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By Usman Rangila | 21 Aug 2022 | PUNE

Mr & Mrs Vijay B Shirke and trainer P Shroff leading Wordsmith (P S Chouhan Up), winner of The F D Wadia Trophy (Gr.3)

The Pune race-track has gained notoriety for being a graveyard of favourite horses. But Sunday’s racing edition proved to be an exception. There were no nasty surprises for punters as seven winners in the card of eight events were first favourites and the only favourite to bite dust was Snowfall.

The Altaf Hussain trained Snowfall was installed as the on-money favourite in the small field of four vying for honours in the FD Wadia Trophy (Gr.3) on the strength of her excellent preparatory work. Trevor Patel found himself in front as the speedy Lady Cadet fought for her head in the first two of the seven furlong trip but her rider G Santosh refused to oblige. Wordsmith (Fiero – Sea Bubble) ran fourth but was in close contention with his rivals. Pradeep Chouhan pressed the accelerator round the bend to range alongside Snowfall. As Lady Cadet and the other runner Liam failed to make headway, the stage was set for Snowfall and Wordsmith to battle it out. The battle lasted only for a few strides as Wordsmith forced Snowfall into submission and sailed away for his maiden win. Liam and Lady Cadet completed the judges’ frame.

The Shroff and Chouhan combination tasted success early in the day with Northern Lights and Lord And Master, both giving no anxious moments to their supporters. Northern Lights (Lethal Force – Prescription) defied the stiff penalty incurred for his AC Ardeshir Cup victory and tackled a lacklustre opposition in the Mariinsky Trophy to register his fourth successive win. Chouhan had the grey beautifully settled behind the customary front-runner Victorious Sermon and Caprisca the field was turning for home where he alerted the favourite to his task. Northern Lights faced no real opposition from the two leaders as he skipped away to an effortless win. Victorious Sermon held on to the second place as Truly Epic moved ahead to take the third slot from Caprisca.   

Lord And Master (Multidimensional – Haedi) who had advertised his fitness with his late and eye-catching run behind winner Dali Swirl in the lower class a fortnight earlier, made mockery of his six rivals in the Waves Of Glory Plate Div-II. Soup And Sandwich shot into the lead as the gates opened while the favourite settled behind in the initial stages. Chouhan didn’t take wait too set Lord And Master in action. The bay gelding made steady progress with every stride to join Soup And Sandwich and Majestic Warrior in no time. The 10 to 7 on favourite zipped into the lead and left his rivals standing. Soup And Sandwich and Majestic Warrior, who were both inconvenienced by the winner’s lugging in, managed to remain in the money ahead of Flaming Fire and Lady Santana.

Trevor Patel also had a popular treble during the day. He partnered Adhirajsingh Jodha schooled Dyf (Cougar Mountain – Soak) to a smashing debut victory in the Mayor’s Trophy run over nine furlongs. Trevor let Arrow Point do the initial running till she ran out of fuel just before the final bend. The grey colt strode out majestically in front and was eased up well before passing the winning post. Dianne, Jerusalem and Gimme followed him home. Venus, one of fancied runners, raced in the mid bunch but seemed to be in distress half way through the journey and dropped back alarmingly to finish last.

After Snowfall’s failure, Trevor steered Altaf Hussain’s ward Mozelle (Roderic O’Connor – Equine Lover) to an emphatic win in the Sea Ruler Plate. The bay filly had stripped fitter after a lung-opener two weeks back and with strong rider in the saddle over the shorter trip worked to her advantage as she simply trounced her opponents. Mozelle went smoothly into the lead as the gates opened and, though conceding weight to her rivals, she proved far too superior for them. Magnanimous ran on late to finish runner-up ahead of Goldiva, who pipped Mojo for the third spot.

Pesi Shroff’s decision to try and use the left eye-shield on Distinction didn’t work as the bay filly gave Chouhan a torrid time as the field entered the home stretch. The filly tried to run outwards and despite Chouhan’s desperate bid, she couldn’t raise a fluent gallop and fell back to finish seventh.

Nazzak Chenoy nurtured Commandment (Speaking Of Which – Adelita) also ran true to form and gave Trevor his third winner of the day. Commandment tracked Vikramaditya and joint favourite Tristar till the bend and tackled them both after warming up to his task. Trevor kept him going under pressure which helped Commandment earn his maiden win. Runner up Finch was seen finishing well in the straight but may have needed this run. Remy Red was a faraway third ahead of Vikramaditya. Tristar seemed happy to let Commandment hog the limelight and may have saved her best for some other day, probably in her own age group.

Jockey A Sandesh’s solitary win was provided by well-fancied Raffaello (Excellent Art – Stravella) in the upper division of the Waves Of Glory Plate. The Dallas Todywalla trained Raffaello was powered by Sandesh to tackle early leaders Desert Fire and Dali Swirl at the top of the home stretch and the bay colt stretched out to earn his third career success. Runner up Baby Bazooka did well to finish second despite the inept handling of K Nazil. Desert Fire and Dali Swirl completed the frame ahead of several disinterested contestants.

Sheraz Sunderji trained Great Guns (Phoenix Tower – Allied Cause) made his first appearance on the Pune track a winning one in a poor set including a couple of disinterested rivals. Ridden by R Ajinkya, Great Guns followed leaders Mysterious Girl and Sinner into the straight and had an easy passage to victory. It seemed Trevor was blowing hot and cold astride Sinner when Great Guns came alongside and the second favourite ended second ahead of Sandman and Fairmont.