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By Mahendra Mallya | 17 Oct 2015 | PUNE

Mr. Nazir Shaikh & trainer Rehanullah Khan leading Highlander (Trevor Patel Up), winner of The Suresh Mahindra Trophy

Rehanullah Khan trained Highlander (Ivory touch – Happy Queen, Mare Haven Stud) owned by Mr Nazir Shaikh was ridden to record breaking triumph by Trevor. The top notch jockey also logged his personal best for a single season – 49 victories (with two race days still to go), equaling Malesh Narredu’s record at Pune in the process.

The Suresh Mahindra Trophy, run over the longest distance in the country (3200m), culminated in a thrilling finish. The pace from the start was a steady one as Al Shamsheer took the initiative, followed by Caesars Star, Highlander, Rodeo and Grenadine. This order remained unchanged all the way into the straight, when the race came to a boil.

Al Shamsheer fought on until well into the straight but wilted when Caesars Star and Grenadine posted a dual challenge. Rodeo found the weight (62 kgs) too much to cope and was never in contention. Highlander finished on full of steam and collared the fighting duo of Caesars Star and Grenadine to whizz past them aggressively in the final 100 and score an impressive victory. Highlander clocked 3:33:75 chipping off nearly five seconds off the course record timing held since 1992 by Desert Rose (3:38:00). Highlander, in all probability will not only hold on to this record for a while, but is most likely to defend his title next year as well.

Trevor had earlier guided debutant Nifty (Multidimensional – Artword, Usha Stud) to victory to clinch the E. d’Avoine Trophy warming up late in the straight to peg back Rain Dance. The latter ran a good race leading from the start and quickening well in the straight, only to see that valiant effort go down close home. Nifty was impressive considering it was her debut run and could not have got a better ride with Trevor on board. Trevor nursed the Shroff trained filly and opened up only in the final furlong. Nifty got going in the final 100 meters and surged ahead of Rain Dance to seal the issue sparing half a length at the wire. Nifty looks a good prospect and will add a few in Mumbai.

Ageless (Arazan – Lindsay, Poonawalla Astonish Stud) escaped to victory with a last stride surge to pip Strategic Move on the post. Ageless seemed to have lost her edge as she entered the homestretch with a slender lead. Strategic Move joined the leader and the waged a ding-dong battle all the way upthe straight. Strategic Move was giving his all and looked to have the slight upper hand past the stands, but jockey Suraj Narredu snatch victory on the final stride to just nose out Strategic Move on the nod. Egyptiana arrived with a late run, but found the top two too hot to handle.

Jockey CS Jodha started off rattling a back-to-back double early in the day, winning the first two races. He struck with favourites Striking Story and Stroganoff.

Striking Story (Mr Mellon – Strike It right, Ruia Stud) was bullish in the latter half of the race and took the lead long before the turn. He entered the straight full of running and galloped further away in the homestretch. He quickly amassed a decisive lead and was in no danger coming into the final furlong. Striking Story, trained by B Prakash, won sparing more than four lengths. Red fort ran on to take the runner-up berth ahead of Sky Lantern and Resilient.

Stroganoff (Glory of Dancer – Shockwave, Nanoli Stud) was running exactly after a year, despite the lay-off the Faisal Abbas ward received overwhelming support in the ring backed further down from 7/10 on to half money at race time. He justified the support dishing out a facile win without causing any anxiety to his backers.

Stroganoff sailed into the lead taking over from Padmakosa and Reality past the 1000 m mark. Jodha had to do precious little as Stroganoff galloped fluently right through. He entered the straight and then stormed ahead to win drawing away. Reality ended a tame second while Flynn fought off Miracle of Love for the third spot.

Dazzle N Daze (Sedgefield – Dahlin, Jai Govind Stud) was ably ridden by jockey Joy Chinoy to score a facile win over 2000 m. Joy competently got to the front at the turn and then was quick to get past long time leader Stalwart and Yodha Shakti to take charge early in the straight. Dazzle N Daze had a lot in the tank and galloped away to build a huge lead and with no threat in sight, Joy won easing up on Dazzle N Daze. Jordana warmed up far too late and ended second by a little over two lengths.

Magnum Opus (Diffident – Winged Light, Yeravada Stud) scored an encore and this victory was even more impressive than his last. Dashrath Singh had him in the mid bunch and got his up well inside the homestretch. By then Hirohama had taken over the running and was galloping towards the winning post. However, Hirohama failed to capitalize on the handy lead he had in the final furlong, and had no answer to the blazing finish with which the Narendra Lagad trainee arrived past the Grand Stands. Magnum Opus romped home in style and it would be worth following him in Mumbai as well. Praelector improved in the straight to snatch the runner-up spot from Hirohama.

Yash Narredu ridden Make Way For Me (Mizzen Mast – Melody Maker, Gee Stud) had to churn up all his speed to down a stubborn Natural gift in a close finish. Natural gift galloped well and looked on course when he sailed past Brown Dynamite to go into the lead. He surged ahead in the straight and soon Make Way For Me got down to chasing the leader. Make Way for Me charged in with a strong run and Yash had  a battle on his hands. He got past Natural Gift but the latter stuck on to stretch the battle. IN the end, Make Way For Me galloped relentlessly to score by a neck. Siddhi managed to stay ahead of RapidGirl for the place money.

For the professionals, jockeys P Trevor and CS Jodha scored a double each.