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By Mahendra Mallya | 17 Dec 2018 | HYDERABAD

Trainer L D Silva leading Corfe Castle (Akshay Kumar Up), winner of The Golconda 2000 Guineas (Gr.2)

The Golconda 2000 Guineas day saw another swashbuckling performance by champion jockey Akshay Kumar whose rise has been metaphorical with a spate of winners coming his way. After clipping the record breaching the 50 winners’ mark last season, the Champion rider notched up his first winner overseas recently at the Mauritius Turf Club. He was in his elements yet again bagging the prize event – the Golconda 2000 Guineas (Gr2) and booting home another three that served as appetizers and one post the big race for dessert.

Akshay Kumar was at his brilliant best through the day, especially in the Classic where he had to surface from the rear at the final turn to light up Corfe Castle (Excellent Art – Miss Danehill) bred at Villoo’s Greenfield Farm, to sustain top momentum right through the longish Hyderabad straight.

They were off to a level start and initially the top three finishers were at the rear end of the field. As they settled down, King Khalil stepped up the pace to lead the field with Treasure Delight and Mark My Word up with the leader. Corfe Castle progressed gradually to the mid-bunch past the half way mark with the field running in a closely huddled bunch.

The front-running trio wilted away on turning for home. Before any runner could capitalize on that, Corfe Castle who had a slight scuffle with Indian Pharaoh while rounding the bend, warmed up to put in a sizzling gallop and looked good with Akshay Kumar improving positions, still hard held. The moment he gave Corfe Castle the go, the L D’Silva trainee sped ahead and even stole a march in a trice leaping towards the winning post at a good fast clip. Indian Pharaoh made a late dash and bridged the gap, but found the scorching finish of Corfe Castle too hot to counter. Corfe Castle was classy and looked back at his best and jockey Akshay could not have given him a better ride. Jockey David Allan did his best too and got close to the winner, but had to be content with the runner-up berth. David lodged an objection too for that brief jostle at the entrance of the homestretch, however, it was overruled. Rikki Tikki Tavi edged out Areca Legend to finish a good third.

Jockey Akshay Kumar started his roll for the day astride trainer Hassan’s ward That’s My Magic (Saamid – Real Magic) winning the Salarjung Cup beating favourite Bradford College with surprising ease. Well, Bradfield College did get a stroke of bad luck when he got stuck behind Satin Symphony soon on turning for home. This happened just when That’s My Magic and Bradfield College were racing abreast after having straightened for home. That’s My Magic and Akshay moved to the outside cleverly shutting the gap for Bradfield College who was forced to move inwards. Satin Symphony  didn’t help the favourite’s cause and Bradfield College clearly broke his rhythm and by the time he could shift gears That’s My Magic had drawn away at a fast clip travelling smoothly all the way past the post.

Akshay then partnered trainer Kishore’s ward Western Wind (West Virginia – Miraflores) to a fine victory to pocket the Mysore Race Club Cup Division II in much the same fashion. He settled in fourth position until the turn and went for it soon on straightening up. Western Wind accelerated nicely and went into the lead approaching the distance post and carried the momentum all the way to the wire. Ashwa Bahula was the one who finished the fastest to beat the rest and end up taking the second spot a length ahead of Southern Promise and Mandy.

Highly Acclaimed (Phoenix Tower – Play That Tune) held on grimly and did well to sustain when threatened in the dying moments of the race. Five-kilo claimer Surya Prakash must have ridden to instructions of trainer Deshmukh as he took the bay to the front right from the start. Isabella fell back from initial second to fourth at the turn and that perhaps cost her dearly in the end.

Highly Acclaimed shot further ahead in the homestretch and built up a sizable lead inside the final furlong. Isabella had a lot to cover and she came hard at the leader covering ground briskly particularly in the last 100 meters. Another stride and the result could have swung in her favour but jockey Surya Prakash was up to the task and never weakened in his pushing and ensured there were no last stride disappointment whatsoever, winning by just over a neck. Champion Bull was never in the hunt and finished a faraway third.

Liberate (Air Support – Efrhina) had to fight hard to make a successful debut and the Deshmukh trained filly showed good maturity for her first outing. She settled behind leader Soviet Pride and made her move only after they turned into the homestretch. Jockey Suraj Narredu got Liberate to quicken and easily surged past Soviet Pride. He took off and built a handy lead approaching the distance post but it was not over yet. Born Greek started to chip off yards producing a fiery finish and he was indeed getting closer with every stride. However, Liberate was up to the task and galloped on resolutely to ward off the serious challenge posed by Born Greek to cap it with a neck verdict. Born Greek has done everything right in all his four outings, but has unfortunately missed out on picking a win by a narrow margin yet again. Tote favourite Monte Ray never looked prominent and ended a tame third a good five lengths behind.

LVR Deshmukh’s Egyptian Prince (Eskendereya – Stonestreet Lady) followed his maiden win last time out with an even better effort to win with a healthy margin. He settled quickly in second but made his move early in the straight to take charge. Once in the led, Egyptian Prince found no worthy challenger. Ajmal Birju, who moved up from behind to almost take the lead just before the turn fell back and could not match up to his rivals. Egyptian Prince had the whole stretch to himself as he galloped resolutely outpacing his opponents and romping home for an emphatic victory, promising to add another before long. Guiding Force progressed from the tail end to finish a faraway second. Solo Winner too improved to finish in the money.

N Ravindra Singh trained Yanga (Mull of Kintyre – Michele Marieci) was another won to win handsomely with a big margin. Ridden by jockey TS Jodha, Yanga settled in the third position behind Et Voici and Top Link until well into the straight. Top Link got past Et Voici but had Yanga moving aggressively on the outside. As Yanga moved in, Top Link shied inwards and Et Voici did get squeezed on the inner railing. That put the filly off focus and she fell back drastically. Yanga accelerated nicely and soon packed off the bunch galloping at a good rate and drawing away from them all. She won easing up winning my just under seven lengths. Sea Castle ran on to beat Sarvatra for the third.

It was Akshay Kumar back in action in the last race, this time piloting trainer Sequeira’s Solar Heights (Abbeyside – Epic) to a convincing victory. Handsome Duo galloped well leading them well into the final furlong. Solar Heights had to improve positions and once she picked up speed he produced a good burst of speed that floored the rest in a matter of split seconds. Solar Heights darted ahead inside the final furlong and it was all over. She drew away from them all to post an impressive victory, making light work of the top weight she was carrying. She won by a neat two-and-half lengths. Handsome Duo held on to the second spot finishing a length ahead of Evon Von Bando, who was slightly inconvenienced at a crucial juncture at the business end. Brave Warrior also progressed well to finish in the frame.

For the professionals, Akshay Kumar was the star of the day once again with four wins to show. Trainer LVR Deshmukh saddled a fine treble.