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By Mahendra Mallya | 06 Sep 2015 | PUNE

Trainer S K Sunderji leading One Kept Secret (Neeraj Rawal Up), winner Akkasaheb Maharaj Trophy (Gr.3)

The Akkasaheb Maharaj Trophy (Gr 3) lived up to the’ thriller expectations’ and saw a tight three-horse-finish. Dancing Phoenix took a flier from the gates and led comfortably with Way Out chasing a couple of lengths behind. Then followed the quartet comprising Zander, Brynhill, Visionist and One Kept Secret, Dancing Prances joined this bunch from the outside, with Victorious March on his inside. Nefyn and Ladybird were at the tail end of the field.

Dancing Phoenix continued his quest and on straightening up, surged forward to secure a handy lead. Brynhill started to inch closer improving with each stride. Way Out fell back while One Kept Secret switched lanes seeking a clear run. Luckily for him jockey Neeraj Rawal made his forward move just in time beating Dancing Prances who could have blocked his passage. Neeraj did not wait a second longer and shifted One kept Secret to top gear and the Sunderji trained gelding responded commendably to close in on the fighting duo in front. Brynhill got the measure of Dancing Phoenix, but only just. However, he could not thwart the lethal assault from One Kept Secret. Neeraj Rawal was at his best and focused throughout the race and timed his run to perfection to bag the prestigious sprint race. One kept Secret (Phoenix Tower – Bonjour Tristesse, Equus Stud) is owned by Mr Rakesh Mongia.

Dancing Prances ended a decent fourth and he was conceding chunks of weight. This showing was much better than his last and he surely is regaining his touch. Nefyn did well to finish one off. Class alone got him that close to the action as he was hopelessly positioned all through to the turn. If the veteran nine-year-old adds one more to his win-tally, it should not come as a surprise.

Shadowfax (Multidimensional – River Memories, Usha Stud) justified the strong support he received and with Trevor to guide him, he pulled off a polished victory, knocking off a determined bid from Jazzmyn.

Master of Trinity got off to a good start and led the field with Jazzmyn close behind. Shadowfax settled in fourth with Dr Zhivago and Night of Stars on either side. Perl Secret and the rest followed close behind.

Into the straight, Master of Trinity failed to capitalise on a good start and simply petered out. Jazzmyn took charge but was soon challenged and passed by Shadowfax. Shadowfax finished on strongly to sustain it all the way and notch up his first victory. Jazzmyn although beaten, stuck by the winner to finish a good close second. MultiGlory improved places to take the third spot ahead of Romano.

Trevor had earlier partnered Via Amoris (Royal Gladiator – Callisto, Pratap Stud) to a delightful victory, producing a scintillating burst.  He was off to a quick start and then settled behind Ukulele, Star Lightning and Blue Flame. Favourite Zabisco got a bad check and nearly stumbled and this put paid to his chances.

Turning for home, Ukulele tried to surge ahead, but soon Via Amoris emerged between horses to take charge and then accelerated beautifully to shut the opposition out completely. The MK Jadhav ward showed much improvement over his last successful run and the encore was an impressive performance. Diashonin came from behind to take the second spot with an eye-catching run. Cold Play and Aleta ended alongside Diashonin for the minor placing.

Jockey Joy Chinoy has been in good touch of late and his Sunday’s double was jaw-dropping. He first partnered friendless Helping Hand (Multidimensional – Fingers Crossed, Usha Stud) to a shock victory, beating three heavily fancied opponents with ease.

Rule Downunder, Congressional and El Camino hogged all the betting while Helping Hand and Midnight Dancer were at asking odds. Midnight Dancer led the field all the way into the straight with Congressional chasing the leader. Rule Downunder was third while Helping Hand and El Camino kept each other company in the rear.

Congressional took his time getting past a reluctant Midnight Dancer well into the straight. Rule Downunder could not find his best and struggled to show any fight. Helping Hand started to improve and came up with a steady run to challenge Congressional. The latter offered some resistance but was clearly short of a race run. Helping Hand finished with a flourish to win handsomely. Congressional may have disappointed this time, but will strip fitter for his next. Rule Downunder was lacklustre as was El Camino. Midnight Dancer did not do too badly and he might strike form soon as well.

The best of Joy Chinoy came astride Pepito (Kingda Ka – Accentuate, Nanoli Stud) when he made a dramatic appearance in the final few strides, rising from the dead last position to shock the field in the dying moments of the race.

Hot favourite Belgian Blue seemed right on course as she matched strides for the lead with Sugar Bay until the turn. However, he looked distressed under pressure and soon faded out. Ashrafie surged charging ahead and picked up nicely. Free Speech then shifted gears to challenge he leader and as these two were battling at top speed, Pepito arrived with a long stretch run and his timing couldn’t have been better. He arrived with an electrifying run to pip Free Speech and Ashrafie on the wire.

Trainer ’s CD Katrak Bullrun (China Visit – You Are My Miracle, Usha Stud) pulled off a comfortable start to finish run, winning end to end untroubled.  He took off and build a sizable lead and maintained a steady pace all through the 2000m journey.

Once into the straight, Bullrun with Kamlesh in the saddle, showed plenty of steam and when Phenomenal Memory tried to challenge him, he had plenty to offer as he kept the challenger safely at bay, to win by a little over a length. Square Moon was a shadow of his last run and did not make any impact in the race. Samba Warrior too could not match up and must have found the distance a bit too long to handle.  

Moneywise (Iffiraaj – Amount, Nanoli Stud) was backed confidently ahead of Alfredo who had a decent run this season. He justified the faith reposed on him, galloping away to a very easy victory; this despite a not too quick start and having to improve positions right through the race.

Alfredo and Royal Sapphire entered the straight together, with Hypothesis and Victory Dancer too lurking alongside. Moneywise skirted around these four and once they straightened up, Moneywise unleashed a fast gallop to win drawing away. Trainer AM Jadhav who is son of veteran MK Jadhav had tuned the bay perfectly and his effort showed on the track. Moneywise won convincingly and should add on. Hypothesis did well to finish ahead of Alfredo.

Joshua (Noverre – Sharatila, Sohna Stud) produced his best and his assertive gallop put paid to the hopes of Valentino who too ran a good race. Born to Win dropped the rider at the gates. Niobrara and Antartica Zone were the joint leaders until the straight, blitzkrieg a close third with Valentino and Joshua racing together just behind.

Blitzkrieg received a bad check at a crucial stage and all he could do was salvage a third place having to switch lanes and re-run. Valentino had surged past the leader and was looking good to make a race of it, when Joshua found his touch and finished with a burst of speed to down Valentino in the final stages.

A big gamble came unstuck on Oriental Rocky, who was travelling handily all throughout and took charge early in the straight. He seemed right on course until the final furlong, which is when Affirmation (Ace – Princess Xena, Poonawalla Stud) arrived with a smooth stretch run to overhaul the favourite in the final moments. Marioshka who was never prominent, improved gradually to take the third place.

For the professionals, jockeys, P Trevor, PS Chouhan and J Chinoy scored a double each.