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Vijay Shirke Comes to the 'Four'

By North-End | 31 Aug 2008 | PUNE


The Shirkes had every reason to shriek with delight as Sunday's races turned out to be a bonanza for them. Out of the nine races slated for the day, the Shirkes won four and Il Divo picked up the runner's-up berth in the Goel Ganga Million, the main event. The already slim owner would have further lost a few lbs walking about from the paddock to his box then to the track and back to the paddock leading in horses on the four occasions. "I couldn't have asked for more," a beaming Vijay said after the last race. "To be honest, this doesn't actually come as a surprise, not even Mr. Greedy's victory, although he was considered a rank outsider. My horses were in the pink of condition and were ready to strike," a visibly cheerful Vijay added. When asked if anything would make him happier on the racing front, Shirke was quick to shoot, "Yes, of course, a victory in the Derby." The Shirkes had an auspicious start to the day's proceedings with Mr. Greedy bagging the first race with a fair measure of comfort. Mr. Greedy, living up to his name, began hogging turf the moment the starter hit the button. He worked up a nice rhythm and built a sizeable lead as they turned for home. Classic Spirit moved to second but found the leader elusive. Mr.Greedy (Placerville–Angel Heights) kicked on and won comfortably sparing a good 3½ lengths to Classic Spirit. Lovely Feelings made progress to get into place money. Another forward run should strip the Shah-trained mare fitter. Liverpool (Alnasr Alwasheek–Lady Marchetta) came out of his recent sluggish performances and dished out an authoritative win to give Shirke's trainer Mania Jadhav a back-to-back double. Settling to chase Rubaiyat, the early leader, Liverpool, travelling well in hand till turn, was turned loose by jockey Malesh Narredu soon on straightening for home. Liverpool accelerated well and drew away from the rest to romp home in style indicating that an extra furlong would not be beyond him. Firecracker came from the rear to end a good second relegating his more fancied stablemate Rubaiyat to third. It could pay to keep Firecracker in mind later this season. Shirke's third win of the day came from the stables of trainer Pesi Shroff. This one was truly a fashionable victory as Recardo, offered at cramped odds, decimated the opposition with complete disregard. Recardo.(Placerville–Castle Park) settled right behind Full Faith, had Kapathos for company and Highland Bounty close behind. Into the straight, Recardo simply bounded ahead and Rajendra just gave him a couple of taps approaching the distance post. Recardo sped away quickening nicely in the process to win convincingly thus avenging his debut loss to Highland Bounty. The latter was a shadow of his last run and was never in the hunt. The one to catch the eye was the late finishing Barbara who ended a notable third alongside Kapathos. The icing on the cake for the Shirkes came in the last race of the day when hotly fancied on money favourite Blue Mountain (Razeen–Stolen Kisses) scored an effortless victory without being extended. Chasing Lone Trojan till the half way stage, Blue Mountain took charge thereon with Indian Summer also improving to run close behind. In the straight, Blue Mountain began to stride well and stepped up the momentum which was too quick for Indian Summer to keep up. Rajendra just helped the bay colt along, tapped her just once and eased up with some distance still to travel. Indian Summer was easily the next best and Equality finished third without making much impression. Blue Mountain was very impressive and the showers that preceded the race did slow down the timing considerably. The manner of victory, however, was remarkable. Bee Quick (Elnadim–Eubee) was too good for Il Divo and the rest and reproduced her debut run to win the Goel Ganga Million in a fashionable manner. To me, Bee Quick's victory was the most impressive of the day. The bay filly, owned by the Ruias, sailed into the lead, the widest draw notwithstanding, and literally toyed with speedy rivals like Il Divo, Highland Bounty and Artistical who are all front-runners. Just before the 800-metre post, Sophie stumbled and fell dislodging jockey SS Rathore. The riderless horse galloped on and may have alarmed Secret Admirer just a little bit at the turn. Bee Quick, meanwhile, entered the straight on a tight rein even as IL Divo and the pack went all out. Bee Quick simply outclassed the rest and only past the distance post did jockey Neeraj give her a precautionary rap