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By Usman Rangila | 14 Aug 2022 | PUNE

Trainer Shazaan Shah leading Joaquin (S Zervan up), winner of The Akkasaheb Maharaj Trophy (Gr.3)

Rarely do race-goers get to see nail-biting finish and when three of the best sprinters in Western India step on to the stage, it produces a high voltage drama on the race-track. The Akkasaheb Maharaj Trophy (Gr.3) witnessed a finish that will not be forgotten in a hurry. Although the main event had eight runners, the finish was it was widely expected to be restricted to only three – Enigma, Iron Age and Joaquin. The punters had very little to choose between the three candidates as was suggested by the betting trend.

Iron Age, the old war horse from Imtiaz Sait’s yard, was in better demand than Enigma and Joaquin. Iron Age with A Sandesh in the saddle hit the front as is his wont and had Joaquin keeping him company whilst Enigma and Leopard Rock close on their heels. They entered the straight in the same order with both Sandesh and S Zervan trying to outsmart each other. Iron Age fought valiantly until Joaquin got stronger and overpowered him. Pradeep Chouhan piloted Enigma got stuck towards the inner rails and got an opening only when Joaquin stepped up the pace. Enigma devoured good ground and flew towards the end but the winning post came to the rescue of Joaquin (Saamidd – Phoenix). A neck separated the Shazaan Shah schooled winner from Enigma. The winner’s owner mate Leopard Rock rallied to dethrone the tiring Iron Age from the third spot. Although Joaquin was declared winner, the drama was not over Chouhan took the fight to the stewards’ room. According to Chouhan, Zervan had come in sharply after the gates opened and bumped and squeezed him due to which he had to check Enigma. Joaquin did come in and leaned on Enigma but it appeared that Chouhan had taken evasive action in anticipation. In this melee, Enigma bumped Endeavour who in turn collided with Ascoval, who was knocked out of contention. After due deliberation, the stewards didn’t concur with Chouhan’s view and overruled his objection. Interestingly, three runners in the field of eight were sporting the colours of Jaydev Mody which brought back the memories of the past era when MAM Ramaswamy’s horses would participate in such numbers. Also, after the crowding incident, Yash Narredu atop Leopard Rock shadowed Enigma and denied Chouhan any room to manoeuvre till Joaquin surged ahead and created an opening for Enigma. Whether the race was run according to somebody’s script or not, the drama involved in it surely kept the punters enthralled throughout.

Young Adhirajsingh Jodha’s move to pitch Arc De Triomphe (Kingda Ka – Aquamarine) in the higher class after finishing second behind Ahead Of My Time earlier paid off as the bay colt trounced his four rivals in the Rajaram Chhatrapati Trophy run over nine furlongs. Nikhil Parmar steered Arc De Triomphe, carrying featherweight on his back, went straight down to business as the starter’s flag came down and was a winner all the way. Successor ended runner up berth after relegating the well-backed Bold Legend. who was in futile chase of the winner from the word go. Kamilah and The Bawaji were simply out it throughout.

In an effort similar to that of Arc De Triomphe, Parmar rode his second winner of the day when he took MK Jadhav trained Fortunate Son (Roderic O’Connor – Only For Gold) on a successful pillar to post mission. Fortunate Son was fit as fiddle after his unsuccessful Bangalore trip which helped him graduate from the maiden ranks by warding off the challenge of fast finishing Fiery Red. Pesi Shroff trained hot favourite Thunberg lost pace after following the winner till the bend and beat just one home, Lord Murphy. Kiefer ran on well to end ahead of It’s My Time.

Cellini (Arazan – Yomalo), entrusted to Trevor Patel after a lung-opener in the hands of an apprentice on the opening day, showed a clean pair of heels to his rivals after bringing them into the home stretch. Bezan Chenoy trained Cellini drew away from his rivals for a comfortable victory. Favourite Superlative was in futile chase throughout though he should be better off with this experience. Kings Best and Red Merlot took the minor places.

Chenoy narrowly missed a double when Aegon went down narrowly to A Prakash ridden and Hosidar Daji nursed Birkin Blower (Midnight Interlude – Al Khazneh). Aegon did all the hard work in matching strides with favourite The Awakening till entering the straight and shaped like a winner before Birkin Blower gathered momentum. Srinath went all out astride Aegon but couldn’t repel the winner’s onslaught. The bay fill Lit failed to get a favourable position in the initial stages but came with raking strides to finish third just ahead of The Awakening who ran below par.

Pesi Shroff had to wait till the end of the day to lead in his winner and that opportunity was provided by maiden Emrys (Admiralty – Peritomoreno). Chouhan settled the winner in close attendance of leader Mystical Rose and faced no resistance when he gave Emrys his head. Emrys won quite easily from favourite Sim Sim and Mystical Rose.

Rookie Mustakim Alam tasted his first career success atop Narendra Lagad trained Majestic Warrior (Leitir Mor – One Magic Moment), who tackled Power of Neath at the bend and held on grimly from Cipher. The runner up lost precious ground when she reared up as the gates flew open. Cipher came with a devastating run in the last furlong but failed to overhaul Majestic Warrior. Divine Hunt ran a fair third.

Beemer (Leitir Mor – Black Magic Woman), owned and trained by Dallas Todywalla earned his corn-bill earlier in the day. A Sandesh ridden Beemer was given a helping hand by Regal Prince whose early pace suited the winner more rather than this stable-mate Power Of Thor, who had a lot of running to do in the straight. Campaign held on to the third slot from Verdandi who warmed up late to her task.