‘DESERVING’ DOUBLE FOR C. ALFORD; TREVOR DISAPPOINTS
Mr Zeyn Mirza & trainer Manvendra Singh leading Cohiba (Hindu Singh Up), winner of The Gloriosa Cup
Jockey Christopher Alford was back in business with a high-priced double featuring Deserving Visit (6/1) and Aptness (5/1). It was an eventful afternoon at the Calcutta racecourse which saw punters getting the rough end of the stick in the first three races before being rescued by jockey Kamlesh astride the Arti Doctor-trained pair of favourites Waveafterwave and Pujarin. Both won hard-fought races narrowly from their nearest rivals Aerona and Capt Haddock respectively. Visiting jockey Trevor Patel had a miserable afternoon with a blank scoresheet. The nearest he got to opening his day’s tally was atop Capt Haddock which went down at the wire by the narrowest of margins to Pujarin. But first things first – the running of the postponed Harry The Horse Cup had visitors in a tizzy. The sweepstakes event looked a highly competitive affair and it did not come as a surprise when Evesham closed as the 9/4 favourite.
The feature event of the day saw Christopher Alford back in contention with a flawless ride astride Deserving Visit (China Visit-Deserving Lady/ Usha Stud). The filly jumped out well and was maintained outside the pace-setter Macedonian till the top of the straight, before she shot ahead and quite easily kept at bay stablemate Evesham and Gentle Knowledge. Robert Gowli, in whose stable the winner is currently stationed, led in a treble, his other winners being Goliath and Aptness.
The Gloriosa Cup was the last opportunity for Trevor to redeem himself after a disappointing afternoon. His mount Astaire closed as the 3/1 favourite and was shaping like a winner at the distance post after collaring frontrunner Free Energy, but was overhauled close home by Manvendra Singh-trained Cohiba (Sligo Bay – Dancer's Fan/ Kunigal Stud). The owner-mate of Astaire was ridden with great gusto by young whipless apprentice Hindu Singh who weaved his way from the rear of the field before seeing daylight near the distance post and coaxed a triumphant gallop out of the colt. It was a clever ploy by the trainer to use the apprentice’s 4kg allowance to good effect. The apprentice thus completed a brace, having earlier piloted the Bhungard schooled favourite Annie Oakley (Noverre – Tekindia/ Sohna Stud) to a facile pillar-to-post victory in the race for The Unleashed Handicap.
Trainer Arti Doctor and her trusted knight Kamlesh had earlier brought some relief to battered punters with a popular double featuring Waveafterwave and Pujarin. The winning duo were ridden in contrasting fashion by last winter’s champion. Waveafterwave (Arabian Gulf – Royal Liverpool/ Manjri Stud) outclassed the opposition with a start-to-finish effort, though Aerona did make a strong bid in the final furlong.
In the very next race, The Heiress Handicap, Pujarin (Noverre – Sloats Burg/ Sohna Stud) won a hard-fought race over front-running Capt Haddock (Trevor up). The duo went neck and neck down the straight but at the wire it was Pujarin with a short-head verdict in her favour.
Trevor’s woes started with a heavy shower that commenced well before the second race and continued during the running of the race, The Clamp Handicap. His mount, the 10-to-4-on hot favourite Midnight Magic jumped out well from an inside draw and was a well positioned fourth till the top of the straight while My Commitment (Crown Jewels – Gracias Senorita/ Noble Stud) called the shots with Songstress on her outside. After heads turned for home, Trevor made the blunder of opting for a narrow gap between the front-runner and the rails and paid the penalty as the vastly experienced Vinay Jaiswal promptly closed the gap and hung on to his advantage by a thread. The badly checked public choice came flying in the final 100 metres to finish a very close third in a blanket finish involving Asian Rocket as well. There’s no doubt that Trevor lost a certain race. Had he opted for the outside from the outset, he would have pulled it off quite easily. The objection held no water as he had no business to force a highly risky passage along the rails, that too in pouring rain. The tricky Calcutta track thus claimed another victim who has yet to get used to its nuances.
The lower division of The Cherry Handicap saw the fancied runners Significant and Royal Scots cutting each other’s throats while friendless seven-year-old Goliath (Don Micheletto – Funny Girl/ Nakul Stud) with Sk Zafar Riaz astride came on his own steam to sail past the fighting duo.
The curtain-raiser went to the outsider of five – Fervent Quest (Placerville-Fervent Wish/ Poonawalla Stud) who returned the day’s highest tote dividend. Trainer Shyam Habbu needs to be complimented for patiently bringing this property of the Khaitan family into tip top condition. Jockey MF Ali Khan made it a start-to-finish affair atop the above-class animal.
Talking of the Khaitan family, it was good to see the famed red-and-gold colours back in prominence after the untimely demise of Mr Deepak Khaitan. The ladies of the Kahitan household are the joint owners of the three winners on Wednesday – Fervent Quest, Deserving Visit and Aptness. The last named, by Steinbeck out of Aptiana ( Usha Stud) gave C. Alford his double and an armchair ride to victory in the race for the Metallic Handicap.