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By Mahendra Mallya | 15 Aug 2015 | PUNE

Trainer C D Katrak leading Starry Brook (P Kamlesh Up), winner of The PRA Independence Million

Starry Brook (Multidimensional – Star Supremacy, Usha Stud) performed to perfection to pull off a surprisingly easy victory and win the PRA Independence Million in style. All the pre-race expectations of a close fighting finish vanished the moment Starry Brook entered the straight with a commanding lead. The Cooji Kartak trained filly, owned by Dr YK Hamied, Mr Amarsey and Kamil Hamied, was ably ridden by Kamlesh.

Danse Debonaire set a steady pace as the big field crowding behind started jostling for positions. Kamlesh deftly came around to settle close behind the leader. Kamlesh made a master move just before the final turn as he speeded ahead to establish a handy lead even before the turn.

Starry Brook accelerated well and showed no sign of the long layoff and galloped powerfully ahead. She was all alone in front coming into the homestretch and kicked on gamely to score a facile victory. Oxbrige moved up from the mid-bunch and did well to beat the rest, the winner being overwhelmingly elusive. The run to note was that of Gaabrrio who came from a long way back to snatch the place money from Fireproof.  Starry Brook however, stole the show with an impressive performance and looked good enough to reel a few more wins in the future.  

Jockey Trevor Patel excelled in the saddled winning on five of his six engagements for the day. While it may be said that four of his winners won with consummate ease, he had to pull out all the stops on Senorita Evita. This was the race that saw Trevor in his elements and he exhibited remarkable skill and managed to pull off a sensational last stride victory and down One Kept Secret on the post!

Senorita Evita, the 10/7 on favourite, found herself in the rear as the four rivals shot ahead at the jump. Zander was quickest out and had Greek God and Nuray close behind. One Kept Secret was on the outside in fourth with Senorita Evita little over a length behind.

Both Zander and Greek God had no answer when One Kept Secret surfaced to challenge them. Jockey Sandesh urged One Kept Secret to the front and sailed ahead of the duo. Senorita Evita skirted around horses to make her bid from the outside. She had some catching up to do with about 300 to go. Senorita Evita (Burden of Proof – Si Senora, Kunigal Stud) charged in under Trevor’s urging and soon got alongside One Kept Secret. The latter was right up to the challenge and stuck by all the way to the wire. Trevor despite carrying a two-kilo overweight got the best out of the Pesi Shroff ward and managed to pip One Kept Secret on the wire, the crowd was loud in cheering him as he ‘walked’ Senorita Evita through the aisle on his way back to the winners’ enclosure, showering flowers and bellowing the nicest of compliments with Trevor acknowledging by tipping his helmet peak and nodding acceptance.

Trevor started the day with an ‘armchair’ ride to victory astride Stateira (Burden of Proof – Crown Princess, Kunigal Stud) another overwhelming favourite at cramped odds. He was right up in front and led comfortably all the way into the straight. From thereon, Trevor had to do precious little as Stateira accelerated well to go about her task and keep her rivals at bay. She romped home in style logging her maiden win showing amply that she is maturing quickly and would line up a few more in the future. Aurelio came up, but not only found the winner too good but also could not counter The Messiah to finish a tame third. The Messiah on the other hand dished out his personal best and would take a lot of pluses from this run.

Trevor’s next ride was aboard Harvey (Arazan – OnlyForGold, Villoo’s Greenfield Stud). Both Trevor and Harvey had a point to prove after the loss as favourite in the last start.

Kyoto was the on money favourite and unfortunately clipped with the horse in front and Sandesh sustained a fall. The accident hampered Silvano as well resulting in jockey Kishore Kadam too falling off his mount. Jockey Sandesh who had a fall has fractured his wrist.

Harvey travelled well throughout and got stronger once into the straight. The last outing had had a good impact and desired results as Harvey marched on untroubled, leading one to believe that even if favourite Kyoto had not suffered the accident, he would have found it hard to beat Harvey taking into account the manner with which Harvey romped home.

The Nawab & Begum Faizay Husain Memorial Trophy in memory of the late parents of Begum Shaherbanoo Lagad, attracted a dozen runners. Itscaro, on his last good showing while finishing second to Another Conquest, was installed the prime favourite. Trevor, entrusted with the ride, thrilled the large following with a bullish run in the straight. Joshua had a fair share of race time support as well. However, it was Itscaro all the way once they entered the straight.

Niobrara set off at a good clip and entered the straight with a handy lead. Joshua was right there but failed to pick up required speed. Trevor emerged with Itscaro and the Sunderji ward galloped resolutely to zip past them all and draw away to score an emphatic victory. An encore is not beyond the winner. Niobrara held on to take the second spot even though last start winner Eternal Royalty ran him close. Joshua ended in the frame and can improve in her next. Cha Cha Cha finished one off the frame, covering a lot of ground and notching up several places coming from the rear.

Trevor summed up his memorable day, capping it with a victory astride Dhanyavaad (Black Cash – Si Gentille, Equus Stud) in the concluding race of the day. Setting off to a good start Dhanyavaad capitalized on it and once they turned for home, there was no one who could catch up with the Narendra Lagad trainee. The six-year-old had shown semblance of form in his last outing over seven furlongs and this time did the ‘Full Monty’ to score a decisive win. Sindbaad and Affirmation who finished second and third had no chance to have any say in the race. Fabrizio the second fancy after Dhanyavaad ended a tame fourth.

Remember Me (Ikhtyar – Enaski, Nanoli Stud) finally found his rhythm and scored his third career win, his first success at Pune. Both Remember Me and Desert Wings (runner-up) were off slowly and lost 2-3 lengths at the start. Honest Pleasure was off to a quick start and soon established a good lead galloping at a decent pace. The rest were huddled closed together with Remember Me and Desert Wings keeping each other company at the tail end.

 Honest Pleasure led all the way into the straight with Wentworth looking good close behind. While Desert Wings progressed steadily from the outside, Remember Me slipped in through the rails, jockey Zervan’s patience and persistence paying off when it most mattered. Wentworth squandered a realistic chance of making it, but looked a trifle rusty as he had last raced in March this year. Obviously his recent mock race had not completely blown the cobwebs away. He certainly needed the run.

Remember Me was battle ready. The moment Zervan saw Honest Pleasure weakening, he switched out and zipped past the leader. He grabbed the lead with about a furlong to go and finished on showing a lot of spark. Desert Wings arrived with a late charge, just enough o peg back Wentworth for the runner-up berth. La Traviata ended a quiet fourth, travelling on the outside all the way. She was the widest one in the straight and finished on well to figure in the frame.

Mt Tianmen (Sedgefield – Totally Stormin, Jai Govind Stud) was at longer odds but galloped freely to score a shock win. Not in the best of form in Mumbai, Mt Tianmen with five kilo claimer DS Daman in the saddle was completely over looked in the betting. Desert Lily worked up and nice pace to be up front and with Mt Tianmen. Once they turned for home, Mt Tianmen accelerated well and soon built on the lead to draw away, leaving the rest to fight for the minor placing. True Heir managed to crane her neck in front of Desert Lily to end a decent second. Absolute Jewel just failed to pip Desert Lily for the place money.

For the professionals, Trevor was clearly to hottest star of the day booting home five winners. Trainers Pesi Shroff and SK Sunderji saddled a double each.