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SA Poonawalla Million–Flaming Ace Stuns Autonomy

By North-End | 14 Sep 2008 | PUNE


That the race course wore festive look would be an understatement. The entire area was Brightly decorated and the red color, of the Poonawallas, was omni-present all over the race course. A 'red' Maruti car was displayed prominently and yet another new comer was the lucky winner who drove away with the booty. Gorgeous Models had heads turning as they pranced around the paddock in attractive yellow attires topped with brown hats. A traditionally uniformed band played some exotic music adding a lilting touch to the proceedings. The horses that turned up in the paddock too looked a sight and all the contenders were superbly groomed. The grooms accompanying the horses were dressed for the occasion as well. One could feel the excitement build up right from the outset. The electric atmosphere at the Pune race course seemed to have rubbed off on the horses as well, as there were four close finishes - two of them literally inseparable to the naked eye. If the bookmakers had their way, they would have even offered level odds for picking the winner correctly even as the judges were viewing the camera verdict! The race commentator, Deepak Rajpal, well known for his pin point accuracy in close finishes for years now, was non committal and ended screaming… "Autonomy and Flaming Ace….its anybody's race" in the Poonawalla Million. Since the time the Poonawallas had donated the photo finish camera to the RWITC the photo results were announced instantaneously. However, the judge must have made it doubly sure before announcing the final verdict. Autonomy was the clear favorite despite his lay off and boy did he run a marvelous race. Just a bob of the head cost him the race and he did his high reputation no harm even if he did not win the Million! The MAM camp had every reason to rejoice and Srinath had a big hand in this stupendous success playing the perfect foil to Flaming Ace (China Visit – Prevalence). He had more than his share of troubles though, as Flaming Ace, entering the home stretch first, was coming under pressure. Srinath exercised good control and prevented his charge from drifting too much. He had then, to contend with the final flurry of Autonomy who seemed gaining on him all the time and here is where both Flaming Ace and Srinath showed out their fighting spirits. The Pair fought every inch of the ground going neck and neck for all of the final two furlongs. Neither giving an inch! The bob of the head too seemed synchronized and at the wire the opinions were equally divided. When the judge announced the verdict announcing Flaming Ace the winner, one camp went into raptures and the other camp was stunned in disbelief! It was that close! Golden Kingdom made the initial running with Flaming Ace well up, alongside was Autonomy. Juventus was ridden off the pace in the rear bunch but kept improving gradually. Nora dropped out after being in the front till the turn. Saltoro received a bad check from his own stablemate Tyumen around the 1000m mark and lost position alarmingly to drop to a detached last position. That he ended just one off the frame on the quarters of Divine, earns him good many brownie points and he surely comes out with more positives from this race. Romantic Glory too ran a forward race and his connections will not be too disappointed with his effort. Can't say the same for Nora and the others. Juventus squandered a good chance to beat Autonomy on the day and may never be able to do so again. He ended a faraway third. I am inclined to believe that Flaming Ace has pulled an upset when it mattered most and due credit to him, nevertheless, Autonomy will avenge the defeat the next time they meet by a fair measure. This I venture to profess, at the risk of being judged guilty of being over-adventurous! I shall duly recall the above statement whenever it happens in future and if it doesn't then too I shall repeat myself and I am open to criticism if my prediction goes awry. The other breathtaking finish came as a divine dessert after a sumptuous, delectable meal! And no, I am not a bookmaker writing. Blade Runner the first choice in the betting ring, was looking like pulling it off when Touch Of Land, running all over the track came up to challenge Blade Runner in the last 50. Yaan appeared from nowhere startling even the commentator. With a sustained run along the rails Yaan nearly pulled off a shock win falling short by a whisker. Touch Of Land (Modigliani – Storm Sparrow) was the most erratic winner of the day but a beaming Karthik Ganapathy was not complaining. Blade Runner called the shots right from the start and Touch Of Land's chase had begun about the same time. Tograllu was not at his best and let the MAM filly veer out rounding the turn. Once he saw Blade Runner was almost 5 off the fence, Tograllu tried to go for the rails, then again shifted out exhibiting a very indecisive state of mind. Yaan came up with a blinding effort and considering his early position (last of 10) till the turn, Yaan recovered commendably and can consider himself unlucky. This was Blade Runner's best effort yet as all but won the race. I would persist with at least one more time. The Rao