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By Mahendra Mallya | 11 Sep 2016 | PUNE

Trainer SS Attaollahi leading Azzurro (P Trevor Up), winner of The Idar Gold Trophy (Gr.3)

Dr Vijay Mallya owned Azzurro (Azamour – Miss Highjinks, Kunigal Stud who has maintained a remarkable record of finishing-in-the-frame in all his outings, added another feather in his cap winning the Grade III Idar Gold Trophy. The 13/10 favourite showed no hurry even as last start winner The Unicorn tried the runaway tactics darting into the lead at start and then accelerating to open up a huge lead through the backstretch. The Unicorn led by nearly 15 lengths most of the way, while the seasoned campaigner Azzurro let him do his bit and sat back in the second last position, with only Rodeo behind him.

Jockey Trevor started to close in only past the 800 and once they turned for home, started to work on Azzurro to open up. The Suleiman Attollahi ward put in a fine finishing acceleration and caught up with The Unicorn in the final furlong and then dashed past to win by a length and half, in a clinical fashion. Even though The Unicorn had a sizable lead in the homestretch, Azzurro never looked under any pressure of falling short. He galloped resolutely to collar the leader and clinch the prestigious trophy.

The supporting event sponsored by Sound Factor, had a good line-up of 13 maidens going to the start. Sovereignsky was the prime fancy and Mount Mckinley the next in demand. This pair had finished close together in a mock race with Sovereignsky coming on top by a narrow margin. However, on the race track, Mount Mckinley turned the tables and won the seven-furlong race start to finish.

Capitalizing on a quick start, Mount Mckinley hurried up to grab the lead with Double Nine and Tchibouela close behind, Sovergnsky was way back in the second last position and that hardly helped his cause.

Mount Mckinley drove home the early advantage as he quickened well on turning for home. Double Nine could not find much however Caielin progressed well within himself, although he did not look threatening. Soveirgnsky’f finishing effort was commendable as he improved remarkably and was the fastest in the straight. He had too much to do in the straight but did cover ground at brisk rate to end an eye-catching second. Had he been in striking position at a proper juncture, he certainly would have given Mouth Mckinley a run for his money.

Trainer Malesh Narredu saddled a double and his first winner of the day was Silver Beauty (Aussie Rules – Mharanee, Exhilaration Stud). Favorite Magnolia jumped out smartly but Sumaaq changed her usual off the pace tactics and swung into the lead. Magnolia stalked the leader with Silver Beauty, Charging Tigress, Multi glory and Set To Fly in close attendance.  Sawgrass and Smart N Noble raced in the rear.

Silver Beauty assumed charge soon on turning for home and produced a sustained gallop. She sped ahead with a good burst leaving Magnolia behind. Smart N Noble and Sawgrass made their bid from the outside, with Sawgrass travelling the better of the beaten brigade. Silver Beauty encountered no challenge and kicked away to score an impressive victory. Sawgrass ended a good second, while Magnolia disappointed.

Malesh later struck with favorite Shield of Achilles (Arazan – Saffron Dancer, Poonawalla Astonish Stud) the three-year-old pulling off his third successive victory between Bangalore and Pune.

Jockey Suraj Narredu guided Shield of Achilles smoothly into the lead and went at a crisp pace. Frankest and Eternalinspiration were close behind. The others were not too far away, but for Iridescence who took a fly jump and veered left at the gates and was a bad last.

Shield of Achilles increased the tempo on turning for home and it was so evident that he would oblige his supporters without anxiety. He kicked on gallantly and stayed well ahead all the way to the wire. Eternalinspiration was prominent until the bend, up close with the leader, however, took time to get into the rhythm. He warmed up well but only when it was all over. He charged in to grab the second spot beating Frankest for the runner-up berth.  

Harvey (Arazan – Only For Gold, Villoo’s Greenfield Stud) fought a bitter battle to down a determined effort from Nascar to clinch the issue on the last stride. Nascar got off to a good start and shot into the lead with Niobrara for company until the turn. Shivalik Shine, the favourite, was a touch slow off the gates and over the scurry, it costs dearly.

Nascar surged into the lead in the homestretch and soon Trevor atop Harvey began to chase her down. He got alongside her at the distance post but Nascar was not one to give up easily. Apprentice jockey Raghuveer rode his heart out and countered the challenger bravely. Nascar and Harvey battled it out stride for stride and in the end the experience of Trevor might have helped Harvey’s cause and they managed to ward off Nascar by a head. Vistana galloped on to take the third ahead of Shivalik Shine.

Pugnacious (Arabian Gulf – Magic Touch, Manjri Stud) scored an encore and this victory was as impressive if not better than his previous one. Settling on the wider outside of a closely bunched of front runners, Pugnacious, ridden by Joy Chinoy, took charge soon on turning for home. Once into the lead, he accelerated smoothly and picked up good momentum and started to skip away from the rest. He finished on strongly as well carving out a comfortable victory with a healthy margin. Jolfa ran on to take the second spot, while Godsent improved well to beat favourite Mikayla for the place stakes.

Striking Story (Mr Mellon – Strike it Right, Ruia Stud) converted a good start to a fine victory as he galloped on relentlessly all the way home. He did encounter a semblance of a challenge when his stable mate Sanam the more favored one in the betting, moved in with threatening strides to catch up with Striking Story.However, jockey DS Daman did not let his guard down and put in a determined show to knock Sanam to second. Diablo, who garnered lively support at race time ended a tame third.

The consistency of Marcus Aurelius (Phoenix Tower – Salawati, Manjri Stud) paid off as he put in a strong finish to smother Dragon of War at the business end.

Dragon of War was in command as they entered the straight with Baryshnikov ready to challenge. These two battled in the first half and just when it seemed Dragon of War would shake his challenger off, Marcus Aurelius produced a spirited gallop to surge ahead and away to win by a comfortable margin. Dragon of War ended second ahead of Baryshnikov who fought hard for the place money. Forward Thrust did extremely well to overcome a sluggish start to improve commendably and find a place in the judge’s frame. Flamboyant Flame, the popular choice ran a disappointing race ending two off the frame.

For the professionals, trainer Malesh Narredu saddled a good double, whiel jockeys P Trevor and Suraj Narredu scored a double each.