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By Mahendra Mallya | 11 Aug 2019 | HYDERABAD

Trainer L V R Deshmukh leading Liberate (Surya Prakash Up), winner of The Stewards Cup

Liberate (Air Support – Efrhina) pulled off a sensational start-to-finish victory to clinch the Stewards’ Cup in a thrilling finish. Liberate always stayed well ahead of the rest until well into the straight. Inside the homestretch, Liberate extended well and maintained that three lengths lead coming into the final furlong. While Big Brave was going nowhere, Midnight Dream and Tootsie Roll started to close in on Liberate. Apprentice jockey Surya Prakash rode out relentlessly keeping the Deshmukh ward going all the way, leaving the others to do the catching up. Both Midnight Dream and Tootsie Roll tried hard and came dangerously close to toppling Liberate, however, they both were a stride too late. Liberate held on to win by a head with Midnight Dream and Tootsie Roll breathing down his neck at the wire. Tootsie Roll was a tad unfortunate as jockey Akshay Kumar had to check his mount more than once while looking for a clear passage and that cost him dearly in the end.

M Srinivas Reddy trained Pontius Pilate (Varenar – Pure Elation) scored a fashionable win making ample amends to his last start failure. Taking off well from the gates Pontius Pilate showed good early speed and led the field not allowing Rahil to go ahead at any stage, while the others followed in a bunch a couple of lengths behind. Favourite Marinetti was stuck in the mid-bunch and left a lot to do in the straight.

Pontius Pilate was comfortably ahead as Rahil faded away. Apprentice jockey Gaurav Singh rode out confidently as Pontius Pilate galloped on powerfully to force the issue by a comfortable margin. Aon Aon Aon improved well to take the second spot, while Marinetti, who was clearly short of a run, finished on to save the place money.

Ace Ace Ace (Win Legend – Refreshing) made it a three in a row between seasons, marching off to his second win this season taking his career tally to six wins from nine starts. This one too was a big win and what was more commendable was that Ace Ace Ace cruised all the way once in the straight and won easing up. The RH Sequeira ward was never tested and jockey Akshay Kumar did not even have to urge him at any stage. This one was a sweet run flawless if there was one. Starlight improved in the straight and managed to pip Be Sure and the fast finishing Top Link for the minor placing.

The Great Gatsby (Speaking of Which – Cest Bon) took just one run to get into the groove and put her debut run behind to score an impressive victory and shake off her maiden status. Jockey Ashhad Asbar literally toyed with the opposition looking back as early as while taking the turn. The Great Gatsby galloped fluently once in the straight and none of the others seemed like even getting closer. The chestnut colt won on a tight rein and promises to add to his win sooner than later. Star of Tiara was the best of the beaten lot, coming in with a strong finish to snatch the runner-up berth from the favourite Mahashakti who showed little improvement after his first outing. Excelsior ran on to finish in the frame, close behind Mahashakti.

Ten to one shot Human Touch (Lucifer Sam – Celestrella) chose the day to bounce back from a streak of poor runs and spoil the party for Joy of Giving. The latter had done most things right leading all the way into the final furlong and shaping well to kick on, before Human Touch arrived with a fast gallop. Jockey Rohit Kumar had a task on hand as human Touch was not galloping fluently and was hanging out in the crucial stage. The lad managed to set his mount right in the nick of time and stormed past Joy of Giving a few meters from the winning post to notch up a victory by two lengths. Joy of Giving was unlucky to find Human Touch regain his touch and see his good effort go down close home. Top Contender managed to pip Vijay’s Empress for the place stakes.  

Run Runner Run (Stern Opinion – Sekmeta) was another one who created a flutter while winning at longer odds. The Ananta Vatsalya trainee showed a lot of zest as he stormed past leader Country’s Gift in the final furlong and sped ahead. Royal Dancer was the fastest of the lot in the last 100 meters and nearly toppled the winner finishing on with a fiery gallop. He fell shot by a neck! Story Teller was well-poised to make a race of it, but took a long while to get going. He did cover ground in the dying moments of the race ending a close third, pushing Country’s Gift to fourth.

For the professionals, trainer Sreekant and jockey Rohit Kumar scored a double each.