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By Mahendra Mallya | 26 Dec 2015 | MUMBAI

Trainer Faisal A Abbas leading Korol (CS Jodha Up), winner of The Crow Gaming Christmas Handicap

Trainer Faisal Abbas reaped rich rewards sending out three winners, each at lucrative odds, while also claiming the Crow Gaming Christmas Trophy, the day’s feature event with Korol (Whipper – Khaliyna, Hazara Stud). Korol went out at 10/1 yet pulled off a smart win with jockey CS Jodha in the saddle.

CS Jodha made an effort to seize the lead within the first furlong and galloped at a decent pace to head them comfortably. Baryshnikov loitered behind the leader for a while before dropping out. Another Ace held good position along the rails to be in striking zone, while favorite Miracle of Love improved to fourth, failing to get off to an ideal start.

Korol entered the straight and stepped on it to build a good lead and never dropped guard thereafter. He sped away and left the others to chase him down if they could. Miracle of Love was the earliest casualty and the followers of the favorite saw no hope even before the Grand stands.

Pearl Secret looked in progressive motion, but had too much ground left to cover. Champagne was hemmed in along the rails and Another Ace was not ‘upping the ante’ either. In the end, Korol found no challenger to trouble him and he swamped the opposition comfortably. Pearl Secret yet again found one better and this should be frustrating. Another Ace did enough to secure place money, while Champagne finished with a fizz to end close behind Another Ace.

Faisal Abbas struck immediately after with Moroccan (Phoenix Tower –Baileys on Line, Manjri Stud) in the next race, again it was jockey CS Jodha who delivered. This one though was not as easy and Jodha had to mind the rider-less Pezzonovante, who shot out of the gates without his rider and was up in front and this always posed a threat to the rest. Fortunately the rest steered clear of him and even his own jockey was safe.

Song of Africa led the field homewards, she was a couple of lengths ahead however, there was a jostle behind her. Millenium Falcon, Moroccan, Veni Vedi Vici and Reality were all scampering for victory. CS Jodha made his way between horses and had to tackle the rider-less runner too. He did well to skirt his way cleanly to take charge in the final furlong. Once in the lead, he finished on strongly to ward off his challengers and win comfortably.  Veni Vidi Vici finished a good second ahead of Reality and Millenium Falcon.

Faisal had saddled his first winner earlier in the day, Azadegan a rank outsider with five-kilo claimer G Amit astride. Azadegan (Arabian Gulf – Statjford, Manjri Stud) had won back to back races in last December and early January this year, but had no recent form to go by. He was back in the lowest class and shot off a stunning upset this time over seven furlongs. His earlier victories were over the longer trips.

Be Cool guided the field into the straight and fell back. Commitment found himself stuck on the rails and jockey SJ Sunil threw caution to the wind in trying to wriggle out of the jam. Azadegan picked his chance and charged ahead with Limekilns and Tennessee were closing in but not fast enough. Sunil rash manoeuvres caused a bit of bumping around and Tennessee was most affected. Azadegan was free of this melee and galloped on to score with something to spare. Commitment ran on after ‘forcing’ a clear passage and made rapid progress to end a close second with Limekilns and Tennessee close behind.

Jockey Sandesh lodged an objection against SJ Sunil for bumping him and also stated that he just about manage to hang on as could have fallen. The objection was duly upheld and Commitment was relegated to the fourth spot.

With the recent fatal fall of DK Ashish, it would be an appropriate if a seminar be conducted for jockeys on safety being applied at all costs. The Club would do well to have prominent former jockeys and such experts to caution and educate the younger lads on finesse and discipline and ensuring avoidable accidents due to rash aggression. After all every sport has its share of mental conditioning as well and to have such counseling sessions at least once a season may prove a positive drive. Jockey DK Ashish’s fall may not have anything to do with rough play, but it does open up the need to educate at least the rookies on maintain a straighter course and other such skills to take a tumble whenever, using presence of mind and the right techniques to remember even in falling off. There are plenty of experts on the subject who would volunteer to conduct such sessions. Why, even the Jockeys’ Association could take up this initiative. Punishments alone may suffice; the younger boys need to be readied for on-the-spur precautionary reactions.

