who was even less experienced than Phenomenale. Classical Act owned by Dr. Vijay Mallya had won the Bangalore Derby with Shroff in the saddle, in only his second start. Dr. CS Poonawalla, Chairman, RWITC, whose wife Mrs. Villoo Poonawalla owns the filly in partnership with the Rattonsey brothers and Mr. Nensay, said to Indiarace: "it was unfortunate that Autonomy was withdrawn due to his injury. It would have been a sterner test then, for Phenomenale. She is definitely a well bred filly and there is no question about her staying ability. She won well and this was brilliant, considering her short racing experience". Jockey Rajendra was the one with a lot of adrenalin flowing even after the race. He was punching the air in triumph even as he passed the winning post. He said "Great filly, I want to ride her again in Mumbai. She took it up even as no one was keen to race in the front and she knew exactly what she had to do. I knew I had it sewn up midway up the straight even as the others were hot on her trail. She was finishing strongly. And boy, can she stay"! I overheard Rajendra saying to Mrs. Villoo Poonawalla "Mam, I want to ride her in Mumbai, Mam she is terrific"! A clearly overjoyed Mrs. Poonawalla sporting a broad smile nodded to him. Phenomenale hit front soon on start and the long striding filly set up a decent pace. Rising Hero and Flaming Ace followed, Antonios and Dancing Dynamite chose to race off the pace. Malesh closed in on Phenomenale getting Antonios to be in close touch and almost immediately Suraj made his move to track the leading pair as they were rounding the bend. At this juncture, both Flaming Ace and Rising Hero were rapidly falling back. In the straight, it was a long drawn battle with Phenomenale striding well, Antonios got to her haunches as did Dancing Dynamite but that's as close as they got to the impressive filly. Phenomenale warded off the duo with a measure of comfort and Rajendra began his celebration a stride too early incurring the wrath of the stewards. The jockey had acted spontaneously at the huge success and could not control his emotions. Dancing Dynamite and Antonios were gallant in defeat. Flaming Ace could not rise to the occasion and Rising Hero did not measure up at all. The crowd screamed in delight as Pesi Shroff went out to lead-in Phanomenale on the track. The jubliation of the crowd was evident as they plucked flowers and showered the petals on the trainer and the jockey, screaming their congratulatory expressions at high decibels. The intensity of the glory was felt all round the race course. Phenomenale sure had a strong share of supporters with even stronger vocal chords. The Nanoli Stud Farm had contributed Rs. 20,00,000/- taking the total stakes to over Rs. 52,00,000/- the highest for the Pune Derby. Phenomenale got the winner's share of over three million along with an exquisite Trophy. Mrs. Villoo Poonawalla was ecstatic while proudly receiving the glittering trophy from the Sponsors - Mrs. Deepa and Mr. Khushroo Dhunjibhoy.