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By Mahendra Mallya | 27 Jul 2017 | PUNE

Mr Sarosh Mody & trainer S K Sunderji leading Traherne (Neeraj Rawal Up), winner of The Fair Haven Trophy

Pune Season 2017 began on expected lines with the lush green turf soaking in a steady drizzle pouring now and then during the races. He monsoon track however, played true and the timings for the races showed that the officials in charge, M/s Suhail Mohammed and Jehangir Sayeed had done a good job with the racing track.

Action began on a thrilling note as Comic Timing (Dancing Forever – Tamoshanta, Hazara Sud) edged out Auroden in a close finish in the season’s opener. The dozen horses jumped off to a lovely even start with Art of War darting in to the lead and Auroden setting out in chase. Samurai, Mocassin, Timeless Deeds and Comic Timing were close behind with the res not too far away.

Art of War petered out after guiding them homeward and soon Auroden go into the lead. Samurai built up a good challenge while Comic Timing made steady progress from the outside. Timeless Deeds got into traffic problems and by the time he broke free it was too late. Comic Timing piloted by in-form jockey Neeraj Rawal, advanced smoothly to get past Auroden and although the latter fought on gamely until the end, Comic Timing donning the Shiven Surendranath silks always looked good to win despite the short-head verdict. Samurai picked up place money while Timeless Deeds ended a promising fourth.

The next race was even more exciting with Narendra Lagad’s Juggernaut (Diffident – Cincinnati, Yerevada Stud) having to dig deep to thwart the small-made Elysee’s big challenge. Juggernaut rolled on into the lead soon on start and held an edge over the rest entering the straight.

Jockey Dashrath Singh rode with aplomb to keep Juggernaut going even as Elysee started to draw abreast with still some distance to go. Juggernaut stood up to the challenge and galloped on relentlessly even as Elysee was closing in t a fast clip. The duo battled fiercely through the final furlong with Juggernaut holding his ground right through and scraping home with the flare of the nostril seeing the Vijay Shah colours through!

The same camp picked up another sprint race with God’s Own (Diffident – Winged Light, Yerevada Stud). Only this time their ward won by the longest margin in the day. Jockey Dashrath Singh did well to speed off into the lead, coming off an outside draw (14) to get past horses and take the lead. Yellow Diamond and Princess P were just behind the leader with the rest in a cluster.

God’s Own dished out a fluent gallop and it was game over for her rivals as early as on entering the homestretch. God’s Own pulled away from them all and Princess P chased in vain. God’s Own was simply too good for the rest and won easing up. Princess P will live to fight another day and could use this run as a lung-opener. Crystal Ball finished on well to pip Yellow Diamond for the place money.

SK Sunderji trained Traherne (Phoenix Tower – Carborig, Manjri Stud) picked up the season’s first trophy claiming the Fair Haven Trophy for Class I horses in style. Top weighted Holy Smoke led the all the way into the straight but the heavy impost told on him the moment they turned for home. Traherne, who was in pursuit of the leader was quick to move up and surge into the lead. Germanicus improved positions to throw in his challenge with jockey Sandesh getting him going all out. Tote favourite London simply couldn’t find his feet and made little impact on the race. Traherne, with Neeraj Rawal in the saddle, showed good paces to finish off well and pulled it off keeping Germanicus at Bay. Palatial improved considerably to take the third spot away from Holy Smoke. While Traherne won well, Germanicus may have found the distance sharp, as he was moving well towards the end.

Nirad Karanjawalla trained Furious N’ Fast (Top Class – Hava Nagila, Mukeshwar Stud) finally got rewarded for his consistency, scoring a fighting win with jockey A Imran Khan in the saddle.  Imran settled his mount well coming out from the widest draw (13) and held the filly in check in the sixth position until the turn. Meanwhile, Judicious took command and looked fairly good until well into the straight. Dark Gold moved up from the rails and got a clear run but he squandered a good chance away. Imran pushed and prodded Furious N’ Fast and once the filly responded, they were away past Judicious and Dark Gold. Domination picked up momentum in the final furlong and came really fast at the Nirad Karanjawalla filly, but fell short narrowly. Judicious held on to place money.

Vishal Gaikwad’s charge Shamwari (Excellent Art – Rosalind, Poonawalla Astonish Stud)  came into her own after a couple of ‘place’ efforts to notch him her maiden win in her third career start. Settling close behind leader Ascension the tote favourite, Shamwari, the second in demand at the ring, cruised past the leader soon on turning for home. She looked in fine fettle as she galloped away in the straight leaving no chance for her rivals to even get close to her. Tower Bridge made a good attempt, but he had far too much ground to cover. Shamwari won well, clocking the quickest time for the day – a fraction over 58 secs for the scurry. An encore looks quite possible.

Trainer Adhirajsingh Jodha struck again with Makino (Sedgefield – Blitz Kiss, Jai Govind Stud) picking up the P Hadow Trophy beating a tough set of opponents. Makino worked his way from the mid bunch to be prominently poised for his final assault once they turned for home. Flamboyant Flame worked up good pace to get past Double Nine in the straight with a nice aggressive run. Makino inched closer past the distance post and rallied well to zip past Flamboyant Flame timing his finish to perfection wearing down Flamboyant Flame in yet another close finish. Free Speech looked good to earn the place money, however a good burst from Maduro saw the latter pip Free Speech for the third place. This run world do a world of good for Maduro and he could churn out a better performance next time out.

Young but experienced apprentice DS Daman showed good skills in getting Adams Beginning (Sedgefield – Adams Law, Jai Govind Stud) score her maiden victory in her eighth start. Daman got Adams Beginning to settle close behind leaders Prominence and Arc of Passion keeping alongside Synchronicity until the final turn. He then smoothly guided the Magansingh Jodha filly to the front past Arc of Passion and once in the lead, Adams Beginning got stronger  and strode away to bring up her maiden win in style. Bay of Love arrived late to pick up the runner-up slot. Arc of Passion stayed on to claim the place stakes.

For the professionals, trainers Narendra Lagad and Abhirajsingh Jodha saddled a double each, while jockey Neeraj Rawal pulled off a fine treble and jockey Dashrath Singh a double.