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By Mahendra Mallya | 21 Feb 2021 | HYDERABAD

Sovet Pride (Air Support – Sovetskaya), trained by RH Sequeira, put in a strong finish and did well to catch up and pin Havelock Cruise down closer home to score her third win this season. It was also her first essay over the mile and she timed her run to perfection in the hands of jockey Akshay Kumar.

Havelock Cruise got straight down to business leading the field from the start. He entered the straight with a slender lead with Pontius Pilate stalking him. Sovet Pride moved up from the mid bunch and was produced on the wider outside. Havelock Cruise seemed to have it covered as he had a handy lead coming into the final furlong. However, Sovet Pride started to accelerate well and picked up momentum in the last 100 meters. Jockey Akshay Kumar rode out aggressively and blazed away in the final few strides to snatch victory on the post. Havelock Cruise had it going for him all through, until the last stride. Pontius Pilate was a tad unfortunate to have been sandwiched between the two rivals and had he not have had to be checked at that crucial juncture, he could have finished right alongside the top two.

Forever Splendour (Leitir Mor – Forever Glory) had it ridiculously easy and dominated his rivals right through the race. He let Incredulous lead the field, sitting right alongside all the while until the turn. Once into the straight, jockey Suraj Narredu smoothly nursed the Laxman Singh ward into the lead, still travelling hard-held. Just a couple of nudges past the 300m mark and Forever Splendour stormed further ahead to amass a sizable lead, providing Suraj the luxury of easing his mount up again in the final 100 meters. Forever Splendour notched up her third win. She had back to back wins earlier in the season on her November debut following that up with another one four weeks later. Her Legacy ran on to take the runner-up berth just ahead of NRI Elegance.

Falcon Edge (Gusto – Dovers Hill) made a dramatic dash in the final furlong to floor New Look and The Prospect who had a leeway of over three lengths at that juncture. Jockey Akshay Kumar had to ensure that having to give weight all round, he had to have enough reserve in hand at the business end. A couple of cracks got Falcon Edge going and the colt shifted gears instantly to produce a scintillating burst of speed to storm past The Prospect and then New Look to power his way ahead and nail it by ¾ lengths. The Sequeira trained colt recorded his third straight victory in as many starts. New Look was looking good until the final few strides, hence he could make amends the next time out.

Trainer Sateesh saddled a fine treble rolling off with two quick wins in the day’s first two races. His ward Akido (Outstrip – Gift Wrap) tore away from the pack soon on turning for home to notch up his maiden win in style. He was in the front bunch at the turn with Indian Glory and Keystone in front. Keystone took it up in the straight and before he could harbour any victory thoughts, jockey BR Kumar rode Akido out aggressively and the colt responded brilliantly in a trice. Within a matter of strides, Akido had drawn away and looked the winner the moment he started accelerating.  Akido won easing up with a healthy margin of three lengths plus. Keystone was overwhelmed but recovered well enough to secure the runner-up slot well ahead of Winning Streak.

Sateesh then led-in Sporting Smile (Net Whizz – Darayka) and apprentice jockey Abhay Singh rode well to carve out a narrow win with fancied runners fighting all around him. City of Blossom led them into the straight and was galloping away. Sporting Smile had to make an effort to get to the leader and was working hard to fight his way ahead. Wah Ms Zara sipped in along the rails with threatening strides and was getting too close for comfort. NRI Vision was also making his run from the outside and with about 100 to go, it looked a close call. Abhay kept his focus and rode out tactfully to hold on from Wah Ms Zara to win by half a length. NRI Vision pegged back City of Blossom to finish in the money.

Sateesh reaped his third success for the day with Melting Ice (Knight’s Tour – Confiding) in the penultimate race of the day. Jockey BR Kumar rode a clinical race easing Melting Ice to lead the field after the first furlong. She entered the straight with a handy lead with those close behind not seeming a threat. Committed Warrior and Queen Daenerys had too much ground to cover and to add to their woes, melting Ice was showing no signs of slowing down. They were in futile chase as Melting Ice romped home a clear winner by a good margin of three lengths. Committed Warrior finished better to finish second ahead of Queen Daenerys.

Deshmukh trained Bugsy (Ampere – Be Quick) scored a pleasing victory on debut in the hands of jockey Trevor. Kingston piled up a huge lead early in the race and he was about 7lengths ahead taking the turn. Bugsy took time to settle down and was a bit shifty initially, but Trevor managed to get him to focus soon enough. Kingston still had a sizable lead approaching the distance post with Lifes Song closing in rapidly. Bugsy made his move and arrived with a scorching gallop and within split seconds established his dominance and sailed away from them all. Bugsy won by two lengths from Lifes Song, while Able Love ended third more than seven lengths behind Lifes Song.

Blue Cruise (Green Coast – Kiana) achieved his maiden success with a fine effort in the homestretch. Kintsugi had just taken charge from early leader Ice Berry when jockey Suraj Narredu alerted Blue Cruise to the task. Blue Cruise galloped on gamely and zipped past Kintsugi with ease and then drew away to post a facile victory. Sun Dancer improved in the straight to finish a good second. That’s My Star rallied well to beat Kintsugi for the third spot.

For the professionals, trainer Sateesh saddled a treble, while trainer Sequeira, jockeys Suraj Narredu, Akshay Kumar and BR Kumar scored a double each.