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By Mahendra Mallya | 25 Aug 2019 | PUNE

Mr K H Vachha leading Headway (CS Jodha Up), winner of The Panchshil Million

Trainer Sunderji’s ward Headway (Arazan – Mazeej, Poonawalla Stud) showed marked improvement over his last victorious run and this time smashed a better set of horses to score an impressive victory and pocket the Panchshil Million with ease.  

Headway, with jockey CS Jodha astride, gave little indication of the brilliance he would show seconds later and settled in the mid-field as Anatevka showed good early speed to lead them into the straight. However, she fell back alarmingly and finished way down the field just as quickly. Dandi March moved up nicely, however he was completely overwhelmed by Headway who made an aggressive forward move early in the straight. Jodha confidently rode Headway out and the bay gelding accelerated strongly to shut the opposition out pretty early as there was still a furlong to go!  None could match the brilliance shown by Headway who won by close to two lengths without being extended. Lorraine came with a late bid to finish a notable second ahead of Lesrel and Pablo.

Trainer Narendra Lagad has proven time and again that Pune is his stronghold. He had another bright day leading in three winners. Naren started the day on a winning note with his ward Power of Thor (Whatsthescript – Octagleam, Nanoli Stud) obliging his large following with a well-fought victory. Power of Thor followed the same pattern of running that had seen him win easily in his previous run of improving early enough to be in striking distance at the turn.

This time however, Gold Magic offered stiff resistance in the straight and Power of Thor, Trevor up, had to sweat it out to collar the challenger. Power of Thor made the right moves at the right time and although Gold Magic had the upper hand even into the final furlong, it was clear that it would be a matter of time before Power of Thor would nail him. Sure enough, Power of Thor finished on strongly winning it by half a length. Gold Magic was gritty and ended a fighting second, well ahead of Hi Ho Silver.

Lagad struck next with popular fancy Majestic Warrior (Leitir Mor – One Magic Moment, Poonawalla Stud) who won almost start-to-finish with jockey J Chinoy in the saddle. Majestic Warrior moved up quickly to join Cipher and Belgravia and then surged ahead to lead them comfortably coming into the straight. Majestic Warrior quickened on turning for home and sped away compiling a handy lead. While Cipher was getting nowhere, Belgravia faded out completely. Debutante Rainbow Trout took a stride or two to warm up but once he got into top gear, Rainbow Trout looked good eating up ground briskly. She had to cover considerable ground in the final furlong and eventually did well to fall short by just one length. This augurs well for Rainbow Trout and it is very likely that she would pick up her maiden win the next time out. Cipher ended a close third.

Narendra Lagad capped the day with Navigator who showed them the way right through to the winning post. Navigator (China Visit – Olivia Valere, Usha Stud) had shown a spark while finishing third last time out and benefitted immensely from that run to come into his own and score a facile victory and earning his first winning bracket.

Navigator was off to a fiery start and led comfortably as they turned for home. Dragonmoss, who was close behind, could do little as Navigator galloped away and out of range in a matter of strides. Navigator was lengths clear midway in the straight and romped home to win by a handsome margin of close to ten lengths! Dragonmoss kicked on to take the runner-up berth far behind, while Dazzling Eyes saved the place money.

Trainer Asad Siddiqui’s ward Sassy Lass (Excellent Art – Mooring, Poonawalla Stud) collard Arabian Storm closer home to score a fashionable win on her favourite track. She had last won back-to-back races on this very track last Pune season.

Arabian Storm led early with Sassy Lass a close second; these two kept the rest at bay. Arabian Storm had a good lead and was galloping well too, however, Sassy Lass with apprentice jockey AS Peter in the saddle, started to wear him down. He drew closer with every stride and urged Sassy Lass ahead in the final few strides to win comfortably in the end. Arabian Storm fought on to stay in second at the wire keeping favourite Auroden at bay. Aberlour ran on to take the final slot in the frame.

Subhag Singh’s Daddy’s Pride (Oath Cannon Jet, Pratap Stud) was ridden astutely by jockey TS Jodha to down a determined My Precious close home. Thea ‘s Fire tried the runaway tactics and was some distance ahead past the 1000m mark, but all that came to a nought when My Precious took charge at the turn. My Precious then led well into the straight with Daddy’s Pride switching lanes and coming up to challenge. Neither Mishka’s Pride nor Gold Medalist could offer any worthwhile challenge as both failed to quicken. The fight was on between My Precious and Daddy’s Pride and they drew well clear of the rest. Daddy’s Pride finished on strongly and surged past My Precious to win by a narrow margin. My Precious was gallant in defeat and put up a lively fight all the way in the homestretch. Gold Medalist ended a tame third.

Elusive Star (Elusive Quality – Celadon, Manjri Stud) trained by Pesi Shroff, came off a tardy start and then had to take the turn widest, yet managed to produce a good burst in the final furlong to score a commendable victory on her debut.

Seniority led them until the homestretch and then fell back as favourite Dreams arrived with a good gallop. The others were spread out and were catching up when Elusive Star picked up speed and arrived with a fast gallop to surge past them all and score a comfortable victory. Noble Heir was last at the turn, but rallied well to finish a noteworthy second, well ahead of Dreams.

The joy of Elusive Star’s connections however, was short lived as the filly stumbled a furlong after the winning post and it is leant that she suffered a fracture and had to be put down on humanitarian grounds.

For the professionals, trainer Narendra Lagad was the star of the day sending out three winners. Jockey P Trevor scored a double.