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By Mahendra Mallya | 13 Jan 2020 | HYDERABAD

Trainer S Sreekant leading Mr Baahubali (P Ajeeth Kumar Up), winner of The Hovercraft Plate

One of Jackpot pool hunter went laughing to the bank at the end of the day having literally hit the jackpot of close to Rs 800,000l- and deserves accolades for getting one of the toughest combinations right. Rank outsiders, without any form to back them, scored one after another right through the day. Followers of form were confounded repeatedly and the only solace was when Trump Girl and Wah Ms Zara obliged in their respective races, giving the punters some solace in between the sound trashing they received race after race.

The day began on an ominous note with friendless Blazing Jupiter (Green Coast – Justicia) hurtling in to seize his moment and notch up his maiden victory on his 9th start. That he did nothing of note in his previous eight starts is another matter. He hadn’t even finished within eight lengths of the winner in any of his previous runs and Lo and Behold, Blazing Jupiter found his bearings and improved well enough to beat his more fancied stablemate; that amounts to a ‘doosra’ (wrong ‘un) for trainer Satyanarayana.

Let It Be Me looked in command as he led them into the straight and continued to gallop gamely. However, apprentice jockey Jitendra Singh was caught unawares when Let It Be Me suddenly started drifting out alarmingly. The lad just couldn’t control the outward drift and he too favourite Secret Command along with him. Crackershow could not take advantage of a lovely opportunity as she failed to quicken. That is when Blazing Jupiter barged in and stole the show. He came with a sustained effort (hardly seen before) and sped past Crackershow and the drifting duo to snatch the much needed win. Let It Be Me squandered a great chance of bringing up his first win and ended second, but was relegated to the fourth spot following an objection by the trainer of Secret Command who was worst effected in the race. Crackershow got promoted to second and Secret Command to third.

Ursula showed alacrity right from the start and galloped at a nippy pace as she led the field homewards. California Beauty who was in second, could not quicken nor did Composure who was right behind. Ursula seemed to have a handy cushion as she entered the final furlong leading by about 2-3 lengths and with both California Beauty and Composure not looking threatening Ursula was shaping like a winner. Wah Ms Zara (Sedgefield – Cozumel) picked up momentum past the distance post and was soon travelling at top speed in the hands of jockey Akshay Kumar, covering ground at a brisk pace. The Ravindra Singh trainee was sharp in the last few strides and collard Ursula a couple of strides from the winning post to storm ahead and score a scintillating victory. Ursula was nearly there, but not quiet and had to settle for the second spot for her good effort. California Beauty didn’t capitalise in the homestretch, but managed to save place money.

Trainer D Netto’s Latest News (Roi Maudit – Ice Stone) made a commendable rally in the dying moments of the race to carve out a narrow win. It looked that favourite Ashwa Yudh Vijeta was well on his way to outpace his rivals as he had a comfortable lead coming into the final furlong. Brave Syera was progressing well along the rails and Latest News was right behind the leader and sticking alone. With less than a furlong to go, Ashwa Yudh Vijeta still had a handy lead but Latest News stepped up speed in the final fifty and was fast enough to peg back the favourite and score by a neck on the post. Brave Syera finished another half length behind.  

Twenty to one shot Blazing Speed (Green Coast – Days of Thunder) created a flutter, but was not really a ‘no-hoper’ in the fray. She had a win recently albeit in the lower class and had finished within four lengths of the winner in her last run. Compared to the other ‘fluke’ winners on the day, Blazing Speed had credentials alright.

Carmella led them into the straight but weakened when it mattered. Stepper was out of the zone altogether and was never in contention. Carmella was overtaken by Takisha first but had Blazing Speed on her tail. Blazing Speed, saddled by Sreekant, accelerated well to get past Takisha when Sea Wolf and Tapatio came into the picture, galloping at a fast clip. They had some ground to cover hence had to depend on Blazing Speed to weaken a bit and that never happened. Jockey Ajeeth Kumar rode all out and warded off the challengers to notch up an exciting victory. Sea Wolf and Tapatio finished almost abreast with the former getting the nod right for the runner up berth. Both the challengers made noteworthy progress and are likely to do well in their respective next assignments.  

Trump Girl (Prinson – Premier Perception) obliged a large following while scoring a facile victory in the hands of jockey Koushik. Chasing early leader Arc of History into the straight, Koushik waited with the Sequeira trainee before urging her to get past Arc of History. Once in the lead, Trump Girl proved too fast to match for her rivals and she stretched away from the field to score a comfortable victory. Once More rallied from behind to take the runner-up berth from Proud Warrior. Top Contender too improved to finish fourth.

Mr Baahubali (Stern Opinion – Miss Langkawi) pulled off a sensational start-to-finish victory and what was more startling was that he galloped on powerfully to win untroubled. It looked an open race and was expected to be a closely fought one, however, Mr Baahubali, with jockey Ajeeth Kumar in the saddle, won unchallenged. He looked the winner long way from home. That’s My Class ended up chasing the winner all the way home nearly three lengths behind. Seven Elven ran on to save place money.

Loch Stella (Mount Nelson – Passionate Girl) scored an encore in much the similar fashion taking it until the end. She led them into the straight with Running Fire in chase. NRI Power started to rally well and closing in on Loch Stella. Lightning Fin was close behind but could not quicken. Loch Stella held on stubbornly to win by a short-head yet again for a second close win in a week!

This brings an interesting observation on the suspension slapped on young and upcoming apprentice jockey Rohit Kumar. The lad had done his best astride hot favourite Shivalik Valley, who too had borne the brunt of Loch Stella’s staunch resistance. Rohit Kumar appeared to have given off his best particularly in the homestretch, where he did cover ground and had fought right through the final furlong only to fall shy by a whisker.

The stewards appeared to be harsh on him, penalizing him for ‘not getting to the desired rather instructed position’ early in the race and then for ‘waiting too long’ before making the final run. Shivalik Valley had caught up with Loch Stella and even headed her briefly, but then Loch Stella fought back hard to get the nod right at the wire. With Loch Stella yet again proving to be tough in a fight for the finish, even in the higher class, the suspension seems even harsher on the Lad. He could have been let off with a warning as the punishment of suspension for one month doesn’t commensurate to the slight error in judgment if there was one at all; particularly so as he is young and still in the allowance-claiming phase of his budding career.

If the followers of form hoped for some recovery from the beating they had though the day, they were in for another shock as long-shot Shakesphere (Varenar – Pointillist) in the concluding race of the day.

Shakesphere shot out the gates and darted into the lead and galloped at a brisk rate.  He shot further ahead on turning for home and stole a march. Star Racer moved into second but was taking time to warm up. Green Turf was found wanting to pick up and there was no other threat brewing. Jockey Mukesh Kumar rode out aggressively all through keeping Shakesphere in command. Star Racer picked up speed in the last 100 meters and came up with a scorching run. He got really close but the winning post came to the rescue of Shakesphere who held on by a head. Star Racer was a tad unlucky to see a good effort go down so narrowly. Green Turf ended third another length and half behind.

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