Trainer Pesi Shroff’s promising ward Gestapo (Mastercraftsman – Dajolie, Nanoli Stud) kept his date with victory. No odds were offered on him as if his victory was a foregone conclusion. Gestapo lived up to that belief and scored a clinical victory, thoroughly beating the small set of opponents.

Lavender Blue set off piling on a huge lead with Gestapo, Phenomenal Memory and Wolf Rock following far behind. Gestapo closed in around the turn and paced leisurely past Lavender Blue once in the straight. He won comfortably without extending even as Lavender Blue tried hard to narrow down the margin. Phenomenal Memory failed to rise to the occasion ending a tame third.

Shroff picked up a double with Chef D’Oeuvre (Iffraaj – Aliwiyya, Equus Stud) where jockey Neeraj rode his heart out to carve out a narrow win. The action heated up in the latter half of the straight after Striking Story had faded off on turning for home. Fireproof was right there but could not capitalize. While Majestic and Sabiq were badly stuck for room, Neeraj got going and had Chef D’ Oeuvre eating up ground from the outside. Sumaaq too was making her presence felt not too far from the action.

Chef D’Oeuvre had barely gone into a slender lead when Sabiq flew through between horses and mounted a strong challenge. They fought the last few strides bitterly and in the end, Chef D’Oeuvre managed to stay ahead and win his second successive race. Sabiq fell short by a narrow margin. Sumaaq ran a good race following her victory. Majestic didn’t have the luck of the race and could be given another chance.

Lady Danehill (Arazan – Miss Danehill, Villoo’s Greenfield Stud) won impressively on debut and justified the ‘favorite’ status that was conferred upon her. She was alert at the start and was second quickest, settling behind Monte Greco. Never Say Never stayed a couple of lengths behind the front runners as they turned for home. Lady Danehill quickened well to get past Monte Greco easily. Once she hit the front, she accelerated further ahead opening up a handy lead. Never Say Never took w while before gathering momentum and she finished on fastest. Lady Danehill had by then, sealed the race and never Say Never could only shorten the margin. Monte Greco ran a decent third.

Altaf Hussain trained She is Special (Ace – Rain Splasher, Poona Stud) scored a sensational win to earn her maiden win in her fourth start. What makes the win commendable is that She is Special was well off the pace over the nine-furlong journey and timed her run to perfection to ward off a stiff challenge while winning a hard battle.

Devoted led them all the way into the straight, with Danse Dabonaire and Rain Dance in close pursuit. Once into the straight, Rain Dance was just getting past Devoted and brushing aside Danse Debonaire when She is Special came charging through. Marvel was making a serious bid from the outside. IN the last furlong, She is Special sped ahead with Marvel alongside. However, Sandesh rode out strongly to keep the game challenger in Marvel at bay. Flashing Honour caught the eye, coming from a long way back to finish in the money showing a lot of steam.

Sawgrass (Diktat – Elle Et Moi, Hazara Stud) was another one who earned her winning bracket on her fifth start. She took her time to warm up, but when she did, she unleashed an impressive turn of foot doing extremely well to get past those in front who did have a handy lead even as they dashed into the final furlong.

War Princess led them all into the straight and held sway perhaps, for longer than expected. Carma arrived with a strong challenge and she had no trouble getting past War Princess and taking charge. Just when it looked like Carma had it all covered, Sawgrass with apprentice G Santosh came steaming in and collard Carma and drew away to compile a convincing win.

For the professionals, trainer Faisal Abbas was the shining star of the day having sent out three winners, Pesi Shroff chipped in with a double. Jockey CS Jodha was the lone jockey to log in a double.