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By Mahendra Mallya | 09 Sep 2017 | PUNE

Trainer Nosher Cama leading Gazino (PS Chouhan Up), winner of The Sixth Element Salver

If Gazino (Surfrider – La Joconde, Ruia Stud) had been impressive in his last start win, he was even better and more bullish this time. Once he began to surface from behind the front runners, he showed tearaway speed and outpaced and outclassed his rivals to score a booming victory.

Oracle and Flag Flying were up in front with Gazino, the even-money favourite settled nicely along the rails just behind them. No sooner they entered the homestretch, jockey PS Chouhan got the Nosher Cama ward past Flag Flying and alongside the second-in-demand Oracle. Gazino quickened in a trice thereafter and sped off from Oracle showing mind-boggling acceleration. In split-seconds he had left his rivals far away and got across the wire several lengths ahead while easing up in the last part. With this impressive performance, Gazino is to be taken seriously as a top-notch sprinter.

Sparkling Eyes warmed up far too late, but quick enough to finish on second beating Flag Flying and Oracle narrowly.

Lucas (Phoenix Tower – Trinity Joy, Manjri Stud) returned to the race track after his last win in February this year with another smashing win. The betting trends swung around Lucas and Exodus with both horses being backed well at around 9/4 or just beyond.

Ship Rock led the field with Congressional and Exodus close behind. Lucas was not the quickest out of the gates but was quick to brush up and settle in fifth, but not too far away from those in front.

Ship Rock kicked on after turning for home with Exodus giving it his all when Lucas started to cover ground briskly. Lucas looked the winner even as they were still approaching the distance post. The Nazak Chinoy ward gathered speed and cruised past Ship Rock and Exodus and dominated the final furlong to win handsomely and pocket the Iran Cup in style. Exodus just about managed to pip Ship Rock for the runner up berth.   

The first race of the day was expected to be exclusively contested between Bold March and Star of Harmony and the bookie ring also resonated the same chain of thought as these two were exclusively wagered upon. Star of Harmony (Multidimensional – Veens’s Pet, Usha Stud) jumped out smartly and led the small field of four runners with Bold March settling in second. Square Moon and Al Shamsheer were in tow and finished in that order without ever looking in contention.

As the small field went round the first corner, Star of Harmony veered out alarmingly going almost on the outer railing. Full credit must be given to P.S.Chouhan for not losing either his composure or position, as he gradually brought the filly back to the inner railing without breaking her momentum. As they turned for home there was a brief tussle as Bold March challenged, but Star of Harmony kicked on resolutely to snuff out the only challenger. The Malesh Narredu trainee seems a very genuine handicapper and we could see a whole lot more of her in the winners’ circle if placed strategically.

Loire (Surfrider – Leit Motif, Ruia Stud) won the second race of the card as she pleased. She settled well in the front bunch and was sighted a winner a long way from home. True Grit led from the word ‘go’ in this five-furlong sprint and guided them into the straight. Loire was only biding her time until she was asked for an effort. Once the button was pressed, the response was immediate and clinical and the issue thereafter was sealed beyond any doubt. She won in the proverbial 'common canter' and apprentice jockey Raghuveer Singh must be hoping for more armchair rides such as this one. Saffron Flower ran-on late to finish an eye catching second and may not have to wait too long to earn her winning bracket.

There was a fair amount of pre-race hype surrounding In It To Win It in this maiden mile. He was supposed to have improved dramatically after his last start where he trailed the field and thundered in to finish an eye catching 4th. Ice Dancer had all the form pointing towards a win, and the public wagering was more or less restricted to this pair. The rest of the runners could be backed at double digits.

Auburn (Champs Elysees – Atwirl, Nanoli Stud), another unexposed filly from Vishal Gaikwad's yard, went to the front with the ‘jodi’ (pair) in close attendance. There was slight jostling between the three horses at the bend, but once they straightened up Auburn with jockey NS Parmar in the saddle, showed a clean pair of heels and won by a whopping five lengths easing up. Ice Dancer finished second and In It To Win It ended up a rather tame third almost a distance behind the winner. Auburn is likely to repeat and it may to follow her again.

Bunting (Intense Focus – Misteireach, Nanoli Stud) scored in a nail-biting finish displaying immense fighting qualities when under pressure. She strode out freely in front soon on settling down and had Arsenal for company. Knight’s Quest was constantly breathing down her neck while Kodiac Queen raced along the rails until the turn along with Regal Shot.

Bunting shook off Knight’s Quest as she stepped up pace going for the final finish. Kodiac Queen improved positions and came at Bunting with a strong challenge. They battle out the final furlong going stride for stride, Kodiac Queen even putting her nose in front at a point. However, jockey NS Parmar put in a never-say-die effort on the MK Jadhav schooled Bunting and managed to snatch victory on the wire and take home the Pune Cantonment Board Trophy Div I.

The lower division of the race saw rank outsider Golden Weaver (Tariq – Venus Arising, Nanoli Stud) create a flutter. The Hosidar Daji schooled three year old filly was not the best looking one in the paddock and sure enough was completely neglected in the betting. However, she floored the punters with a good turn of foot and won with surprising ease.

Golden Weaver was right up in front alongside Way Ahead and Anniversary Girl and she surged ahead soon on turning for home. Once in the straight, jockey J Pradeep got her going with a crack or two and Golden Weaver galloped away leaving no chance for the rest. Way Ahead finished on second ahead of Anniversary Girl.

Hormuz Antia trained Vitesse (Varenar – Elite Society, Equus Stud) went one better on her last effort and pulled off a majestic start to finish win in the hands of apprentice N Nadeem. Once into the straight, Vitesse accelerated further and kept her rivals at a safe distance. Forever Free who was always in second, ended chasing the winner. The Other Song came from behind to snatch the place money from Happy Birthday.

Rain Dance (Arabian Gulf – Radiating, Manjri Stud) was ably ridden by apprentice jockey SA Amit. It was a rough ride alright as the lad had to grapple between horses to break free while looking for clear passage.

Sail Past led them into the straight, but ran out of gas at the business end. Time of My Life entered the straight on a tight leash but when asked for an effort, she didn’t forge ahead as expected. Rain Dance arrived with a big run to collar Time of My Life and strode ahead in the final 50 to win by a narrow margin. Sail Past saved the place money.

For the professionals, jockeys PS Chouhan and NS Parmar scored a double each.