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By Ikram Khan | 06 Mar 2016 | CHENNAI

Mrs Sharmila Padmanabhan, Col. Swapan Bhadra & trainer S Padmanabhan leading Desert God (David Allan Up), winner of The Indian Turf Invitation Cup (Gr.1)

You got to doff your hat to champion trainer S Padmanabhan.  He consistently produces the magic moments that stun his rivals. Be it, In The Spotlight, the best filly to race in the century-year-old Indian racing history or Becket who stunned another all-time great filly Jacqueline in a thriller in the Invitation Cup in Mumbai a couple of years ago and a number of others who entered the Hall of Fame from his yard, Padmanabhan is one who knows how and when to deliver the knock-out blow in the big heavyweight contest.

After he put to shame the many old hats in the game from Mumbai who made no secret of their opinion that Desert God lacked the class required to beat the best in the Ultra Indian Derby in Mumbai, Padmanabhan popularly known as Paddy in the racing circles revealed that he had the best chance to win the Invitation Cup. The leading pro and the Scottish professional David Allan who produced two stellar performances knew that Desert God was on top of his game and that the best horse on the circuit Quasar and the other star performer Be Safe making a comeback after a long lay-off would find it hard to give him four kilos and a beating.  Paddy and David were proved right. David brought down the Goliath and God he did it again was the shock reaction from the many pundits who had opined that Quasar would have it easy in the mega event.

David Allan produced another top drawer effort on the Champion of Champions.  The leading `Knight’ who has struck a win-all partnership with Desert God piloted the champion despite suffering a painful ankle ligament tear at the jump on Lord Darlington on Saturday.  David disclosed that though the ankle hurt he was not going to miss out on the big ride.

David knew that the gain in sight was much bigger than the pain and he pulled himself up and he did it.  It was champion stuff and the Chennai racing buffs provided the winners a standing ovation despite the fact that the sentimental favourite Be Safe could only finish third in his comeback trial.

Quasar rightly opened the even-money favourite in the big match-up before money came pouring in on Be Safe and Desert God too had a fair share of his supporters who simply believed that the four kilos advantage the younger horses enjoy in this champion event works to their advantage.  It again proved right, Quasar in a class of his own going down after maintain a record winning streak in the last 10 months.  Though many were of the view that had the connections of Quasar chosen a more experienced and a more powerful rider for the summit clash the all-time great would have posted his second straight Invitation success, it must be mentioned that the young Yash Narredu who has struck a winning partnership with Quasar produced another fine effort and none could have done better.

The best looking contestant in the parade ring was the local main hope Be Safe. He attracted big local support and that was reflected in the betting ring, the Robert Foley ward closing at (9/4) after opening at (9/2). Though Be Safe Safe showed tremendous improvement over his efforts during the summer season in Bangalore while nosing out the double Derby winner Angel Dust for the third spot, it was clear that the Indian Derby winner requires more time and space to regain the fitness and form that he paraded in Mumbai last year.  

Padmanabhan while lauding the effort of David said that he was confident that Desert God would emerge on top as the strong colt enjoyed his travel and was only getting better and better after each fight.

 ``David Allan rode a splendid race and was able to win the battle of wits against a super horse like Quasar.’’  said Paddy who began his career as a trainer at Chennai in the 80s.

The Usha Stud Farm bred Myrtlewood who had run Desert God close in the Indian Derby won the Maj P K Mehra Memorial Super Mile event without raising a sweat. The filly from Pesi Shroff’s yard who emerged the most successful pro winning five races was head and shoulders above the rest this classy daughter of Multidimensional readily donkey-licked her rivals without unduly extending herself. Bold Command finished second ahead Machiavellianism. Incidentally the dam of Myrtlewood had won this event way back in 2001 in a record time of 1:35.43 seconds and for the record Myrtlewood clocked 1:37.17 for the mile long effortless exercise.

Pesi Shroff trained Your Royal Majesty, another progeny of Multidimensional, slammed the opposition in the Suresh Mahindra Multi-Million Trophy. The on-money favourite produced a winning gallop in the final furlong to snuff out the challenge of Pentagram in a record time, clocking 1:23.91 seconds.

Persian Prince was another from the strong stable of Pesi Shroff who proved too good in the Dr M A M Ramaswamy Memorial Gold Cup. Leading pro Pradeep Chouhan astride the winner hit the front the moment the 11-horse field came under the starter’s flag and never let the initiative slip before romping home in what appeared a common canter.

Mysore trainer Somashekar pulled off a good winner through Grand Success in the Sans Craintes Stud Million. The winner strongly piloted by John edged out   Soothsayer while the Dominic schooled One Big Gang failed to display his true potential. The public rage who is a speedy customer could never get to the front and it was a shocking below par effort.

Neil Darashah trained Colorato had no problem in keeping Allez Royale at bay in the MRC Bookmakers Million. The Radiance Reality Developers India Limited Million was won by Sebastian schooled City of Song who produced a sparkling gallop at the distance post to peg back the effort of the strongly fancied Badshah from Mysore.

The concluding event, the Royal Western India Turf Club Million provided a fitting finale to the extravaganza, the heavily backed Dazzling Bay and the well supported Zucchero locked in a dead-heat for the top spot.