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By Mahendra Mallya | 08 Oct 2017 | PUNE

Trainer Arjun Mangalorkar leading Aster Rose (Suraj Narredu Up), winner of The Threptin Fillies and Mares Stakes (Gr.3)

good on Sunday with most of the firm favourites emerging victorious although a couple of them were at very miserly odds, particularly Ruffina who was offered a little more than money-back.

Aster Rose (Multidimensional – Lei, Usha Stud) claimed the days feature, the Grade III Threptin Fillies’ & Mares’ Stakes without causing much anxiety to her supporters.

Michaela led a closely bunched field with Escala and Silver Beauty racing together, Unforgettable You travelling slightly wider with Aster Rose a close last all the way until the turn.

Escala surged into the lead quickly into the straight to assume command easily getting past Michaela and Silver Beauty. Unforgettable You was not making much progress when Aster Rose burst through between horses to pounce on Escala. Once Aster Rose got into top gear, she covered ground at a brisk rate and zipped past Escala in split-seconds.  Aster Rose put in a clinical performance displaying depth and class in her ability and doing so on a new turf for her makes it even more commendable. Trainer Arjun Mangalorkar would have been most delighted with this victory as were the large number of her supporters. Escala was a worthy second and is knocking on the doors for victory. Unforgettable You disappointed.

Ruffina (Excellent Art – Lady Danehill, Villoo’s Greenfield Farm) did not need to open full throttle and although she didn’t exactly blaze away, she won without coming under any pressure. The Dallas Todywalla trained filly was back on the race track after a layoff and a setback. Jockey Suraj Narredu nursed the filly aptly to give her the confidence and the classy filly gave what was required for the task at hand.

Settling up in second behind God’s Own, Ruffina brushed aside the leader soon on turning for home and took charge early. Once in the lead, she held her own and and galloped all the way to win easing up. Free Speech did well to beat the rest and finish on the tail of Ruffina.  

Ruffina may not have looked as fluent as she did in Mumbai however, it is understandable as she has had her share of problems. With this run, she is sure to strip fitter and a good few weeks of rest will bring her on for more important assignments in Mumbai, her sights certainly to be battle-ready for the Indian 1000 Guineas.

For trainer Dallas Todywalla Ruffina provided him with a landmark win. Dallas now has saddled 1500 winners and is second in western India the first being Imtiaz Sait who has about a whopping 2000 victories! Dallas was obviously delighted  with this admirable achievement and I asked him his most favoured memories of his career. “Invitation Weekend at Kolkata,” he replied in a flash. “Bergamo won the Sprinters’ Cup in record timing, and the following day he again smashed the course record while winning the Super Mile,” he was a delightful horse and I still relive those magical moments. I also cherish my Indian Derby successes with Starsky and Star Supreme.” Dallas Todywalla has etched a name and reputation for himself in the country and is one among the all-time great trainers in the history of Indian racing.   

Shiraz Sunderji ward Beshiktash (Phoenix Tower – Badait Azlaman, Manjri Stud), had run a good second to Ruffina on his debut in Mumbai after which he faltered in his subsequent outing. Nevertheless, he bounced back nicely to score an emphatic victory and looked good for more.

He was out of the gates quickly and was also a bit wayward until he settled down, but by then Lilibeth slipped past along the inside to lead the field well into the straight. Beshiktash drew level with Lilibeth in the homestretch and worked up a fiery pace to leave his rivals behind. He was way too far ahead in the final furlong and clinched the October Handicap with a lot to spare. Pokerface ran on to take the second spot, while Saffron Flower improved positions to end third.

Malesh Narredu trained Domination (Varenar – Gruezi, Equus Stud) saw jockey Yash Narredu ride persistently to egg the grey gelding on and carve out a well-fought victory with a bunch of horses snapping at them. Slam Dunk had a useful lead in the homestretch and Domination first had to wear him down. Domination labored his way alongside the leader and was also under pressure from the fast finishing duo of Vision of Romance and Sparkling Eyes. Domination put in a last-ditch effort to stay ahead stubbornly and clinch the Kejriwal Trophy – a just reward for putting up a brave show. Slam Dunk yet again found one better. Vision of Romance showed good improvement over his last few efforts and did well to snatch the place money, just managing to pip Sparkling Eyes.

Rishab’s Pet (Rebuttal – Celtic Memories, Hazara Stud) was another well-backed favourite to oblige on the day. The Faisal Abbas trained filly was confidently waged upon at evens. She was off smartly from the gates and settled in second behind Malavika. This pair easily outpaced the rest and in the straight had gone far ahead of the others. Malavika along the rails was fighting hard to stick the lead even as Rishab’s Pet drew level approaching the distance post. Jockey CS Jodha astride Rishab’s Pet didn’t take too long to get the measure of Malavika and guided Rishab’s Pet forward in the final furlong to win drawing away in the last couple of strides. Malavika was a gallant second only for her determined fighting effort and should improve for the run. Stunner ran a tame third.

Powerhaus (Diffident – Leonora, Yerevada Stud) galloped to another start to finish victory, his second this season. He exploited his early advantage to the hilt by galloping relentlessly all through which is perhaps what won him the race. He looked comfortable even inside the final furlong and he duly stayed ahead to win. However, it was Timeless Deeds who was seen finishing the fastest of them all, literally rising from the rear to finish with a scorching gallop covering considerable ground and showing enough momentum for one to believe that she would have toppled Powerhaus if she had another 10 meters or so. Timeless Deeds was languishing at the wrong end of the field until after they turned for home and then had to take the turn widest of all. Considering this, saying she caught the eye would be an understatement!

Smart Choice (Intense Focus – Cashel Queen, Exhilaration Stud) was friendless after a poor show in his last run, but shocked the field with a neat start to finish gallop to score a convincing win. Partnered by TS Jodha, Smart Choice hit the front with Rich N Rare Shahtoosh and Man of Word alongside and Godsent and Gregorian Chants just behind.

On turning for home, Smart Choice gave it her all while warding off her rivals. Godsent arrived with a game challenge but failed to sustain. Man of Word too was all out but could not quicken. Smart Choice kicked on stubbornly and notched up a confidence-boosting win.  

Pretty Angel (Hold Me Back – Love Play, Hazara Stud) unleashed a powerful finish to collar all and sundry, emerging from way behind to stun the front running bunch. Sail Past, Jeena and company had a dead start over Pretty Angel in the straight. Sail Past even was being hailed the winner, when Pretty Angel arrived with a power-packed gallop. She just sailed past them all and spoilt Sail Past’s party getting him a stride or two from the winning post.

For the professionals, jockeys Suraj Narredu and CS Jodha scored a double each.