Star Warrior Storms, Maseeha Stuns
Star Warrior (M Fenton Up), winner of The Rohan Lifescapes Million
The Twelfth Day of the Mumbai meeting was a day of mixed balance sheets for the followers of money, with five favourites obliging in the nine-race card. The biggest upset, however, came in the Maharaja Jiwajirao Scindia Trophy (Gr3). With highly reputed contenders like Icebreaker, Dancing Dynamite, Phenomenale and the likes, who would have given Maseeha any chance? Maseeha had not won a race for a long time now but in his defence it must be said that he has been consistent in most of his assignments. He has always been a one-paced horse right through his career and has been richly rewarded for his consistency with seven victories in his 25 outings. He has placed on 12 occasions amongst some of the top-rated horses and Maseeha stands out as a shining example for new owners or owners with a smaller banner. Maseeha (Flitch – Six Crowns) was not an expensive buy and the returns this horse has given in terms of stakes earned will take the graph line high, northwards. Combine this with the sheer pleasure this genuine galloper has provided the owners with and you have a great brand ambassador to attract quite a few who would want to invest on horses in a smaller way. Maseeha mocks at the perception that only bigger players draw the pleasure of owning a racehorse! Maseeha flew out of the gates and like he always does, hit the front immediately. Congrats then moved up to take over the running and shot ahead opening a sizable lead in the backstretch. Personified, Mr Greedy, Phenomenale, Icebreaker and Mother’s Pride formed the mid-bunch. Nora, Dancing Dynamite and Aquilo were not too far behind. Congrats surrendered soon in the straight as Maseeha zipped past with a spirited gallop. Maseeha gained in momentum and in quick time sped ahead to build a yawning gap between himself and his rivals. Icebreaker looked like making a race of it when she briefly led the charge from behind, but Maseeha was resolute and jockey Dashrath Singh left nothing to chance. He kept riding hard until he was within touching distance of the winning post. Mr Greedy finished the fastest and his effort fetched him the runner up berth ahead of Icebreaker and Dancing Dynamite. Star Warrior (Razeen – Starry Scene) started the trend of providing some relief to the hapless punters although at cramped odds. He won like a true sprinter and cut a very fast timing (58.61). Hitting the front soon on start, Star Warrior went off at a blistering pace and yet managed to keep the momentum going all the way to the wire. He grew stronger in the homestretch and it was clear that none in the bunch would match strides with Star Warrior. Ocean Wish who ran second was completely overwhelmed as were the rest. Keringdingan held on grimly for the place money. Brutus, who was lethargic to get into the strides, did well to beat the rest for a place in the judge’s frame. Follow Star Warrior until he gets beaten, if he does, that is! There was a controversy over the withdrawal of Saint Vincent in the eighth race. Saint Vincent was restless inside the gates after being loaded. The Club’s vet then ordered a check to ascertain that the gelding was all right. On trotting Saint Vincent, the vet opined that the gelding was not 100 per cent fit, hence had it withdrawn. Saint Vincent was the first favourite for the race. On returning from the starting gates, prominent owners Shirke and Dhunjibhoy, after taking a second opinion, protested the vet’s decision as they claimed that the horse was bell sound which even trainer Pesi Shroff endorsed. It is learnt that Mr Dhunjibhoy later met the stewards and voiced his displeasure at the Vet’s call and lodged an oral protest against the Club’s Vet. Be that as it may, Lone Monarch (Halling – Fetinat Al Melouk) posted a fluent victory improving considerably upon his last start loss to Saint Vincent under the whip less Rajendra on that occasion. Suraj Narredu, partnering Lone Monarch this time, bided his time until the straight and cleverly slipped from the inside rails. Once he got into the lead past the 400, Lone Monarch bounded forward and left the rest fighting for only the minor placing. Lone Monarch won drawing away from the field while Empress of India finished on to run second. Demonstrator too ran on to take the third spot ahead of a listless Vacheron. Our Fortune (Alnasr Alwasheek – Star Fortune) lived up to his supporters’ faith and pulled off a hard-fought victory showing a lot of courage and determination. Flaming Arrow and not the more fancied Irish Queen was seen more prominently in the race. Flaming Arrow tried to go for it start-to-finish. Jockey Neil McCullagh sent Flaming Arrow surging into the lead and at the distance post was still galloping with enthusiasm. Our Fortune who was in chase of the leader all the time, started inching closer and an extremely busy jockey Prakash managed to collar Flaming Arrow just a stride or two before the winning post. Slickkit came in full of running a bit too late and ended on the haunches of the winner and the runner up. Starfall (Senure – Starsinhereyes) shocked the field with a devastating run in the final furlong that caught Blumarine who may be forgiven if he thought he had the race under control. In fact, Blumarine made every post a winning one but Starfall spoilt his party at the all-important end. Starfall was not in the picture when Blumarine came into the final furlong. With a handy lead and with those closest behind not making any impact on Blumarine it appeared that the Imtiaz ward will bag the race. Starfall began to devour ground under some vigorous urging from Suraj Narredu who is in tremendous form, and swooped on the front-runners in the last 100 meters, sparing a long neck at the wire. Star Crowned failed to quicken but held on to place money. Got to Go disappointed and despite being the closest to Blumarine early in the straight, he failed to improve. El Tropico (Juniper – Nature’s Miracle) put in a fantastic gallop in the straight to win the last race of the day in the most convincing fashion. Settling into the fourth position initially, El Tropico took the shortest way into the straight. Whispering Willows and Hunter Bay were fighting for the lead and for a moment, El Tropico was stuck behind this pair. Fortunately for him, Jalsa was too far away and jockey DK Ashish quickly pulled El Tropico out and made his final charge. El Tropico, unhindered, went off on full throttle and within seconds was homebound outclassing his rivals in no uncertain terms. El Tropico’s was an authoritative win and encore cannot be ruled out. Fire Vault (Royal Gladiator – Blackbum Rocket) served the notice of the day that his owner Haresh Mehta will have lots to celebrate on his sponsored day. Fire Vault was the first of the three winners that Mr Mehta led in on Sunday. It could easily have been four had not Flaming Arrow missed his mark narrowly. Fire Vault settled nicely in the mid-bunch as Destined Prince chose to lead the field. Apache Indian was the first to make a forward move when the race took a serious turn. As Apache Indian went past Destined Prince to lead them in, Fire Vault too began making rapid progress. Apache Indian had barely taken charge when Fire Vault pitched forward full of steam to storm past Apache Indian and drew away making it a no contest. Nara hung on for the third and Brezhnev managed to get a place in the frame. Lothario who was tailing the field by some distance and was written off before the bend by most including yours truly, came with a late charge to finish just off the frame by a hundredth of a second. Although he beat a tiring lot, the amount of ground he covered was remarkable. River lass failed to live up to her promise going down fighting to outsider Born Destiny (Steinbeck – Oiseau De Guerre). However, in her defence, she got a check at a crucial stage when Onus Probandi while straightening up, tightened River Lass who was jostling with horses on either side at the turn. River Lass fell back a couple of paces then again had to gather momentum. She did manage to collar the front-runners covering ground at a brisk pace until Born Destiny came flying towards the finish. Ballad of Glory (Glory of Dancer – Diamonds For Ever) won the first race of the day from the word go. Jockey SP Ranjane took the Hormuz Antia filly to the front and never looked back. Ballad of Glory galloped on regardless of who is coming from behind and posted his first victory. Flo Nightingale gained on him in the last 100 meters to run a good second while favourite Orada ended a tame third. For the professionals, jockey Suraj Narredu scored a fine treble while trainers Cooji Katrak and Mansoor Shah saddled a double each.