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By Mahendra Mallya | 20 Sep 2015 | PUNE

Mr Geoffrey B. Nagpal leading Jefferson (Dashrath Singh Up), winner of The S A Poonawalla Multi-Million (Gr.3)

The SA Poonawalla Multi-Million (Gr3) bore testimony of the suspense and excitement that the sport of horseracing brings about. Amidst the music, partying and some dazzling prizes for the contest of skill that’s open the racing public, two professionals stood out on the day. Trainer Narendra Lagad and jockey Dashrath Singh were in their elements dishing out victory after victory and dominated the aisle leading in their winners with pride and receiving noisy cheer from the crowd.

The star of the day had to be Jefferson (Ravel – Crystal Slipper, Chhatari Stud) who put in a terrific stretch-run to shock favourite Continental in the closing moments of the race.

Continental chose to dictate terms and settled down nicely to maintain a comfortable lead with Jigsaw and Fearless Nadia racing together a couple of lengths behind, Airco, Bold Appeal were net, with Jefferson at the tail end all the way.

Continental kicked on well on turning for home and with Fearless Nadia and Jigsaw dropping back alarmingly, it appeared that the favourite was heading to an expected win. Airco was struggling to stay afloat and Bold Appeal too was laboring to stay in the reckoning. Jefferson then started to accelerate and approaching the distance post, started to snatch the attention. Continental was still a couple of lengths ahead with less than a furlong to go. Jockey Dashrath Singh got the Sunderji trained colt going at top speed in the final 100 to launch a massive finishing effort and eventually caught Continental a stride or two from the winning post. Jefferson’s final burst did Continental in and he had to take the runner-up berth.

“I am delighted with the way he came from behind to snatch a superlative win,” said owner Mr Geoffrey Nagpal.” A change of equipment worked wonders and I felt Dashrath rode his heart out and judged the pace to a nicety. Jefferson is special to me as we share our birth date. I thought to name him Birthday Boy occurred spontaneously; however, I like to restrict the name of my horses it to a one word name. My wife suggested Jefferson and here we are, delighted at his performance today”. Asked if was going to take a crack at the Pune Derby, Mr Geoffrey shook his head and said, “We will give the Pune Derby a miss and take a crack at the Indian 2000 Guineas. 

Coming to the conquests of ‘BIG’ boy Narendra Lagad and jockey Dashrath Singh, they started the day on the right note with a sensational victory with jewel (Chevalier – Spica, Ruia Stud) in the day’s first race.

Jewel was not in the picture as Pezzonovante stormed homewards with what looked a power-packed run. Glorious Crown was struggling in second with Hunting Pleasure making a run along the rails and Kickboxer too putting in an all out effort, with about a furlong to go. Dashrath Singh arrived with Jewel in full flow to zip past them all in a trice to leave the field cold, in a dramatic finishing dash. He simply dominated the final furlong to post a dazzling victory. Pezzonovante held on for the second spot from the fast finishing Hunting Pleasure.

Their second success on the day was another spectacular finish involving Naren’s old timer and lesser fancied Savage Garden and Savage Beauty. Savage Garden entered the straight with a slender lead and he galloped on gamely all through to the wire. Savage beauty was in chase and he was making an all out effort to keep within striking distance. The well-backed favourite Starry Brooke disappointed as he ran out of steam when the race came to a boil. Savage Beauty ridden strongly by Suraj Narredu joined Savage Garber with about 150 meters left of the 2400 m race. Both Dashrath Singh and Suraj gave it all and hit the wire together. The judge took his time and finally declared a dead-heat.

Daytona (Multidimensional – Celestial Treasure, Manjri Stud) was another one for the day that the two pros combined to draw success.  Favourite Godspeed failed once again to start well and lost all her chances at the gates. She did recover, but it had taken its toll. Forever Yours showed good early speed and led the field into the straight. She accelerated well once into the homestretch but Daytona gathered momentum briskly to come up with threatening strides in the last 100 meters to peg back Forever Yours close home. Godspeed ended a good third.

Naren-Dashrath signed off the day with another splendid victory with Alfonso (Kingda Ka – Bongusto, Nanoli Stud).  Armel guided the field home and had a handy lead. Favourite name of the Game never looked in contention as Alfonso moved up from the mid-pack to warm up nicely approaching the distance post. Dashrath shifted into top gear and Alfonso responded with a terrific dash to draw away in the final furlong. Rapid Girl improved well towards the second half of the straight to finish a good second. Armel did well to save the place money.

Trainer Vishal Geakwad too had a successful day winning two races in contrasting fashion. His ward Babylon (Glory of Dancer – Bravissima, Nanoli Stud) made ample amends this time with a scorching run in the straight to be one among the most impressive winner on the day. Big Bro brought the field homewards with Stand and Dance and Few Dollars More in chase. Just when either of the two could hope to take over the lead, Babylon arrived with a dazzling turn of foot to simply leave them look pedestrian. The final burst that Babylon unleashed was most inspiring and the filly now looks good for an encore.  

Fibonacci Sequence (Ad Velorem – Lizzey Letti, Capricorn Stud) had to fight all the way and made up rapid ground to do so. Alderley Edge was in charge in the straight, but soon had An Jolie wearing him down. The Rehan ward looked good as he raced past horses and went for the kill. Just when it looked like he had it covered, Fibonacci Sequence, with Malcom Kharadi in the saddle arrived to pip An Jolie on the post.

Trainer Sunderji celebrated his success with Jefferson in the SA Poonawalla Multi-Million with another win just after sending out Harvey to an impressive win. Jockey Trevor settled Harvey along the rails in fifth but close to the leaders. Make Way for Me was in second behind Then and Now and on the outside Flying Show too was prominent.

Trevor was quick to shift lanes and get to the outside at the turn to ensure a clear passage for the favourite who was carrying the top weight. Harvey was in complete command once Trevor got his going and won easing up. Flying Show fought a losing battle all through and ended up third behind Make Way For Me, who looked good taking the runner-up spot.

Nirad Karanjawala trained Awesome Knight (Chevalier – Starry, Ruia Stud) snatched a very narrow win on the last stride. Royal Éclair led them into the straight with Stalwart breathing down her neck. Stalwart soon went past the leader and travelled well to surge ahead. Awesome Knight with CS Jodha started to cover ground at a good rate and was closing in rapidly. Stalwart too was not giving up and was galloping at a good clip. It took all from Jodha and Awesome Knight to put it across Stalwart who can consider himself a trifle unlucky to lose the plot so closely.

For the professionals, trainer Narendra Lagad was the star of the day with four wins including the dead-heat, trainers Sunderji and Vishal Geakwad saddled a double each. Jockey Dashrath Singh was brilliant booting home five winners. Trevor, was steady with a double.