RUFFINA, AZZURRO LIVE UP TO THEIR TOP BILLING
There was no deviation from the day’s script at RCTC on Saturday as Ruffina proved to be the fastest thoroughbred in the country and Azzurro, the best stayer. While the former displayed her amazing turn of foot in the nick of time to lift the Sprinters’ Cup, the latter proved to be a gritty customer and great galloper as he went past the winning post and then pulled up lame. Jockey Trevor Patel had to dismount and unsaddle him. It is not yet clear exactly where during the gruelling 3000 metres race he suffered the injury, though Mr. Zeyn Mirza representing the URBB ownership stated that in all probability, the big-hearted seven-year-old suffered the sprain after passing the winning post.
The Sprinters Cup saw Lincoln set a cracking pace, followed by Amorous White and Cavallo Veloce, while the on-money public fancy was in the mid-division of the nine-horse field. Jockey David Allan astride the prized property of the well-known Poonawalla family seemed in no hurry to improve his position and simply kept an eye on the leaders from a distance. The wily Britisher was however alert to the short straight at this centre and asked his mount for an effort near the distance post. At that point of time, speedy Lincoln was going hell for leather and the backers of the favourite must have had their hearts in their mouths. However, the cool and collected Allan had gauged the incredible potential of his mount rather well and the filly by Excellent Art out of Miss Danehill was equal to the task. She did just enough to sail past the front-runner before easing up on the throttle once again. What a breathtaking performance from a superstar!
Though long in the tooth, SS Attaollahi-trained Azzurro (Azamour-Miss Highjinks/ Kunigal Stud) displayed plenty of guts to bag the ‘best stayer’ sash. When the small field of six runners passed the winning post for the first time, Trevor Patel astride Azzuro was having a trying time to keep his mount from hitting the front as Lord Of The Sea was galloping at a sedate pace. From the 2000m marker, Trevor decided to crank up the pace and took his mount to the head of the field. A breather near the 800m marker saw the others catch up with him but Trevor had a lot in hand and he decided to release the brakes thereafter. Jack Frost cried off at the turning for home but Cadman made a brave effort to bridge the five-length gap unsuccessfully. Though no official confirmation was received from RCTC, the time of 3min 12.4sec for the 3000m trip was well below the record time of 3min 13.3 sec set by Aztec in 1985.
The handicapper seems to be working overtime nowadays and there were quite a few close finishes during the day. At the receiving end of two of these close finishes was Trevor Patel who lost out narrowly on Fiorelle and Accidental. For starters, The Japan Cup, which was the curtain-raiser, saw a nail-biting finish involving Vijay Singh-trained Devotion (Top Class-Temple Bells/ Mukteshwar Stud) and the filly Fiorelle. Jockey S John atop Devotion had to pull out all stops to keep at bay Fiorelle at the wire. In the very next race (also over a mile), The Sans Craintes Stud Trophy, Arti Doctor’s Namid with Zervan astride made every post a winning one, pegging back a strong challenge from the favourite Rufus. Arti Doctor completed a brace when in the very next race, The Brave Dancer Cup, Sweet Music (RS Bhati up) produced a winning gallop in the straight to get the better of the favourite Hartnell. The filly by Dean’s Kitten out of Zahwah thus notched up her third win of the season.
In the next event, The Bookmaker’s Association Cup, Arti Doctor’s Prancing Queen was installed as the favourite. Neeraj Rawal rode a copybook race and showed the filly daylight in the straight but she buckled when challenged strongly by Javed Khan-trained Malana (Western Aristocrat-Understood/ Yeravada Stud) who thus produced an encore, defying her 5kg winning penalty.
The Nanoli Stud Cup saw a close contest between Vijay Singh-trained Cadillac (Excellent Art-Classic Sky) with Suraj Narredu in the saddle and Accidental who made a late bid to snatch the honours at the post but fell short by a mere ‘nose’ verdict. The Kiss was a good third while Kefira’s limitations were exposed. The curtain came down with James McKeown’s six-year-old grey Claymore (Dark Angel-Gavotte) making every post a winning one in the hands of Suraj Narredu. Once again Trevor had to play the ‘best man’ to Suraj as he followed up the winner astride Dark Gold.