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By Mahendra Mallya | 14 Aug 2016 | PUNE

The large holiday crowd enjoying the Independence weekend were treated to an exciting mix of some thrilling races and high-end entertainment at the Pune racecourse. With the new entrants Blue Frog throwing in fine music to with super smooth cocktails and an exotic spread, the Army band playing traditional tunes, the Sunday outing proved to be thoroughly enjoyable an there is more to come on Independence day as well.

The shocker of the day however, was Myrtlewood faltering at the gates from which the class filly could never recover. She just didn’t take a level jump! One is bound to feel that perhaps that is the only way she could have lost. However, one has to hand it to The Unicorn for his consistency and the smooth manner in which he sailed into the lead early on and then finished with a strong gallop to put it beyond even Myrtlewood as early as he did in the homestretch. The Unicorn (Verglas – Fourpenny Lane, Sohna Stud) always led by a healthy margin right through and on turning for home sped further away leaving the rest far behind. Myrtlewood’s loss in no way spells doom for the filly as she is bound to bounce back soon. This was yet another glaring example of the uncertainties of the sport of racing!    

Brynhill (Noverre – Chain Reaction, Sohna Stud) gave a sound thumping to his younger rivals with surprising ease. While Ageless and Zander garnered most of the betting, the 10 to 1 shot Brynhill from the stables of Ms Nazak Chenoy shot ahead in the straight. There was a bit of jostling at the turn and it is to the credit of apprentice G Santosh that he stood up to the rough ride homewards. The lad didn’t panic as Deep Diver and Brynhill were involved in a skirmish coming into the straight. Zander bore the brunt of it and received a check, but he had a free run and the duo had covered ground to get past him.

Brynhill unleashed a good burst of speed and bounded away to pile up a huge lead in quick time. Deep Diver stayed on to finish second. Ageless was never in the hunt and ended a tame third.

Trainer Vishal Gaikwad is reaping the benefits of hard and sincere work and his two of his runners justified the cramped odds offered and obliged a large number of supporters. Germanicus (Whatsthescript – Phenomenale, Nanoli Stud) returned unscathed after quelling the challenge posed by Merabella in the final furlong.

June had made all the early running before retiring at the mouth of the homestretch. Glorious Eyes attempted to go for the lead, but her bid was nipped at the bud when Germanicus arrived with a game gallop to take charge. It was not all smooth sailing for the Vishal Gaikwad trainee as Merabella started to inch closer with a furlong to go. Merabella’s challenge was a lively won but with Sandesh in the saddle atop Germanicus, the favourite was never going to cave in easily. Sandesh rode her out and thwarted the spirited bid and in the final moments, stretched away to win by a length.

Vishal Gaikwad then brought in Kings Canyon (Jeremy – Radhwa, Nanoli Stud) this one at even lower odds, best at half money at race time. This was also Trevor’s come-back ride after being forced off the saddle following a fall in Bangalore. The crowd gave Trevor a rousing reception as he walked out of the paddock on his first appearance this season. Even though most had stayed away from betting at such cramped odds on Kings Canyon, Trevor was given a hero’s welcome when they walked the aisle back to the winners’ enclosure.

Kings Canyon darted out of the gates and led right from the start going at a good clip. Firebolt settled in second with Abu Al Bukhoosh a close third and this trio stayed ahead of the rest.

On turning for home, Kings Canyon strode out majestically and drew away from Firebolt. He looked the winner long way from home and Trevor duly eased up Kings Canyon in the last few strides as he sensed no danger. Abu Al Bukhoosh got the better of Firebolt to take away the runner-up slot.

Trevor then partnered Pesi Shroff trained Courtship (Mull of Kintyre – My Pension, Sohna Stud) but here Trevor had to manoeuvre his way from the mid-bunch, also forced to take the turn wider than he would have liked. Arak, the other top fancy received a bad check at a crucial juncture in the crowded field and lost his chances just as they were turning for home.

Mizilla Gold put in a good gallop to get past leader Imperial Princess soon in the straight, but Courtship arrived with a booming gallop to take charge and sailed into the lead. Night of Stars tried to offer a challenge as she closed in on Courtship, but Trevor got his filly going all the way o score a comfortable win. Night of Stars ran a good second ending well ahead of Mizilla Gold.

Owner Mohan Thakur took home a trophy double winning both the divisions of the Blue Frog Salver. The first division saw his filly Flying Show (Varenar – Queen Victoria, Equus Stud) pulling off an upset, beating a more fancied lot with ease with five-kilo claiming rookie K Nazil notching up his first win.

Nazil had the Hosidar Daji- trained Flying Show up in front alongside Dragon of War and Victorio. Kingston Heath came next and Star One, the other fancied runner further behind. As they entered the homestretch, Flying Show started to accelerate well and soon built a handy lead. Neither Dragon of War nor Victorio could match up and they were struggling to keep their places. Star One finished on well but by the time jockey Sandesh could mount his challenge, Flying Show had drawn clear to win it with a handsome margin, leaving Star One to take the next best spot.

Earlier, Mohan Thakur’s Almost Magical (Noverre – Ordoneyah, Sohna Stud) had won the Div II of the Blue Frog Salver with equal ease. This one was trained by Faisal Abbas and ably ridden by jockey CS Jodha.

Almost Magical shot into the lead going at a crisp pace with Logano tagging along. Mr Morrison, who had his share of supporters this time and Abe were close behind with Rich N Rare between them.

Almost Magical zipped ahead soon on turning for home and accelerated further ahead eating up ground briskly. Logano fell back and none could match the winner’s scorching gallop. Abe improved positions to finish a faraway second, shoving Logano to the third spot.

Dubrovnik had raised a lot of hope and showed promise on his debut run when he went own fighting. However, he was a pale shadow of his last run and went down tamely without as much as raising any hope. Debutant Poets Song led them into the straight but soon had Rock In Rio (Chevalier – Marguerite, Ruia Stud) coming at her with giant strides. Soon the Narendra Lagad’s ward loomed large and jockey Dashrath Singh encountered no resistance as he surged forward and sealed the issue in quick time. Poets Song had a good educative feel of the turf and should come into her own soon. Dubrovnik disappointed a large following and just could not match the speed. He may need more galloping ground but certainly didn’t look the part for a scurry.

Zadmal Singh trained Aspen (Royal Gladiator – Quiet Fancy, Pratap Stud) put up strong finish to down leader Imitation Game in the closing stages of the race.   

Secret Flame tried to pull away from the front bunch as she improved positions from fourth to take the lead past the 600. She came into the straight leading my more than three lengths but simply could not sustain. Soon Imitation Game caught up with her and strode ahead, shaping up well to last out the final furlong. However, Aspen warmed up nicely to gain momentum in the final furlong and jockey Bhawani Singh had her going at a good rate. Aspen just managed to peg back Imitation Game a couple of strides from the wire to log a rewarding victory for a good effort. Imitation Game went down fighting till the last and could be luckier next time out.

For the professionals, trainers Pesi Shroff and Vishal Gaikwad saddled a double each. Jockey P Trevor picked up from her had left off and was in the limelight scoring a popular double.