CLEVER ALFORD WRONGFOOTS OPPOSITION AND PUNTERS
Mr Subir Dasgupta & trainer Vijay Singh leading Fly Like The Wind (C Alford Up), winner of The Calcutta St. Leger (Gr.3)
The Vijay Singh stable, masterminded by the vastly experienced jockey Christopher Alford pulled off a marvellous coup with Fly Like The Wind as they lifted the season’s last and longest classic – The Calcutta St Leger. Jockey PS Chouhan suffered a nasty fall from Carnival Point in the afternoon’s second race and was replaced in the main event atop Triumphus by Sandeep Rajput.
It was obviously a well thought out ploy by the leading stable as three of the four runners in the fray were from their yard. To use a rugby terminology, they ‘sold a dummy’ to the public by accepting with Aptness who is usually known to be the pacemaker. By declaring Kamlesh on the latter, a top jockey was unnecessarily wasted. Other than which he could have been utilised on Triumphus. Furthermore, the winner of the Queen’s Cup (Acrider) was installed as the firm on-money favourite but ran a lacklustre race without a pacemaker and displayed an obvious lack of interest in the race. That left only Bharath Singh-trained Triumphus to deal with.
Realising that his mount may lack the requisite stamina for a genuinely run 2800 metres race, C. Alford took the filly by Win Legend out of Ice Point (Dashmesh Stud) to the helm of affairs as the gates opened and ran the first kilometre at a very gentle pace. He increased the pace slightly for the next kilometre before going hell for leather in the final 800 metres. Meanwhile, Rajput on Triumphus had ample opportunity to cut down the leeway near the 1000 marker but chose to sit tight. Had he anticipated that Alford was going to release the brakes at the 800, he would have been in a far better situation to deal with the matter if he were within three lengths of the front-runner. At the end of the day, he had to make up nearly nine lengths in the straight and the fact that he narrowed it down to one length at the distance post speaks well of the staying ability of the Burden Of Proof colt. The timing of 3mim 10 seconds on a fast track is poor and shows that it was not a true run race. Many a punter burnt their fingers on the stable’s public choice Acrider but then I suppose moral values are of secondary importance in the present day and age. In every sport, it’s the ‘win at all cost’ policy that fetches the rewards for the connections.
In an absolutely amazing display, Patrick Quinn-trained Agatta (Ikhtyar-Jalapeno/Nanoli Stud) was piloted by substitute jockey Afzal Khan to land the spoils in the seven-furlong race for the Delhi Race Club Cup. The 11 kg penalty incurred by the winner for her last win was taken in her stride as she got the better of the runaway Evesham close home despite drifting out to the outer rails. The favourite seems more suited to six furlongs as his strides were shortening in the final 100 metres. This was the third win of the Quinn runner this season and he deserves a pat on the back for working wonders with the mare after she changed stables. She was originally with the Vijay Singh yard.
The afternoon commenced with a ‘doosra’ as the Jasbir Singh stable pocketed The Easter Parade Handicap with Bazuka (Mull Of Kintyre – Shubashya Shigram/ Sohna Studs) who was ridden to a start-to-finish victory by leap-year jockey Pintu Das. Stablemate of the winner and favourite The Great Hannible ended up a tame second.
The second race of the day, The Tokaido Express Handicap, saw the shortest priced favourite of the afternoon come good as C.Alford guided home Lombardo from Vijay Singh’s yard without much ado. However, the race was not without incident as there were two fallers. At the 800 marker, Moonlit Sky and Nikhil came down while Carnival Point, who was immediately behind with PS Chouhan astride, followed. Moonlit Sky was subsequently put down while Chouhan suffered a fractured forearm and will be out of action for some time.
Trainer Arti Doctor has done rather well this season and it came as no surprise when she notched up a brace with her trusted knight P Kamlesh. Both the runners were public choices and Kamlesh left nothing to chance. Top-weight Claymore (Dark Angel-Gavotte ) collared Cool Hunter to quite easily to account for The Aristocrat Plate while Climber (Arabian Gulf-Bushfire/ Manjri Stud) was an equally facile winner in the race for the upper division of the Cupid Handicap.
Javed Khan-trained Xipen had to work hard for winning the lower division of The Cupid Handicap. Apprentice Jorawar Singh’s persistence paid off as Xipen (New Famous-Xray/ Yeravada Stud) got up in the final fifty metres to peg back the runaway Astatki at the post.
Jockey Shailesh Shinde got a chance ride on Rodrigues-trained Major Colours (Arabian Gulf-Trace Of Magic/ Manjri Stud) as because of the injury to Chouhan. He did not disappoint his backers as he won the upper division of The Adelina Handicap without being stretched. Shinde picked up the lower division of the same race with another favourite Anbiorn (Multidimensional – Al Dente/ Usha Stud) from Vijay Singh’s yard, who came with a fluent run, once the front-runners started to shorten their strides.