Saheb Kedari Gold Trophy was the other attraction of the day and Monopoly (Alnasr Alwasheek– Victory And Gold) toyed with the opposition as she won without any fuss. The shortest priced runner this season hit the front and galloped away without being extended at any stage. In the stretch, she cruised further away and before you could utter the entire title of the race jockey Kamlesh was weighing in after dismounting. Zarzaitine, who chased the winner all the time ended doing so and Cyclades finished a tame third. Pure For Sure was withdrawn at the gates. Bu Attifel (Diffident – Star Role) was the firm favorite but the odds continuously drifted at race time. However, this had no bearing on the race as Bu Attifel trounced the opposition and won unchallenged. Samuel Fargeat settled the Faisal Abbas gelding right behind the bottom weighted Charging Rhino and passed the leader effortlessly soon on turning for home. Bu Attifel stretched away nicely but it was surprising to note that Fargeat never stopped whipping the gelding even when there was no threat in sight. Very unusual indeed! Kingdom Of Love (Fruits Of Love – Desert Native) stayed and stayed well. He traveled well and out lasted the opposition beating the lot comprehensively. It was a tightly packed bunch as they settled down to a slow pace with Cosmopolitan responsible for it. Kingdom Of Love and Miles And More were up next. Flashing Flame, Fiery Fortune were close behind with Secret Presence not too far from the leader though at the tail end of the field. Kingdom Of Love took over long before the turn and stepped up the pace and increased his lead to about 6 L as they turned for home. It was all over in the straight as it became clear that none would match up to cut down Kingdom Of Love's lead and Flashing Flame managed to get the better of the rest to finish runner up. Miles And More, running over his pet distance ended last. Secret Pilgrim (Alnasr Alwasheek – Star Spangled) stretched his winning streak to four wins after completing a hattrick in Pune this season. He was however given a tough fight by Raghuvansh who was in the lead as they straightened for home. Secret Pilgrim was well ridden by Nirmal who averted getting cramped for space at the right time and guided the Imtiaz gelding to a half length victory. Secret Pilgrim had fallen to the last position when they passed the half way stage, had to probe his way between horses and was forced to take the turn in a bigger arc than he would have liked. Once into the straight, Nirmal concentrated on bridging the gap and past the distance post was gaining on Raghuvansh who went down closer home but not without a fight. A confident Nirmal patted his charge in triumph as he got the better of Raghuvansh at the winning post. Rococo did well to end third. Snow Blind (Brave Hunter – Edelweiss) was the most awesome winner of the day. I say this because his was the race that wore the most open look. He had to contend with the widest draw as well. He was well up to the task and readily hit the front as the gates opened and in a flash had established a handy lead. Alaska, Aegina and Mysterious Heights were in close attendance. A couple of lengths further away were Tembung and Rohan's Glory and both finished on well. In the straight, Snow Blind got even better and sped further away working up a decisive lead midway up the straight. Appu polished of the remaining ground easing up. The ones to note are Rohan's Glory and Tembung. Snow Blind, in the same class can hope for an encore. The Mysore Race Club Trophy offered friendly odds as the joint favorites Oyster Pearl and Red Indian were quoted at 3/1 each. Even on the track the duo tussled with each other till the heads turned for home. Once into the straight, Red Indian was fighting a losing battle as Qyster Pearl (Don't Forget Me – Quality Exchange) stormed ahead, ably ridden out by Wayne Smith. The top weight never looked in danger even as Englehart, who lost some ground at the start, made a late bid. Qyster Pearl galloped on regardless and stamped his superiority in no uncertain measure. Englehart is knocking on the doors and is sure to pick up a race before the season ends. Red Indian improved on his earlier effort and needs watching. Star Always and Enceladus disappointed. Vijay Bhava (Juniper – Double Quick) doesn't seem to relish public support. When he was well supported he ran poorly, even losing ground at the start on one occasion. The other time he came up far too late. However, on Sunday he was a different proposition altogether. Vijay Bhava showed keenness at the start and forced his way ahead passing Liverpool near the 800m and settled to lead the field. Jockey Satish Nayak alerted him soon on straightening up and did not rest till he had managed to hold the fast finishing Liverpool at bay. Liverpool tried his best but only could reduce the margin. Veera Wang buckled with the heavy weight but ended a decent third. Centreofattention was found wanting. Young Trainer Karthik Ganapathy hogged the limelight picking up the richest race yet in the current season– The SA Poonawalla Million (GR 2) and finishing off victorious with his only other runner in the day Touch Of Land as well to clinch a lucrative double. Imtiaz Sait was the other professional to score a brace.