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By Mahendra Mallya | 31 Dec 2015 | MUMBAI

Mr Zavaray S Poonawalla & trainer P Shroff leading Maleficent (P S Chouhan Up), winner of The P D Bolton Trophy

Maleficent (Iffraaj – Mufradat, Exhilaration Stud) bounced back to winning ways shrugging off her last start close-finish loss. Maleficent chased the front running pair of Deep Diver and Ravello until well into the homestretch. While Ravello packed up, Deep Diver kicked on spiritedly with Maleficent gaining ground approaching the distance post. Maleficent, with jockey PS Chouhan in the saddle, quickened well to zip past Deep Diver and then accelerate further to draw away in the final 100 meters. Maleficent not only won comfortably, but also clocked the best ever timing – 57:41 beating the recent 57:45 that Mine Forever had timed just over a week ago.

The talk of the day was the objection against Be Fifty Two being upheld and Khayyam getting the race to win the New Year’s Eve Trophy. On the face of it, Khayyam (Arazan – Yomalo, Villoo’s Greenfield Stud), on a start to finish mission, was chased down by Be Fifty Two in the straight. Be Fifty Two was certainly gaining ground and made up the couple of lengths that he was lagging behind Khayyam. Be Fifty Two got alongside Khayyam with a furlong to go and looked to be travelling better of the two. He got past Khayyam and when he was about to speed away, which is when Be Fifty Two ducked in whereby Trevor had to check his mount. The replays showed Trevor checking his horse dramatically, while Be Fifty Two shrugged the blemish and kicked away to score by over two lengths.

Trevor immediately lodged an objection stating the facts and accusing jockey Sandesh of veering in dangerously. The stewards interviewed both the jockeys concerned and while Trevor sounded a lot more convincing, Sandesh was feeble in defence. While it was clear that Khayyam indeed got a check due to Be Fifty Two ducking in, it was more than apparent that Be Fifty Two was the superior horse on the day. If one considers whether Khayyam would have won had the incident not occurred, the answer would be comprehensively negative. Sandesh was not charged for dangerous riding either until now at least. Besides, majority of the stipes had suggested that it was accidental and in their respective opinion, the objection be overruled. The Stewards, though, viewed it differently and ruled to uphold Trevor’s objection and reverse the judge’s placing, taking away the race from Be Fifty Two and awarding it to Khayyam, which was a tad too harsh on the original winner. Nevertheless, one can’t wish away the technical point either.

Aurelio (Phoenix Tower – Athlone, Manjri Stud) carved out a well fought victory in another rough race. At the start, Aurelio wasn’t the quickest out and he did well to regain position improving all the while along the rails.

Simon Says guided them into the straight and soon Aurelio surfaced from the inner rails to grab the lead. Indus Prince and Alfonso made their move at the same juncture and with Aurelio rushing up to take the lead there sure was a lot of jostling around. Aurelio worked up a slender lead with Indus Prince tagging along, Alfonso was right behind and Flying Dragon warming up not too far away. Aurelio however, stayed his ground and in the end, won well. Flying Dragon arrived with a late flourish and finished alongside the winner. Indus Prince and Alfonso took the minor placing in a scramble of a finish.

Objections followed for interference and taking ground, but this time they held no water with the stewards. Two objections were taken, and both were duly overruled.

Trainer Vishal Gaikwad sent out a sound well-backed double, picking up the first and last races of the day. Vishal’s charge Allee Bleue (Invincible Spirit – Accessorize, Nanoli Stud) had apprentice Zeeshan astride and the lad overcame immense pressure to land the spoils. Allee Bleue‘s main rival Name of the Game had a useful lead coming into the straight and Allee Bleue had some catching up to do. Zeeshan was taking on Trevor and that was a big task for the rookie. Allee Bleue was fighting hard and with Zeeshan egging her on, she was closing in. However, she began to shift out under pressure and that was a concern. However, Zeeshan was focused and gave his all to ensure he caught the leader in the nick of time to wrest the advantage a stride or two from the wire.

Kandinsky (Dutch Art – Katavi, Nanoli Stud) too had a fight on his hand but he grew stronger at the finish and won a touch more comfortably than his first runner. Espada and Dancing Prince led the field homewards, with Aeolus Maximus right up with them. Few Dollars More and Kandinsky made their move at the same juncture and fought it out in the last furlong and half. They were going stride for stride until the last fifty meters after which Kandinsky finished on with that little extra. He won by a length to spare with Chouhan showing out equally well.

Narendra Lagad trained Allegiance (Oath – Baaderah, Pratap Stud) edged out his younger rival in a very close finish and the crowd witnessed a gripping battle. Allegiance had taken a runaway lead most of the way. Jordana improved quickly and was not too far from the leader on turning for home. Once into the straight, this pair left the others behind and they were going neck n neck. Jordana seemed to have got the measure of Allegiance but the seasoned campaigner fought back hard and managed to shove his nose to the wire in a cracker of a finish. Apprentice Jockeys Bhawani Singh and Ajinkya rode their hearts out and provided a thrilling and prolonged tussle.

Cataleya (Multidimensional – Farrfesheena, Usha Stud) had a memorable debut and justified the favoritism conferred upon her only on her track workouts. They were heading for a keen finish when Honey Dew moved along the rails to join early leader Voulez Vous with Cataleya powering forward from the outside. Voulez Vous ducked out of the fight sooner than expected; however, Honey Dew was not giving up too easily. Jockey Yash Narredu had a task in stopping Cataleya drifting out, and the lad did well in checking the drifting out. He then pushed out and in the final 100 meters Cataleya drew away from Honey Dew to post a convincing win on debut.

For the professionals, trainers Pesi Shroff and Vishal Gaikwad saddled a double each, while jockey PS Chouhan rode out a double as well.