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By Mahendra Mallya | 10 Sep 2017 | PUNE

Harvey (A Imran Khan Up), winner of The Gamble For Love Trophy

That the Pune track is a touch too fast was evident with the track record for 1000m scurry broken twice in a short span of three weeks. Wild Fire had lit up the track and set the fastest timing for the scurry at 57:59 on the Independence day, only to be bettered by Harvey (Arazan – Only for Gold, Villoo’s Greenfield Farm) clocked the fastest ever at 56:77 which is mind-boggling. Harvey didn’t exactly tear away from the gates, as he settled a close last in the field of four.

Deep Diver and Brynhill were up in front with Abbey on the outside and Harvey a close last. Harvey made his way to the front soon on turning for home and then set off at a nippy pace to stretch away from the trio. He looked good galloping away at a good clip and encountered no challenge at any stage to romp home with a fair degree of comfort. Abbey ambled on to chase the winner to the wire with Brynhill and Deep Diver finishing on. Trainer Shiraz Sunderji had obviously tuned Harvey to optimum fitness and this I reckon will be the best run of Harvey.  

Kramer (Phoenix Tower – Meydana, Manjri Stud) galloped to a fluent start to finish victory without encountering any challenge. Rotterdam, the one expected to trouble Kramer was a tad rusty after the layoff. Kramer dictated the terms right from start and went at a good clip and on entering the straight, simply galloped away from his rivals. Kramer dominated over his opponents and won on his own terms by a healthy margin. Rotterdam just about managed to stave off Adonijah by a nose to finish second.  

Touch Me Not (Tariq – Touch A Star, Equus Stud), ridden by Dashrath Singh, was another fluent winner who won untroubled from start to end. He assumed charge at the jump and was stalked by Arc Shine, Minding and La Motte. Once they turned for home, Touch Me Not kicked on resolutely to steer clear of the rest, not even giving them a whiff of a chance. The Narendra Lagad trained filly achieved her maiden success effortlessly and may strike again. Arc Shine looked on her way up and this run should do her a world og good. La Motte had a good educative outing and did well to end in the money first time out.

Sanjay Kolse ward Big Sur (Win Legend – Validate, Deshmesh Stud) had to dig deep to thrive in a fighting finish. Nelsons Blood seemed to have it under control for most part of the mile race and even on entering the straight he kicked on gamely for a good part into the homestretch. The others were crowding behind him with Forest Fairy building up her challenge. Domination and Big Sur also looked capable of coming good and this quartet were clustered with a furlong to go. Big Sur, with Dashrath Singh in the saddle, eventually put in that big leap to get his nose to the wire to pip Domination and Forest Fairy and etch out a thrilling victory.

Carbonara (China Visit – Al Dente, Usha Stud) defied the penalty and scored his second win this season with jockey Imran Khan coming into his elements to get the Imtiaz Sait trainee to pick up speed at the right time and arrive with a forceful finishing effort.

Charging Tigress and Stand And Dance were going at one another in the straight when Carbonara started to close in on the pair. Carbonaro was easily travelling the best of the lot and easily overhauled the pair in front to stretch away in the final 100m and win comfortably. Charging Tigress held on to nose out Stand And Dance for the runner up berth. Pugnacious ended a tame fourth.

The opener of the day saw public support divided between Lord Grantham and Sweet Music. Lord Grantham had finished second to Simon says in his reappearance on the Pune track after almost an entire year! Simon Says had gone on to win again after that victory which boosted the form tremendously. Sweet Music was in a similar situation having nosed out Rochester who had also subsequently gone on to score. The duel seemed interesting.

It was King of Killen who jumped smartly and led till the bend with Lord Grantham (Sakhee’s Secret – Napoleon’s Mistress, Nanoli Stud) beautifully settled in about third on the rails while Sweet Music tracked the front-runners, travelling wide though. Lord Grantham surged ahead as they turned for home and looked in control until We Break The Rules thundered in from the ruck with an emphatic closing burst that looked certain to get the frontrunner. However, jockey PS Chouhan, atop WE Break The Rules, could not get a clear run and was on the verge of crashing into Lord Grantham hence, had to check his mount. That cost him the second place as well, as his momentum was broken. Lord Grantham kicked on gamely to coast on ahead get his maiden victory. Sweet Music ran a disappointing 4th behind King of Killen who rallied on to finish second. 

Ascension and Stunner were the only two horses with any semblance of form, and they fought out the finish over this five-furlong scurry. The race saw the market fancies in Ascension and Stunner fight it out from the jump till the wire, though one must admit that Ascension (Phoenix Tower – Wedded Woman, Manjri Stud) did get stronger at the finish. These two had actually run their last start together where Stunner had beaten the filly. But on the day, Ascension was easily the better horse and gave this mediocre set no chance while scoring her maiden victory. Stunner held on to the second spot while Malavika ended a fighting third. None from the rest of the field seemed in any form and will need to be extremely lucky to shed their maiden ranks during this season.

Crystal Ball (Mull of Kintyre – Crystal, Nanoli Stud) had been knocking on the door awhile and finally got his game right to win the concluding race of the day. Slam Dunk, another consistent runner, had barely taken the lead when Crystal Ball started to warm up and chase down the leader. The pair fought had and they drifted out in the straight. Double Nine was making his run close to the inner rails and was also in contention. However, the weight was too much for Double Nine to sustain. Meanwhile, Crystal Ball wore down Slam Dunk and surged ahead as they got close to the wire. Slam Dunk ran on second while Divine Magic put in a spirited finish to grab the place money.

For the professionals, trainer Shiraz Sunderji saddled a double, while jockeys Imran Khan and Dashrath Singh scored a treble and double respectively.