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By Mahendra Mallya | 28 Nov 2021 | PUNE

Trainer P Shroff leading in Zuccarelli (P S Chouhan Up), winner of The Pune Derby (Gr.1)

The Pune Season 2021 saw a grand finale with some spectacular performances on the turf. Zuccarelli (Western Aristocrat – Circle Of Bliss, Nanoli Stud) lived up to the promise he had shown while winning his lead-up race with an eye-catching run. The race, with the quality line-up, did appear to be a closely fought one, however, Zuccarelli produced a record-breaking run at the business end and pulled away to make it a no-contest midway down the straight.

Souza darted into the lead at a good clip and was well ahead past the halfway mark with Multiencrypted fairly ahead of the rest as well. Zuccarelli started to close in past the 800 and A Star is Born was stalking Zuccarelli at that point. Souza weakened at the turn as did Multiencrypted and Zuccarelli cruised past them to lead them into the straight, with A Star is Born right on his tail.

Jockey PS Chouhan unleashed Zuccarelli soon after and the dark bay gelding quickened in a trice to shake off A Star is Born. The Pesi Shroff trainee showed great temperament with speed to match and pulled away from A Star is Born, galloping at a cracking pace to win in an emphatic fashion, eclipsing Quasar’s timing of 2:03:04 by clocking 2:02:28 displaying a heady blend of speed and stamina.

A Star is Born showed character and for a first appearance on the difficult Pune track, he did well to beat Quasar’s record, stopping the clock at 2:02:71 while returning a gallant second. Regal command too will improve considerably having finished well ahead of the rest of the promising rivals.

Iron Age (Strong Suit – Intrigue, Manjri Stud) has made the western India circuit his forte sprinting to his 14th victory from 21 starts. This one was conquered as easily as it can get. Iron Age shot into the lead with jockey Sandesh holding him on tight reins all through. St Andrews raced close behind with Excellent Gold and Gazino making it a closely huddled bunch until the turn.

Iron Age then accelerated steadily and was stretching out fluently without needing any assistance from Sandesh. The Imtiaz Sait trained gelding, powered his way ahead to win easing up, yet clocking his personal best so far at 1:07:99 which was the quickest for the season, while winning the Noshir & Dolly Dhunjibhoy Sprint (Gr3). St Andrews finished just over two lengths behind Iron Age.

Hosidar Daji trained Petronia (Kingda Ka – Smoke Ring, Nanoli Stud) fresh from her victory in the SA Poonawalla Million, produced another superlative effort to bag the FD Wadia Trophy (Gr3), her second group race this month.

Favourite Presidential was tardily off the gates and that could have cost him dearly as he was at the tail end for most of the seven furlong journey. Dragoness was worse off as she veered in on the jump and dislodged the rider who landed on his feet.

Baby Bazooka darted to the front and kept a good momentum going well until into the straight. Petronia started to chase down Baby Bazooka in the final furlong and although Baby Bazooka fought hard to stay ahead, Petronia, with CS Jodha in the saddle wore her down with a determined effort, finally getting past Baby Bazooka in the last 50 meters or so. Petronia won by a length from baby Bazooka, while Presidential ended a fair third.

Narendra Lagad trained Red Merlot (Surfrider – Mateus Rose, Ruia Stud) created a minor flutter while winning, beating a couple of strongly fancied rivals to win the Conrad Pune Cup. Dashrath Singh had Red Merlot in second behind Pokerface until the turn. Into the straight, Red Merlot assumed command and accelerated fluently to establish a decisive lead within the first furlong of the homestretch. From there on he was cruising away and out of reach of the rest. Enlightened and Tigrio were in a futile chase, while Tigrio could only manage to peg back Enlightened for the runner up berth. Fast Rain ended in the frame without raising any hope, while Exotique had too much to do in the straight and ended one-off.

An interesting duel sprouted between Giant Star and Arcadia (Kingda Ka – Shane, Chester Stud) with the latter zooming in closer home to wrap it up with a good burst at the finish. Giant Star looked in charge as they entered the homestretch while Arcadia was being pushed to gather momentum. These two were well ahead of the rest and going into the final furlong they fought all through with Arcadia going past Giant Star in the last few strides. Jockey PS Chouhan had to work hard to put it across Giant Star and clinch a third victory for the Shroff trainee.

Trainer AM Jadhav’s Excelerator (Excellent Art – Queen’s Guest, Poonawalla Stud) scored an encore in much the same fashion she did last time out. Excelerator was in the mid-bunch until the turn and made steady progress thereafter. Dilbar had a slender lead over Sovereign Master, the latter moving up past the leader soon on straightening for home. Sovereign Master was still grappling with Dilbar when Excelerator, with Sandesh up, began to quicken and make a dash for the lead. There was no stopping Excelerator once he got going and he sailed past the fighting duo with ease to register yet another convincing victory over Sovereign master. Dilbar ended a close third.

Malesh Narredu trained Mystical Rose (Speaking of Which – Supreme Princess, Usha Stud) scored her maiden victory in the hands of jockey Yash Narredu on her second career start. She settled in second behind Lord Byron until into the straight and soon surged past to take charge. Once in the lead, Mystical Rose picked up speed and stayed well ahead of Commandment and Aira to win by a length and quarter. Commandment and Aira finished well ahead of tote favourite Arabian Phoenix.

The day began with Bold Advance (Arazan – Yesteryear, Villoo's Greenfield Farm) scoring a runaway victory - her second after her maiden win in February last year. Hellbent looked in tearaway hurry as he darted to the front and though he was well ahead turning for home, he had little left in the tank to capitalize on the handy lead. Bold Advance moved up from the third spot to tackle Hellbent soon on turning for home. The rest were far behind and with Dashrath Singh well in control, Bold Advance looked home and dry well before the winning post. The Narendra Lagad ward won sparing seven lengths to the late rallying Jubilant Journey. Principessa managed to pip Mascara for the place stakes, both finishing on fast but a tad too late.

Dallas Todywalla trained Love Warrior (David Livingstone – Magic Vision, Hazara Stud) got one better after his last start second to achieve her maiden success on her sixth start. Jockey Sandesh had Love Warrior in handy second position behind Timeless Deeds until into the straight. Once in for the final run, Love Warrior tackled Timeless Deeds easily and surged ahead soon after to dash for home. Love Warrior was away within strides and won well, sparing close to four lengths to Midas Touch who made a late dash to finish second. Indian Crown too finished purposefully beating the early leader for the third spot.

Pure (Excellent Art – Equine Lover, Villoo’s Greenfield Farm) ended the season on a winning note, his maiden success on his third start. Picking up from the third spot, Pure launched an all-out attack on Windy City to go into the lead approaching the distance post. Once in the lead, Sandesh rode out well to stay ahead all the way and besides winning it for Pure, Sandesh also landed the season’s Championship with the victory, matching the tally of 15 amassed by PS Chouhan. The higher number of seconds for Sandesh, landed him the title. Monarchy finished on with a good late burst to beat Windy City for the runner up slot.

For the professionals, Sandesh was the stand out with four winners, while trainers Pesi Shroff, Narendra Lagad and AM Jadhav saddled a double each. Jockeys PS Chouhan and Dashrath Singh scored a double each as well.