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By Mahendra Mallya | 02 Aug 2015 | PUNE

Mr. & Mrs.Vijay B.Shirke leading Eduardo (Trevor Patel Up), winner of The Dr S R Captain Trophy

Eduardo (Excellent Art – Pickwick Papers, Nanoli Stud) showed a touch of class as he accomplished a fine streak of victories, his third on the trot, this time to claim the Dr SR Captain Trophy. Eduardo shared the betting honors with Staristocrat and the SR Captain Trophy, named after one of the most respected names among the racing fraternity, considered ‘Super Stipe’ in his time. The race was touted as a two-horse race!

Eduardo, with Trevor in the saddle, shot into the lead soon on start and kept galloping in a fine rhythm all through. He skipped ahead of a sizable lead and on entering the straight, sped away showing a clean pair of heels. Staristocrat did not get the clearest of runs, however that would not have made any difference as Eduardo’s run was too smooth and superior to fathom any different result had Staristocrat had remained in hot pursuit from any moment. Eduardo was clearly superior and with the huge chunk of weight he was receiving from Staristocrat made his task that much easier. He looks good enough to provide an encore in the kind of form he has maintained.

It was a Memorable day for top notch jockey Suraj Narredu who while steering Orla (Phoenix Tower Bluemont, Manjri  Stud) to her debut win, reached a landmark 1500 career wins and including 40 Classics.

“I am immensely pleased no doubt, but this is just a number if one thinks practically,” said Suraj to indiarace, under-playing this commendable achievement. Only a handful of jockeys have gone beyond this landmark in the country. The names that instantly come to mind are some of the legends of Indian racing – Vasant Shinde, Aslam Kadar, Pesi Shroff, Malesh Narredu, Robin Cornor, B Prakash and KPG Appu.       

“I have had a satisfying career so far and my first feelings of gratitude after the Almighty go to the owners and trainers who have given me the platform and the opportunities to deliver.  My family has been immensely supportive and home has been a school to improve as well. There is so much more to achieve and these landmarks are highly motivating,” said Suraj. When asked if there were any specific targets in mind, Suraj replied, “I am keen to add the St Leger and the Poonawalla Breeders’ Multi-Million to my list of Classics.”     

Orla defied the odds and sprang from the rear to shock more fancied rivals arriving with a dazzling dash towards the finish. Settling in the fourth spot Orla sat close behind in the front bunch which had Japanese, favorite Excelonce and June. On turning for home, Japanese surged ahead with Excelonce under pressure and soon Orla began to mount his challenge. Excelonce, who looked a touch gross in the paddock, was fighting hard to stay in contention. Orla moved up nicely to collar Japanese in the final furlong and then sped ahead to draw first blood in her first attempt. Japanese did well to keep Excelonce and the finishing on Marcus Aurelius at bay. Orla won with a measure of comfort and I felt Excelonce may have needed the run. The distance too may have been a bit sharp for the favorite as he showed signs of resurfacing in the final few strides.

It was a day to remember for young apprentice SJ Sunil who logged his first double. His first winner was atop Pretty Lights (Street Sense – Final Refrain, Astonish Stud) in the day’s second race. Sunil had the Altaf Hussain trained filly way off the pace as Allegiance set a moderate tone for the mile and quarter trip. Striking Story, one of the better fancied runners, quickly moved up to be second for most part of the journey, with the rest of the field well spread out, racing more or less in a single file.

Allegiance entered the straight with a slender lead and although Striking Story did his best, he could not find much to make any headway. Pretty Lights lit up soon enough and made gigantic progress from the outside to draw away without encountering any challenge. It was soon over and Pretty Lights stretched out to make a clean run and win by over five lengths. Allegiance did well to pick up the runner-up berth, while Striking Story could only manage to save the place money.       

SJ Sunil struck again in the last race of the day guiding Kolse’s Beyond Horizons (Ace – Blue Horizons, Poona Stud), displaying a good sense of riding skill. He did well to switch lanes at the right juncture and then control the outward drift when his mount was tending to shift and finally made a steady dash to collar Samba Warrior who looked good enough to win until Beyond Horizons spoilt his party.

Samba Warrior done most things right leading from the start and coming into the straight with a handy lead as well. Even on entering the homestretch, Samba Warrior kept it going and warding off You’re The Boss and the well-backed Presence. He still had a useful lead in the final furlong but he failed to counter the strong challenge posted by Beyond Horizons. Monza came with a fast finish to pip Presence for the third spot.

Bullrun (China Visit – You Are My Miracle, Usha Stud) won in a most thrilling fashion catching popular fancy Maleficent on the post. They battled through the homestretch, Maleficent holding the ever-diminishing advantage until the last stride. Bullrun was ridden out aggressively throughout and had to use up every ounce to get the favorite on the post. These two held the two top positions all the way. Would Trevor have done better had he kept Maleficent in third or fourth instead of taking him on a start to finish mission, while carrying the top weight?  The verdict is too close to debate that, but I for one, felt his chances would have been better had he had something in reserve for the final blast. All credit to Bullrun for putting up a bold show and bullish determination.   Multi Glory finished an eye-catching third as he made up considerable ground in the straight, after staying in the rear for most of the journey.

Legend of the Seas (Chevalier – Sao Gabriel, Ruia Stud) produced a terrific run to pull off an incredible victory at nourishing odds and the main casualty was Bay of Secrets, the odds on favorite, who ended a tame third.

It was a crowded bunch that galloped within touching distance of one another, President heading them all to the turn. Soon Atomic took over briefly before Magic In Tne Air shot ahead into the straight. Bay of Secrets appeared from the outside and looked well into the reckoning. Then came Legend of the Seas from a long way back and also after taking the turn wide skirting around the well spread field.

Magic In the Air had managed to shake off Bay of Secrets when Legend of the Seas arrived with gigantic strides and zipped ahead within split seconds. He was away in a flash and romped home to win in a most convincing manner. It was surprising to note that he was completely neglected in the betting. Legend of the Seas won readily and looks good for more. Bay of Secrets ended third, but would benefit from this run and is one for the notebooks. Magic in the Air too had a good outing and worth following over the sprint.

Heart of the City (Phoenix Tower – Woman on Top, Manjri Stud), came in with a scorching run to score a runaway victory with surprising ease. With no form to go by, he too was understandably not in the betting. Make Way For Me saw odds on him drift higher and true to the trends did little of consequence. He moved in sharply at the jump and found himself behind a wall of horses and closer to the wrong end of the field.

Act of Valour brought the field home and before long, Heart of the City took complete command. He galloped away to amass a huge lead within seconds and booted home the early advantage to carve out his maiden victory in his 15th attempt. Ukulele could not improve after settling in the front bunch, surrendering the second spot to Spanish Saga’s late burst.

The drift in odds in the bookmakers’ ring seldom proves wrong as even Bella Traviata went down tamely in the day’s opener. It was Spear of Trium who put the old trick of ‘take-jump-hit-front’ to optimum use and made every post a winning one. Bella Traviata tried hard to chase down the winner, but only got to his haunches midway in the straight. Dashrath Singh rode out Spear of Trium confidently to stay well ahead at the post. Blackbean made little progress and ended up third without passing the front runners. Wild Temptation moved up a couple of notches in the final furlong to end in the frame after languishing in the rear and being the last one to turn for home.

For the professionals, trainer Narendra Lagad and jockey SJ Sunil compiled a double each.