on her haunches which was not needed. Bee Quick has all the potential to develop into a good sprinter and should be in the reckoning in her next run as well. The SR Captain Trophy was considered to be a close fight between Spirituall and Fair Tactics. However, the top-weighted Ming (Binkhaldoun–Cat's Concert) came into a galloping mood that devastated the pair in full flight – Fair Tactics and Arkhos. Spiritual, racing in the mid-bunch got past the front-runners to just put his head in front of Fair Tactics at the top of the straight. The duo began to match strides but approaching the distance post Arkhos was fast catching up. Spirituall could not sustain and the new challenger to Fair Tactics was Arkhos and the two were all out and fighting tooth and nail. Ming suddenly came on to the scene and collared the duo to have his nose in front timing his finish to perfection. However, the one to focus on was Tigress Noire who lost ground at the start and was a detached last about four lengths adrift of the field all through and was the last one to turn for home. Tigress Noire finished on very well and was a commendable fourth edging out Oyster Princess for a place in the frame. Note this filly especially over an extended trip. Spirituall who hogged most of the betting (was backed down to 9/10 at race time) clearly did not measure up and disappointed. Fair Tactics and Arkhos put up a brave fight and went down fighting. Tigress Noire is my pick for her terrific homerun! Premier Queen (Placerville–Frost Queen) was the hot favourite in this bunch. A lot of money came on Toofan Mail as well. In the race, Toofan Mail was no match to the Imtiaz filly and went down tamely. Premier Queen hit the front soon on start and got even better after the turn. Nirmal Jodha had little to do but nurse the filly homewards. At no stage was there any threat lurking and Premier Queen didn't spend much energy while coasting to a very easy victory. The others struggled, all of them but Arbudh. Now, Arbudh (late Gusti Egli) had a very easy run as well. He was languishing closer to the horses in the rear than the front-runners, and in the straight galloped past them all to run a very easy second. This is a run to remember and Arbudh needs watching in the near future particularly over the current sprint or even a furlong longer. This was indeed his very suggestive run. In a similar bunch, discounting the winner, he is a cinch! Sparta, after her impressive win last time, was expected to score an encore. That was not to be as Golden Spurs (Mr. Mellon–Lek) spurted spiritedly in the final stages to wrest the issue from Xiamen who nearly held on all the way. Sparta who was following close behind Xiamen simply didn't quicken and the weight told, I reckon. Golden Spurs, whom jockey Pradeep held close to the tightly packed front-bunch, got him on the wider outside and began covering rapid ground past the 200 metres. In the final furlong, Golden Spurs joined Xiamen and the two were engaged in a brief duel, but Golden Spurs was certainly travelling better and prevailed by a narrow margin from the stubborn Xiamen. Vijayi Bhave came from a long way back but was hard ridden and all out to finish alongside Sparta to claim the fourth spot. Kiss Away, the pre-race favourite, buckled and sat awkwardly in the starting gates and got badly stuck for quite a while. Stellar Affair too was found unfit to race and two fancied horses were withdrawn at the gates. At the start, Raquel and Festive Light were not too alert and lost some ground. Heifitz was sluggish all through and Malesh had a rough time getting him to go. He was seen whipping the horse even in the first furlong and was constantly making an effort to get him to focus on the race. Don't Be Silly and Pure For Sure only escorted the field homewards and faded away. Premier Perception (Placerville–Moving Image) didn't look fully prepared but galloped gamely and won by a good margin despite being a bit erratic. Tearaway was never really too far from the action and did well to hold Heifitz for the second spot. Tearaway also looked a little rusty and may need another run. Raquel showed signs of gaining a lot from this run and finished on well to end fourth despite having to move around horses and shift out in the final stages. Elemento Angel did not spend much energy and something could be brewing for her sooner than later. As mentioned, it was certainly Vijay Shirke's day having led in four winners and Il Divo getting the runner's-up spot in the big one of the day. Trainers MK Jadhav and Pesi Shroff scored a double each as did jockeys C Rajendra and Nirmal Jodha.