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By Usman Rangila | 03 Sep 2022 | PUNE

Mr A S Narielwala leading Zuccarelli (P Trevor Up), winner of The Idar Gold Trophy (Gr.3)

The fact that the sport of horseracing can be enchanting in its own peculiar way was showcased once again at the Pune racecourse on Saturday when Fortunate Son and Zuccarelli vanquished their rivals.

Pesi Shroff nursed Zuccarelli (Western Aristocrat – Circle Of Bliss), who had run a distant third behind Theon and A Star Is Born in the Maharaja’s Gold Cup a few weeks ago at Bangalore, underwent a minor surgery, ‘tie forward’ to be precise, to treat his soft pallet on his return to Pune. Running for the first time after this surgery, punters were apprehensive of whether Zuccarelli was fit enough to tackle his opponents, mainly A Star Is Born. Thus the latter ended up as the favourite ahead of Zuccarelli. The inability of A Star Is Born to stay the gruelling trip, which he had run only once and got beat by Zuccarelli in the Indian Derby, saw a fair majority of punters getting bullish about Arc De Triomphe’s winning chances in this Group 3 event.

Zuccarelli, however, shrugged off the questions raised about his fitness and simply cantered home without being extended at any stage of the race. Trevor Patel had Zuccarelli settled behind the leaders Arc De Triomphe, Caprisca and A Star Is Born, who raced in a single file till the final bend. He showed daylight to the dark bay gelding when the heads turned for home following which Zuccarelli strode out majestically forward and was still on tight reigns as he zoomed past Arc De Triomphe. Zuccarelli traversed the last furlong of the trip in solitary splendour to claim his sixth title from twelve starts. Arc De Triomphe ended up being runner up while A Star Is Born saved some blushes by managing to latch on to the third place by a whisker from Truly Epic.

Trainer Altamash Ahmed’s fine tuning and Trevor’s strong handling did the trick for Time (Ampere – Passing Hour) in the day’s curtain raiser, which was reserved for four-year old runners. Being a maiden, Time was placed at the bottom of the handicap and the bay filly capitalised on it as she wore down favourite Sim Sim in the shadow of the winning post. On entering the home stretch, Sim Sim stole a march over her rivals after overtaking front-runner Fidato but soon had Time breathing heavily down her neck. Time, who was ridden off the pace in the initial stages of the race, engaged Sim Sim in a ding-dong battle in the last furlong. It was Trevor’s strong handling in contrast to apprentice MS Deora’s efforts which eventually tipped the scales in the winner’s favour. My Treasure made her bid after coming through the shortest way home but couldn’t tackle the duo ahead. Eye On The Prize ran a fair fourth. Contrary to his christening, success eluded Fortunate Son in all his seven career starts, the last three of which came during the Bangalore summer season. Revisiting the tactics deployed thus far and some astute thinking by Mansingh Jadhav after Fortunate Son’s failed trip to Bangalore resulted in a couple of equipment changes. A tongue-strap was added and the use of blinkers, which he had been sporting since his debut in December last year, was discontinued.

The veteran trainer’s decision paid off handsomely and the fortunes of the bay son of Roderic O’Connor out of Only For Gold changed for good as he graduated from the maiden ranks with a start to finish win over seven furlongs.

Carrying a nominal penalty of a kilo for his maiden win as he was already rated 38 then by the handicapper, Fortunate Son was pitted for the first time against seasoned campaigners over an extended trip of a mile and quarter. Nikhil Parmar once again decided to set his own pace with Fortunate Son and may have been surprised himself as were the punters when the 12 to 1 long shot relished his front-running role. Fortunate Son made every post of the Spearhead Plate a winning one and left his rivals chasing his shadow till the end. Favourite Dyf found the going tough and had to bite dust though he rallied in the closing stages after Leto threw in her towel. The much desired improvement from Souza, the winner’s owner-mate, didn’t materialise as he finished a tame fourth. Beyond Measure started to fall back gradually after being in hot pursuit of the winner till the final bend and ended a poor second last.

It’s My Time (Roderic O’Connor – Unforgettable You), who had finished fourth to Fortunate Son on debut, improved on that performance and tasted his maiden success in the September Handicap. Suraj Narredu had the Dallas Todywalla trainee in the mid bunch as Mont Blanc showed the way to the field with Golden Kingdom, Kiefer and Karyna in close attendance. It’s My Time moved up smoothly to join the issue with Golden Kingdom and Karyna at the bend. The latter assumed command but It’s My Time measured her with a powerful finish towards the inner rails and surged ahead for a comfortable win. Brave Beauty finished on late to be in the money ahead of Golden Kingdom, who failed to shoulder the top weight and so did Liam. Dyf and Golden Kingdom, both hailing from Adhirajsingh Jodha’ s yard were unable to shoulder the burden on their backs but they definitely live to fight for another, probably in the upper class.

Towards the end of the day’s proceedings, the two 5kg-claimers Haridas Gore and Mustakim Alam accomplished start to finish victories astride Sanjay Kolse groomed Pepper (Surfrider – To The Manor Born) and Hilma Klint (Excellent Art – Praise Of Folly) respectively.

Running on promotion, Pepper showed a clean pair of heels to his rivals including The Awakening, Lit and Spring Grove. Haridas kept his head down and as he pushed Pepper hands and heels to ward off the spirited challenge posed by The Awakening in the final stages of the six furlong sprint. A neck separated the two at the winning line. Lit warmed up late to her task and ended a game third ahead of Spring Grove. Baby Bazooka finished a close fifth.

Hilma Klint was running in the lowest class and the speedy filly made it pillar to post but not before finding an amenable adversary in stable-mate Turmeric Tower. Both Hilad and Divine Soul failed to match strides with Hilma Klint and it was left to Turmeric Tower to throw a challenge at the winner. Thankfully C Umesh changed course and put Turmeric Tower behind Hilma Klint thus avoiding any heartburn for the winner’s followers and the potential embarrassment for the trainer. Divine Soul ended third ahead of Ahren, who was the best of the beaten lot. Tarzan, Zukor and Nord, who finished close behind also bear watching.

Faisal Abbas trained Murwara Princess (Tenth Star – Radical Attraction) caused a major upset in the Spark Of Gold Plate, run over a mile, though not unexpectedly. TS Jodha brought the filly with a sustained run down the straight to overpower leader Toussaint and Alpha Gene and went on to register a comfortable win over the latter. Charming Star, Zacapa and Hela followed them home. There was nothing special in favourite So So Special’s run as she performed like a dud. Nevertheless, keep an eye on Hela, who is slowly but surely inching towards the mark where she can strike.