SPEEDY ASCENSION TROUNCES OPPOSITION
Mr Vikram Bachhawat & trainer Javed Khan leading Ascension (C S Jodha Up) winner of The Aerona Cup
The opening day of the Calcutta Monsoon Season saw the satchel-bearers gaining the upper hand as punters got the rough end of the stick for the most part. There was however a silver lining to the day’s proceedings as Javed Khan-trained Ascension (Phoenix Tower-Wedded Woman/ Manjri Stud) left the opposition standing in the home stretch to record a resounding victory in the Aerona Cup. Tracking front-running One Man Army closely till well into the straight, the four-year-old filly shot ahead the moment CS Jodha reminded her of the task ahead with a couple of cracks of the whip. The property of popular owner Vikram Bachhawat was backed down from 2/1 to 14/10 and provided the only respite for punters who otherwise burnt their fingers as no other favourite obliged.
The opening event of the afternoon saw James McKeown’s Royal One (Royal Gladiator-Classic One/ Pratap Stud), who incidentally is the lowest rated horse at this centre, pick up a good gallop in the straight and win by half-length from Lucky Streak who was along the rails and failed to find a passage as there was a wall of horses in front of him. He had to be switched to the outside in the final furlong and this may have cost him the race. By now punters have got used to this six-year-old finishing close up without raising the winning flag. Those who opted for SHP and Place were the gainers. There were no takers for the winner except for those in the know.
It was a similar case in the Brown Wolf Handicap won by seven-year-old Indus Prince (Noverre-Patricia/ Sohna Stud) who was piloted to a fairly comfortable victory. The aged war horse does possess plenty of early speed and this helped him keep pace with stablemate Jacknife who was being fancied by some. However, the bottom weight who was actually ½ kg out of the scale, used his pull in weights to good effect. Ranidan Singh used the stick effectively and stunned the field. The favourite Bacaardi was the only mount of visiting jockey Sandesh’s five mounts to finish second. Sandesh disappointed his many followers for no fault of his. None of his mounts had it in them to cross the wire first. The Patrick Quinn-trained pair of Aquitania and Al Shafa, who were both favourites, finished in the ruck.
While the visiting ace had a dismal day, local star Christopher Alford dispelled all doubts and rumours about his riding form, with a well-crafted win astride 7/1 shot Exclusive Power (Chevalier-Arnatta/ Ruia Stud) from Raunak Banerji’s yard. The veteran of many battles is known to abhor the use of the whalebone (especially on youngsters) and showed that there is no better mode of riding than hands-and-heels. He tapped the stick only once to set his mount on even keel when she threatened to drift out in the straight. The long striding filly responded magnificently and should be quite comfortable over longer trips.
Top-weight Arakawah (Rebuttal-Lambency/ Hazara Stud) made every post of the Best Of All Handicap a winning one in the hands of Hindu Singh. The Manvendra Singh ward thus completed a double for the jockey who had earlier ridden Royal One to victory. As she is wont to do Shy Belle lost some ground at the start and yet finished a good second.
Champion trainer Vijay Singh’s four-year-old gelding Multiple (Multidimensional-Al Dente/ Usha Stud) showed plenty of initial speed to make every post of the State Treasure Handicap a winning one. The connections were unhappy with Sandesh’s handling of the favourite Aquitania who missed the jump-out by about five lengths. The stipes have opened an enquiry into the race. Top-weight Knighthood was a good second and will be worth keeping an eye on in the future.
The curtain came down to the opening day’s proceedings with apprentice Tejeshwar riding Richard Alford-trained City Heights (Ikhtyar-City Tamer/ Nanoli Stud) to a bewildering victory. The friendless seven-year-old is known to possess plenty of early speed and like Indus Prince, this helped his cause as the others were completely outpaced. The three-year-old filly Magique was fancied by some but left all her chances at the gates. Top-weight Demonstrate was simply outpaced by the speedy front runner who was receiving 10 kg from him after the 4kg allowance claimed by his apprentice.