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By Mahendra Mallya | 25 Dec 2016 | MUMBAI


Malesh Narredu trained Colombiana (Noverre – Wonder Smile, Sohna Stud) has pulled off some sensational wins in his career, however, this one beating Alaindair on the last stride to win the prestigious Maharaja Sir Harisinghji Trophy presented by Maharaj Kumar Ajathshatru Singh, was perhaps the most dramatic of them all. Colombiana first of all had to contend with top-line contenders like Alaindair and Myrtlewood both of whom had beaten him in their last encounters. Then he had to overcome a tardy start when he jumped out late and lost about five lengths at the gates. It took an all-out effort from ace jockey A Sandesh to ride out vigorously in the final stages of the race and Colombiana produced a terrific burst of speed to time his run to perfection and win the race by a short head, literally on the last stride.

Apache led them into the straight and Myrtlewood was right behind ready to sail ahead soon on turning for home. Alaindair weaved his way up the order and got the measure of Myrtlewood with ease, approaching the distance post and looked to be heading for a certain victory. Colombiana arrived with a swift gallop but still had to cover some ground and with Alaindair powering his way to the finish, it looked a tough ask. Colombiana however, put in a scorching finish to pip Alaindair on the post and snatch a dramatic win to shock the favourite on the wire.

“This was one of his best performances and all credit to Sandesh for riding a perfect race,” said Malesh Narredu. “After getting off to a late start, Sandesh eased him to join the bunch and nursed him to get into a fine rhythm. Once in the straight, Sandesh got him going and the late charge was superbly done and Sandesh rode his heart out to carve out this narrow win.  Beating quality horses like Alaindair and Myrtlewood is an achievement and I am proud of Colombiana’s fighting qualities. He is a brave horse and has had his share of off-track troubles. The poor horse had been through a traumatic time last year when the float he was travelling in turned turtle on his way back from Hyderabad. He had to wait in an inconvenient position for hours before he was rescued from a mangled float. He had several stitches on him yet he bounced back admirably to win his very next outing within two months. That speaks a lot of his guts and resolve. I am thrilled by his performance and I mark this victory as one of his best triumphs,” said Malesh.

Charging Tigress (Sedgefield – Great Colors, Jai Govind Stud) spoiled the party for favourite Star Councillor who had led until he was beaten. Setting off at a good clip, Star Councillor galloped gamely right through and surged ahead to build a handy lead inside the homestretch. With close rival Khayyam showing no sign of quickening, Star Councillor was being hailed the winner when Charging Tigress started to gather brisk momentum in the last furlong. Star Councillor looked in danger only the last fifty when it was clear that the Magan Singh Jodha ward was eating up ground and gaining on the leader. Sure enough, Charging Tigress, ridden by apprentice SA Amit, finished on with a roaring gallop to peg back Star Councillor to win the race in style. Celtic Prince ended a good third, while Traherne improved towards the end to hit the board.

Trainer Pesi Shroff saddled a back to back double with two of his runners obliging a good number of supporters. Nifty (Multidimensional – Artwork, Usha Stud) had been well-rested after her campaign last Mumbai season having given Pune a miss. That layoff ensured that Nifty ran at nourishing odds as Glorious Eyes was installed the favourite after the latter’s good second in the last outing.  However, on the track, Nifty showed fresh energy bouncing back to her winning form (she had won her first two races, one each on her Pune and Mumbai debut last year.

Nifty proved too good to her rivals as she settled right up in front behind leader Jazzmyn and favourite Glorious Eyes until they turned for home.  Nifty didn’t take too long to shake off Glorious Eyes and she surged into the lead passing Jazzmyn by comfortably. Joss tried to make a late challenge as did Essence of Love, but neither could measure up to Nifty’s strong gallop to the winning post. Nifty won well and can repeat. Joss may have found the mile too short and ought to be taken seriously over the longer trips.

Normandy (Footstepinthesand – Thiella-Golden Bright, Nanoli Stud) dished out a neat start to finish victory allowing none from the field even a semblance of victory. She settled early and dictated the pace all through. Normandy entered the straight with Angel Girl close behind, with the others not too far either. However, Normandy sped away soon to build herself a cozy lead and looked the winner midway in the straight. Sabiq tried to make a race of it and drew a bit closer, but that’s all he could do. Normandy kicked on to win by over a length to spare with Sabiq ending a decent second. Sovereignsky improved a lot of places ending a decent third, indicating that she might prefer the longer distances.

Debutante Zanara paid a heavy price for goofing in the early stages and even a good, strong finishing effort failed to see her achieve a debut win. Timeless Deeds (Varenar – Elegante, Equus Stud) thrived on her first run and ran a mature race in picking her first win. Racing in second behind Macgyver until the turn, Timeless Deeds surged into the lead soon on turning for home. Zanara was still too far back and started improving past the 300. There was way too much gap to cover for the favourite and with Timeless Deeds marching away at a good clip, it was always going to be difficult to catch up in time. Zanara did blaze in at the finish, but had too much to do in the final furlong. Timeless Deeds, trained by Narendra Lagad, scrapped through to win by a neck with Zanara steaming in too late. Gold Bond ended a good third and will also, like Zanara have his day in the sun.

The day started with a thriller involving Royal Passion the bottom weight and top weighted Alfredo fighting stride for stride in the final furlong to hit the wire together, the former pegging back Alfredo by a head. Alfredo was in the lead coming into the straight and  had Zabisco and Ancient Treasure close behind, but neither looked a threat. Royal Passion soon started to inch closer with Tinogona and Ventura also looking game for a fight. Royal Passion (Stardan – Black Sapphire, Rolli Stud) trained by Narendra Lagad, got going in the hands of Bhawani Singh and stretched out well in the last couple of strides to get it right on the wire.

Abbey (Phoenix Tower – Attune, Manjri Stud) has been consistent over her last few runs and finally came good to score a long pending win. She set off to a good start and led all the way into the straight. She quickened nicely thereafter to steer clear of the rest. Double Nine came up with a challenge in the final stages, but Abbey had enough legs to ward off Double Nine and carve out a narrow win. Lady Danehill snatched the third spot from Maduro.

For the professionals, trainers Pesi Shroff and Narendra Lagad logged a double each.