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By Mahendra Mallya | 28 Oct 2018 | PUNE

Trainer Imtiaz A Sait leading Raees (Akshay Kumar Up), winner of The Aquaguard Championship R.W.I.T.C. Ltd Gold Cup (Gr.2)

Favourites took a tumble on the final day of the Pune Season 2018 and not a single prime fancy managed to oblige in the eight-race card. For the smarter punters who hedge their bets, would have cut their losses as some of the winners were in the betting and had the form, given the nourishing odds that were offered on such winners. The bookmakers possibly raked-in the most on the last day, as winners such as Hyannis, Raees and Safdar had minimum number pay-outs against heavy betting on fancied horses. The jackpot and super jackpot pools were carried forward. 

Raees (Sedgefield – Lost Perfection, Jai Govind Stud) enjoyed his most successful season following up his victory in the Suresh Mahindra Trophy over 3200m just a fortnight ago with another solid effort this time winning the Aquaguard Championship RWITC Ltd Gold Cup (Gr2), not an easy task by any means – an ideal reward to his master Imtiaz Sait who days ago chalked his 2000th career win at topped the trainers’ tally in the western India circuit. These are achievements most laudable and Raees I reckon gave Imtiaz a fitting tribute. 

B Fifty Two set a good pace and lead comfortably with Kambaku in second, Raees in third and the rest following close behind. B Fifty Two sped further ahead past the 800 and had a handy lead turning for home. A couple of cracks from jockey Akshay Kumar had Raees surging past Kambaku and begin his chase to draw closer to the leader. Auburn and Caprisca started to move together with Caprisca getting the measure of Auburn with surprising ease. Raees meanwhile started to warm up nicely and with Akshay Kumar riding ably, was in line with B Fifty Two and the fast approaching Caprisca. In the final few strides, Raees flew past B Fifty Two, Caprisca too finished on fast but was not fast enough to beat her lesser fancied stable-mate and Raees it was who grabbed the coveted trophy in a thrilling finish. Watchmyscript, who was last to turn for home, made a valiant attempt but it was all over by then, however, she did well to take the third spot. 

Lethal Steps (Phoenix Tower – Scionic, Manjri Stud) built on her last maiden success and score an encore with similar dazzle to claim the Shamu Chavan Trophy division I. Chasing the front running pair of Gloriana and favourite Charles Bridge, Lethal Steps came alive soon on straightening up and zipped past Charles Bridge with ease and then bolted ahead to stamp her superiority within strides. Lethal Steps, trained by Dallas Todywalla and ridden by P Trevor, outpaced them all to notch up yet another impressive victory. Bounty Queen did well to finished second ahead of Mount Olympus and Nembe Greek. 

Safdar (Ace – Flaming Glory, Exhilaration Stud) won the lower division of the race at longer odds. The Rehanullah Khan trainee was up in front and raced along the rails just behind leader Falconette who had Sporto alongside. 

Into the straight, Falconette weakened and soon Safdar switched lanes to get going with Sporto putting up a challenge. Flammeus was right beside but failed to quicken. Safdar soon grabbed the initiative and once in the lead Safdar, ridden by Bhawani Singh, kicked on gamely to win comfortably. Sporto ended second ahead of Flammeus and Adele. 

Oriana (Multidimensional – Silken Star, Usha Stud) from the stables of Malesh Narredu picked up her maiden win over the 1800m day’s opener. Favourite Pathan took charge soon on turning for home getting past Royal Ace with ease. Oriana made an early move to begin her chase. Pathan shaped well approaching the distance post as he had a clear two-length lead, however, Oriana  started to apply pressure and Pathan was found wanting. Oriana snatched the lead but jockey Neeraj Rawal had to ride her out all the way as Gnostic Eyes and Benevolence were coming at her at a brisk race. Gnostic Eyes in particular was most impressive as he covered a lot of ground in the final 100 and was easily the best moving of them all at the business end. Oriana just about managed to hold and post a narrow win.  

Noshir Cama trained Hyannis (Win Legend – Twice Over, Deshmesh Stud) put in a strong gallop to notch up a debut win pegging back the favourite Highland Lass and flooring the majority of the jackpot pool hunters. Jockey B Nikhil was far from being clinical, as he had have much control to stop Hyannis from drifting out at the turn, thus taking the turn widest. By then, Highland Lass had had the measure of early leader Officer in Command and was being hailed the winner approaching the distance post. Highland Lass was well clear of the rest and galloping at a good clip when Hyannis unleashed a powerful burst. Within a matter of a couple of strides it all changed and Hyannis came at a tearaway speed to romp home in style and make it a memorable debut. 

Pesi Shroff trained Sacred Roman (Holy Roman Emperor – Clicquot, Star Born Stud) won the Party Whip Plate with a glorious fight back after he seemed to be going down when Jet Fire got past him briefly in the fight to the finish.  

Sacred Roman brushed up after settling down and raced past Articulate to snatch the early lead. He entered the straight with Articulate and Jet Fire close behind. While Articulate bowed out, Jet Fire moved up to challenge. Jet Fire even headed Sacred Roman, but the latter proved a tough nut to crack as he fought back gallantly to wrest back the issue close home, scoring his maiden victory in a tough battle. Jet Fire missed out again and ended second best for the fifth time in his nine-race career.  

Champion trainer Narendra Lagad kept his stranglehold on the Pune track dishing out a fantastic double that won him the Championship title for 2018. He first sent out Dance of Fire (Phoenix Tower – Koh Samui, Manjri Stud) in the second race of the day. 

Dance of Fire settled in the front bunch as Rasht hit the front with Bonafide and Good Thing tagging along. Rasht faded out after leading them well into the straight as Bonafide and Good Thing started to surge ahead. Dance of Fire, with jockey C Umesh up, poked between horses to come into the fight. While Bonafide dropped out, Good Thing and Dance of Fire fought neck and neck. Dance of Fire eventually got the measure of Good Thing and hit the wire with Top Wizard appearing from nowhere breathing down his neck. Top Wizard was not in the picture when the fight was on and came in sharply to finish a commendable second. Good Thing finished a neck behind to save the place money. 

Narendra Lagad nailed the Champion Trainer title in the concluding race of the day with another thrilling finish and his ward Fire Flame (Excellent Art – Shallow Roll, Highgrove Stud). Bohemian hit the front and had Fire Flame chasing all the time. On entering the straight, Bohemian galloped on stubbornly even as his younger rivals got alongside to challenge. Bohemian shifted out under pressure but was still offering stiff resistance and the fight was going all the way to the wire. Silver Cap was not too far behind and Padmakosa too was posing a threat. Jockey Joy Chinoy rode his heart out and just managed to carve out a narrow win getting past Bohemian a stride or two before the winning post. Silver Cap finished right behind the pair to take the third place just ahead of Padmakosa. 

The Champions of the Season 2018 –

Champion Owner – JM Livestock Pvt Ltd
Champion Trainer – Narendra Lagad
Champion Jockey – P Trevor
Champion Jockey Claiming Allowance – K Nazil 
Champion App Jockey – AS Peter
Champion Stud Farm – Manjri Stud
Leading Bookmaker – Banarasidas (Mumbai)
Leading Bookmaker – Latif & Associates (Pune)