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By Mahendra Mallya | 07 Aug 2016 | PUNE

Trainer Karthik Ganapathy leading Strategic Move (David Breux Up), winner of The Pune Bookmakers Association Turf Club Trophy (Gr.3)

That the Pune Bookmakers Association Turf Club Trophy was a thriller was the universally belief. The lineup had recent champions and aspiring ones too, but the one who eventually brought home the baton created a flutter. Strategic Move (Dancing Forever – Springbrakemistake, Hazara Stud) timed his run like a dream and even managed to stay ahead and thwart a dash of sheer brilliance produced by Colombiana at the death.

The stalwarts in the race were humbled without exception, but none fell from grace. Solomon led them early with Adam  in second, Your Royal Majesty Dancing Prances, Holy Smoke and Apache were bunched up in the front group, with Strategic Move just behind on the rails. Colombiana was a detached last with 800 to go!

Both Solomon and Adam fell back soon after the turn when Your Royal Majesty and Dancing Prances got past them. Strategic Move was pulled out by jockey David Breux and the Karthik trained gelding responded with an electrifying run. It did need a good blazing run to get past the likes of Dancing Prances and Your Royal Majesty in full flow! Strategic Move shot past them with surprising ease and just when it looked it would wrap it up with ease, Colombiana came flying on the stand side to flash past horse but just failing to nail the winner. There was a roar and a hush from the crowd at the way the finish panned out, befitting a race of this magnitude. Strategic Move won the honours no doubt, but the heart went for Colombiana. The Malesh Narredu ward put in stupendous run in the stretch and came agonizingly close to pulling off a sensational victory.

Cheerleader (Phoenix Tower – Closing Speed, Manjri Stud) pocketed the August Handicap carrying on her Mumbai form scoring a second win in as many starts. It didn’t look all smooth sailing for the CD Katrak trainee as Cheerleader was a tad green in building up for the final run.

Multistar led them into the straight with Ice Angel and Rainbow Dash in tow. Good Thing had made considerable ground and was promising to make a race of it. Cheerleader was fifth behind them and Suraj had to put in efforts to get on even keel. She ran inwards at a crucial juncture, but Suraj was up to the task and deftly got her to get into the acceleration mode. Once she got going, Cheerleader covered ground briskly to catch up with the front runners and then flashed past them all to win by a healthy margin. Good Thing was overwhelmed but was not down for the count as he fought his way to take the runner up spot ahead of Ice Angel who didn’t do too badly either. Rainbow Dash could have fared better and this run should strip her fitter.

Katrak saddled to other winners in the day picking up the very next race, the Moosa Hoosein Trophy Div I with Pierce Arrow (Rebuttal – Daughter of Light, Vikram Greenlands Stud). Pierce Arrow was always in the hunt staying close behind leader Magical Dancer and grabbed his chance soon on turning for home. Jockey Neeraj Rawal took her confidently to the front early in the straight ann stole a march over the rest including favourite Artificial. By the time Artificial warmed up, Neeraj had drawn away well clear to be in any spot of bother. Pierce Arrow didn’t falter and won handsomely finishing close to four lengths ahead of Artificial. Marcus Aurelius did well to finish in the money.

Katrak’s third winner came with another well-priced horse Pugnacious (Arabian Gulf – Magic Touch, Manjri Stud) who brought home the Novotel Trophy Div I scoring with scorching final dash. House of Commons were involved in a long drawn duel right from the start and it only got hotter at the business end. The pair was going hammer and tongs in the straight as Pugnacious began to close in, covering a deficit of almost three lengths approaching the final furlong. Even as it looked they were heading for a three-way finish, Pugnacious produced a devastating run in the final 100 to simply race past the pair with complete authority. He won by nearly two-lengths and his finish had a lot of spark indeed.

Minstrel Heights wore down House of Commons to clinch the second slot by half a length. House of Commons looks a good type and needs to be given time.

While House of Commons may had dampened the spirits of the Shirke camp, the sporting owners had had picked up two races in the day. Their five year old mare Magnolia (Teofilo – Lady Adnil, nanoli Stud) made ample amends for her last start loss by whipping up good speed in the straight to win the Storm Tracker plate.

Starry Brooke set the tone leading with a clear margin with Magnolia following her all the way into the straight. Jazzmyn started off poorly losing a distance at the start and could never recover from that folly.

Starry Brooke was under pressure turning for home and the smooth-sailing Magnolia, from the constantly improving trainer Vishal Gaikwad, had little difficulty in getting past Starry Brooke. Once in the lead, Magnolia looked the winner as he stretch out majestically to score a win easing up. Starry Brooke remained in second with the rest of the field making no impact whatsoever.

Franz Ferdinand (Soviet Star – Duchess Ravel, Nanoli Stud) was the other one to bring the Shirke colours home in the concluding race of the day. The first timer on the Pune track was up with leaders Indus Prince and Elsa as they turned for home.

Indus Prince fought on just as he had done in his previous start and Franz Ferdinand had to make the effort to get past him. Once in the lead, Franz Ferdinand looked in command and went to score a facile win. Mr Ford ran wide initially and made it to the business end efficiently to peg back Indus Prince for the runner-up slot. He is the one to watch out for next time out.

Traherne (Phoenix Tower – Caborig, Manjri Stud) rediscovered his winning touch after reaping no success at Mumbai and his third win on the Pune soil the previous two coming in the last season here. San Martino bore the brunt but he has himself to blame having squandered a good start.

San Martino led them into the straight but then failed to build on it. Phoenix Fire was adding to the pressure but it was Celtic Prince who first got past the duo and Traherne joining Celtic Prince in the next moment. Celtic Prince put up a fight but Traherne always looked superior. Traherne eventually pulled it off with Celtic Prince ending a good second. The rest were far away.

The first race of the day was believed to be a two-horse race, but Jigsaw, with a zestful start to finish essay reduced it to a one horse race. Jockey Yash Narredu darted into the lead with Jigsaw (Archepenko – Silk Runner, Lumbini Stud) and never looked back. The Malesh Narredu trained Jigsaw galloped merrily in front and amassed a huge lead coming into the straight. He was in cruise mode and Shadowfax the main rival and the tote favourite never looked in the hunt. Jigsaw won with authority and without encountering any resistance.

Kodiac Queen (Kodiac Kowboy Turk’s Friend, Jai Govind Stud) fructified subtle gamble as she was never out of the reckoning in the betting ring. Fury was the raging favourite so when these two entered the straight and got past early leader King of Killen, there was bound to be a fierce fight. Kodiac Queen skipped ahead with Fury on her tail and these two pulled away from the rest. Yash fought hard to challenge the leader but Dashrath Singh was resolute in his defense and stayed ahead by a narrow margin to provide Kodiac Queen a fine well-fought victory on debut. Fury will live to fight another day and was certainly not knocked out. Nutcracker ran a tame race while King of Killen did well to save place money.

For the professionals, trainer CD Katrk saddled a treble, while jockey Yash Narredu scored a double.