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By mahendra mallya | 14 Oct 2017 | PUNE

Trainer Imtiaz A Sait leading Raees (C S Jodha Up), winner of The Suresh Mahindra Trophy

It was a tricky card and tote favourites tumbled one after the other as form took a back seat on the pre-Derby day. The Super Jackpot and first jackpot pools remained unsolved and the second jackpot made a sole hunter rich by over Rs 400, 000/- as lesser fancied runners came forth with with dazzling performances. The trends tilted somewhat later in the day with Excellent Gold, Lincoln and Raees ensuring that the followers of favourites could stage a recovery.

Raees (Sedgefield – Lost Perfection, Jai Govind Stud) displayed excellent staying ability by completely outclassing his hapless rivals, inflicting a massive 17 lengths defeat. To add to his glory, Raees smashed the course record on the monsoon track held by Severus by a good three seconds, rewriting his own at 3:30:488.  

Al Samsheer galloped away initially at a steady pace building up  good lead through the backstretch but faded away with a third of the race still to go. Star of Harmony strayed wide coming into the backstretch, however PS Chouhan steadily guided the filly close to the inner railings, also going into the lead while doing so. But the filly once again drifted outward at the turn and that ended her chances, if any. Square Moon tried to pull a surprise just before the turn slipping in through the rails and trying to grab the lead. Raees was simply too good for them though and jockey CS Jodha got the Imtiaz Sait ward going to take charge in the straight. Once in the straight, Raees started striding away strongly to exhibit tremendous ability to carry on and on, literally snuffing out even a semblance of a challenge and stamping his authority with the resounding win.  

Narendra Lagad continued his good run and he is now well ahead to win the Champion trainer title at Pune which he has done for several seasons. The burly, jovial trainer sent out three winners in the day that included both divisions of the FA & KA Irani Tophy.

Excellent Gold (Excellent Art – Only for Gold, Poonawalla Astonish Stud) was coming off a fine victory last time out and showed that he had retained the form with another superlative performance. This time he had to work a lot harder though and he moved up nicely from the mid-ranks to be prominent entering the straight.

Arakawah squandered away a handy lead as he had no answer when Excellent Gold challenged him and he caved in rather meekly. The real challenge came from The Civilian who arrived with a burst of speed. He covered good ground at a fast rate and even headed Excellent Gold for a stride or two. However, Dashrath Singh, not one to give up easily, fought back hard and surged ahead at just the right juncture to carve out a narrow victory from The Civilian. Arakawah finished in the money though and saved the place bets.

IN the lower division, Dashrath yet again showed his riding skills slipping in through the rails and going for the kill at the precise moment. He was sitting a handy third as they turned for home with Miss Moneypenny leading them into the straight. Anniversary Girl, who was in second position, failed to reproduce her last winning gallop and bowed out of contention. Juggernaut picked up momentum midway in the straight and came with a good effort to get past Miss Moneypenny in the final furlong to won stretching away in the end. Jarama improved considerably at the finish and arrived with a fast gallop and just failed to pip Miss Moneypenny for the runner up berth. Safdar, who was right up with the front bunch ended a tame fourth. Franz Ferdinand was withdrawn at the gates.

Naren’s surprise package was Art O War (Excellent Art – Perpetuate, Poonawalla Stud) who fetched him the Animal Welfare Board of Indian Trophy. Hitherto a maiden in ten attempts, Art O War was at longer odds and neglected in the betting in the big 20-horse field. Art O War was quick to take the lead and galloped at a good pace to lead them into the straight.  

Once in the straight, Art O war kept the momentum going. Arc of Passion tried hard to offer a challenge but didn’t quicken well enough. Alfonso got going midway in the straight and arrived at a good clip. Jockey J Chinoy atop Art O War rode out strongly to sustain until the end, Alfonso falling short by a narrow margin. Jack Dan finished on well to end in the money.

In My Dream (Phoenix Tower – Taralaya, Manjri Stud) after a series of under par performances finally came good and bounced back to score an emphatic victory in the Roedl & Partner Trophy over 2000 meters. While Vulcan led most of the way, Simon Says was brushed up to go past Frosty at the turn to go for the lead coming into the straight. Frosty did a look tad rusty and was under pressure early in the straight. Simon Says shaped well approaching the distance post which is when In My Dream lit up and showed a deal of brilliance to zip ahead past Simon Says to clinch the issue in the final 100 meters to go away from the field. In My Dream finished powerfully with jockey Suraj Narredu lending able support to get the Katrak trained filly to give off her best at an important juncture of her career. This win will install considerable confidence in the filly and she can look forward optimistically for her forthcoming Mumbai campaign.  

Lincoln (Excelebration – Evelyn May, Nanoli Stud) scored a fluent victory winning the  German Unity Day Trophy without encountering any trouble. He got off to a good start and took a few seconds to make his way to the front from an outside draw and then smoothly sailed ahead of them all. Once in the straight, Lincoln, with apprentice lad Zeeshan in the saddle, left the field cold and stormed home with a healthy margin to show for his victory. Lincoln had gone away from them all in no time and young Zeeshan perhaps got to know what an ‘armchair ride’ really meant. The manner of victory suggests that Lincoln can be expected to score early in Mumbai if his master Pesi Shroff chooses to rest him until then. Lord Commander ran on to finishing second beating Ascension to third.   

Two debutantes – Yellowstone and Maserati were under scrutiny in the day’s opening race and neither returned with flying colours in their first outing. Yellowstone in fact was the favourite but he too looked underdone for his debut. Lady Almeda (Lope de Vega – Zafayra, Manjri Stud) chose the occasion to taste her first career success. Partnered by Yash Narredu, Lady Almeda essayed the mile race start to finish. Going at a steady pace all through, Lady Almeda had to work hard to stay in the lead. While the debutantes never were in the hunt, Grand Accord was progressing in the straight. Yash had to keep goading his mount all the way to the wire, his early lead in the straight definitely coming in handy. Grand Accord was a shade too late to warm up and when he did, he cut the margin quickly but missed the trick falling short by a length in the end.

Star Ace (Ace – Star Spangled, Poona Stud) fought brilliantly to pip Hunayn on the post to bring about her first victory on her 19th attempt. The Dallas Todywalla trainee showed a great deal of determination as she galloped gamely in the final furlong. Hunayn had a handy lead as he darted ahead in the straight. He looked good to last coming into the final furlong until Star Ace started to close in rapidly. They hit the wire together with Star Ace just managing to peg back Hunayn at precisely the right moment. Sir Song improved to end in the money.

Adhirajsingh Jodha trained Fencing (Sedgefield – Saffron, Jai Govind Stud) achieved her maiden success producing a fine gallop in the homestretch. In the mid-field most of the way Fencing improved position past the 800 to be in striking position entering the homestretch.

Eternal Dancer had led them from the start and on entering the straight, he was not ready to let go without a fight. Favourite Huzzah’s Grace had too much to do in the straight and didn’t get a clear passage either. Eternal Dancer fought hard, but Fencing was easily the best moving in the final 100m and she easily collared Eternal Dancer a couple of strides from the winning post to register her first victory on her sixth outing.   

For the professionals, trainer Narendra Lagad had a profitable day sending out a lucrative treble, while jockeys Dashrath Singh and Neeraj Rawal scored a double each.