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By Mahendra Mallya | 31 Dec 2018 | HYDERABAD

Trainer Laxman Singh leading Big Brave (Suraj Narredu Up), winner of The G V Rao Memorial Cup

Big Brave (Western Aristocrat – Daily Edition), partnered by ace jockey Suraj Narredu, had it rather easy after sitting well up with the pace and then accelerating early in the homestretch, while claiming the GV Rao Memorial Cup. Exclusive Striker dashed into the lead in the backstretch with Big Brave up in third until they turned for home. Jockey Akshay Kumar didn’t wait too long and sped past the leader to work up good acceleration to stretch away from his rivals. The Laxman Singh trained colt was bullish in his finish and sustained the tempo all the way past the winning post.  Ulysses was too far back for most of the way, but made a late dash to all but get to the winner. Golden Fortune had his chance, but failed to quicken and ended a tame third. 

Riddari (Western Aristocrat – Quiet Lane) seemed to have a fight on hand in the straight but finished on powerfully to win by a fair margin. Your Grace dashed into the lead soon on start and Riddari settled well in second with Samper Fidelis for company. Riddari and Samper Fidelis got past the leader soon on straightening up and the pair fought until the distance post. It was all Riddari from there on as the ever reliable Akshay Kumar got the Sequeira trained gelding to get going at a fast cli to stay well ahead past the post. Samper Fidelis kicked on to take the runner-up berth, while Guiding Force improved to beat Natasha for the third spot. 

K Sateesh trained Solo Winner (Knight’s Tour – Mink Mitten) timed his run to perfection and made all the right moves to outpace close rival Buttonwood to notch up a narrow victory. It was Ashwa Arjun who made a steady pace for the 2000m race followed by Naucratis all along, with Buttonwood making progress through the backstretch, while Solo Winner raced well off the pace in the second last position. 

Ashwa Arjun came into the straight with a handy lead and tried to build on it. Buttonwood had to be pushed hard to get going and took a while to accelerate. Solo Winner warmed up nicely and caught up with the front runners and both Solo Winner and Buttonwood went for broke in the final furlong. These two pulled away from the rest and fought hard all the way to the wire, with Solo Winner finishing on better of the two as he carved out a narrow half-length victory close home. Yogastha ran on to finish in the money; Ashwa Arjun did well to finish in the frame. 

K Sateesh trainee Spice Up (Saamidd – Mille Grazie) showed tremendous improvement over her debut run and notched up her maiden success in the day’s opener, an 1100m affair for two-year-old fillies. Spice Up, with jockey Nakhat Singh astride, settled in second close behind Top Saga and had Star of Tiara on her inside. Top Saga kicked on in the homestretch and was galloping well. Spice Up was inching closer and there was a challenge mounting behind as Khloe and Artistryy too were covering ground briskly. Top Saga failed to sustain as Spice Up made a last ditch effort to draw level with the leader and then surged ahead just in time to score her memorable first win. Khloe finished on well too, managing to pip Top Saga for the second place. Artistryy finished another length behind to take the fourth position. 

Wings of Eagles (Hymn – Sublimely Single), trained by Ravindra Kumar, rallied in a sensation manner to spoil the party for Lockhart who did all the hard work only to see it go down on the last stride. Lockhart was shaping well when switched lanes and started to cover ground briskly past the 400. Long-time leader marvel Princess and Dance All Night weakened as Lockhart zipped past them to take charge. Wings of Eagles, with BR Kumar in the saddle, was still some way down and started to gallop towards the leader. Lockhart was galloping all out and seemed to have the slight upper hand with less than 100 to go, but Wings of Eagle swooped upon him and both dashed past the winning post almost abreast, Wings of Eagle getting the nod right to win a short-head verdict. Drogan ended in the money nosing out Darshish on the post. 

Golden Hope (Ravel – Calliope) Trained by SSF Hassan, was ably ridden by jockey Akshay Kumar who, with a never-say-die effort wore down Joy of Giving and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat literally on the final stride! 

Red Bullet tried his runaway tactics but could only lead them homewards before Joy of Giving moved up nicely to take charge past the 400. Semira was trying hard but not with much conviction. Even Golden Hope seemed to be struggling as jockey Akshay Kumar had to ride him all out using the whip constantly to get him to quicken. Joy of Giving veered out under pressure and that perhaps was her only folly which proved fatal. Given the chance to place his foot in the door, jockey Akshay Kumar put in all his efforts and Golden Hope lifted his game and just managed to pip Joy of Giving on the post, in the nick of time. Joy of Giving was certainly unlucky to have shaped like a winner until the very last stride and then giving it all away. Royal Dancer ran on to save place money. 

Trainer Kishore’s Razor Wind (Varenar – Touch A Star) got off to a flier and sped away early to lead comfortably ahead of the rest as they turned for home. Razor Wind, with jockey P Sai Kumar in the saddle, raced further ahead to build a handy lead and making them chase her down. She was far ahead past the distance post, which is when stable companion Trumph Boy started to close in steadily. However, Razor Wind had enough cushion and she kicked on to ward off the late finishers and rolled on to win by just under one length. Trumph Boy ended a good second ahead of All Star General. 

For the professionals, trainer K Sateesh saddled a double, while jockeys Akshay Kumar and Nakhat Singh scored a double each.