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By Mahendra Mallya | 31 Dec 2017 | MUMBAI

Trainer Narendra Lagad leading Excellent Gold (Dashrath Singh Up), winner of The P D Bolton Trophy

Narendra Lagad trained Excellent Gold (Excellent Art – Only For Gold, Poonawalla Astonish Stud) fought hard and did not give an inch to snatch a close win beating favourite Summer Rays and pocketing the PD Bolton Trophy run over 1200 meters. The bay gelding has run into top form and now has notched up his fourth straight win between Pune and Mumbai.

It was not all that easy though for Excellent Gold and he had to earn his win as his main rival Summer Rays wouldn’t make it any easier for him. Their battle brewed soon on turning for home with Summer Rays taking charge getting past the tiring leader Deep Diver. Excellent Gold quickly came alongside and stuck by summer Rays from the distance post. The pair matched stride for stride all the way to the wire, only Excellent Gold found that extra bit a few strides from the winning post and seemed to have had the measure of the favourite going for the final finish, eventually winning by a head. Queen Credible ran on to finish third, considering she was out tardily from the gates, she did well to recover and finish close behind the top two. Excellent Gold in his current form can stretch his winning streak, while Summer Rays - a gallant runner-up, should live to fight another day.

Young apprentice jockey SA Amit is steadily making his presence felt and has been in pleasing touch as far as his riding skills and temperament are concerned. He won two races both over the distance of 2000m and a longer race is always a good test for young students of the game. He accomplished a fine double and is on the right track to evolve into a fine jockey as he matures.

He started the day on a winning note astride long-shot Square Moon (Sedgefield – Shining Force, Jai Govind Stud) to a start to finish victory, guiding the friendless runner astutely. He raced to the front soon on start and when he realized the others were happy letting him lead, he steadied his mount and galloped at a comfortable pace all the way into the straight. The piping hot favourite Mekong Delta raced in the rear as usual, only this time, she could not finish as she is known to do.

Square Moon had a handy lead coming inside the final furlong and SA Amit did the rest to ensure there was no last-minute surprise. Eternal Sunshine did get close, but there never was enough ground to topple the free-wheeling leader as Square Moon galloped on relentlessly to shut the door on the challenge.

Amit next rode out Silver Edge (Aussie Rules – Lady Songbird, Hazara Stud) this time differently over the same distance (2000m) and timed his assault early. He had Silver Edge right with the bunch in front and made an aggressive forward move at the bend, forcing his way between horses and going for the lead entering the homestretch. Silver Edge, as he had done in his last start win, surge ahead past the 400 to build up useful lead. The rest were laboring behind and Silver Edge looked the winner a furlong from home. A couple of cracks and Silver Edge shifted out under pressure, but Amit quickly put the whip away and nursed his mount to straighten up and score with a measure of comfort. Star Ace and Silver Moon were gaining on Silver Edge but neither could get at Silver Edge.

Smasher (Multidimensional – Exquisite, Greentree Stud) showed marked improvement over his ordinary performances thus far, galloping resolutely to achieve his maiden success on his fifth outing. He was stalking the early leader and main rival Swiftness all the way into the homestretch. Once in the straight, Smasher, ridden by Neeraj Rawal, zipped ahead and it was all over. Smasher galloped further away from his rivals to win unchallenged. Komandant who raced behind Smasher all through, improved to beat the rest and finish second a little under five lengths from the winner.

In The Stars (Phoenix Tower – Little Treasure, Manjri Stud) made ample amends over her last run loss and showed her brilliance in the final furlong to beat chief opponent Roosevelt comprehensively. Roosevelt sailed into the lead early in the homestretch but had In The Stars lurking close behind. Before Roosevelt could take advantage of the early run, In The Stars arrived with a dazzle and collared Roosevelt easily and then stormed away to score a fashionable victory, the way she had done on her debut in Pune, showing that all is well with her and she is one to reckon with over the sprint. She is bound to improve and it would be interesting to see if her connections pitch her over the longer distance at all. Roosevelt was squarely humbled but he ran on to end finishing second best. Fabio had a forward run leading from the start until beaten by the two superior opponents and can show better in a weaker company.

Walk On By (Varenar – Eubee, Equus Stud) sailed away in the final furlong to score a comfortable win with a something to spare. The Hosidar Daji trained filly, got into a fine rhythm right from start and jockey Zervan had her surge into the lead soon on settling down. Once in the lead, she never looked back and galloped away to score in a facile manner. Mighty Warrior, who stuttered at the start, improved well in the straight to finish a noteworthy second.

Tomahawk (Abbeyside – Angelina Jolie, (Keher Stud) won a last stride thriller in the concluding race of the day. To make it even more dramatic, Tomahawk jumped out slowly and tailed the field for a brief while before improving steadily. Even at the turn he was not in the spotlight and was way down the field.

Isinit darted away in the straight more than four lengths ahead of the field but failed to sustain. Soon Galtero arrived to take charge approaching the distance post. While the others were plodding Tomahawk started to warm up and inched closer to Galtero. It was only in the last 100 meters that Galtero felt the threat as Tomahawk started to wear him down. A picthed battle ensued and Tomahawk, in a final strong surge just managed to pip Galtero on the post.

For the professionals, upcoming apprentice jockey SA Amit was the only pro to score a double.