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By Usman Rangila | 11 Sep 2022 | PUNE

Mr S R Sanas, Mr Sarosh Mody & trainer Imtiaz A Sait leading Iron Age (Antony Raj S Up), winner of The Yohan Z Poonawalla Turf Club Trophy (Gr.3)

Horseracing can be very intriguing at times and when it does, the form of horses goes topsy-turvy which is reflected in the performance ability of a given horse or the lack of it. Imtiaz Sait trained old war horse Iron Age, who had as many as 15 wins from 27 career starts, was neglected punters in the  Yohan Poonawalla sponsored Turf Club House Trophy (Gr.3), a terms race run over seven furlongs. But the speedy seven-year old son of Strong Suit out of Intrigue conquered his seven rivals with his start to finish blitz.

Given his back-to-back victories this season, Shazaan Shah schooled Joaquin possessed better winning credentials than the other contestants including the second-in-demand outstation challenger Ashwa Bravo who had come down from Hyderabad for this foray. But, as the final outcome of the event proved, the followers of form were in for a huge shock. Iron Age who had never won a race beyond six furlongs surprised everyone with his broadened prowess while Joaquin ran dead last and sent loads of money bet on him down the drain. Joaquin had an alibi for his poor performance; it’s reported that he had suffered what is known as Exercise Induced Pulmonary Haemorrhage (Grade II) or simply put, bled during the race.

Iron Age, as usual, stormed into the lead as the starter’s flag came down and had the two fancied runners Joaquin and Ashwa Bravo in hot pursuit. As the heads turned for home, most race-goers anticipated Joaquin and Ashwa Bravo to throw a challenge at Iron Age. What happened was exactly opposite to the public’s expectations. Both Joaquin and Ashwa Bravo were going nowhere except falling behind when Iron Age brought them all into the home stretch. It was then left to Joaquin’s owner-mate Leopard Rock to enter the fray. But Iron Age was not in a mood to give up. The temperament shown by young Anthony Raj astride Iron Age was remarkable to say the least. He just gave a couple of gentle taps to Iron Age on his neck to keep him in business and the bay gelding responded gallantly to his rider’s call by stretching out to build a lead which proved to be a cushion in the end. All of Yash Narredu’s hard work atop Leopard Rock was in vain as Anthony confidently steered Iron Age passed the post sparing three parts of a length to his rival. The abject surrender of both Joaquin and Ashwa Bravo brought Sunrise Ruby and Fast Rain in the limelight. Fast Rain incurred an unnecessary penalty of 14.5kg for beating a tired lot – Endeavour, Ashwa Bravo, Sultan Suleiman and Joaquin.

Another fancied duo which failed to live up to the expectations of the punters was Alicia and Petronia in the Turf Authorities Of India Trophy. The bay mare Successor (Leitir Mor – Sweeping Success), who was experimented over longer distances after winning a seven furlongs race last year, finally came good over a mile trip. The Dallas Todywalla trainee found herself in front and she brooked no opposition from her rivals when recording her third career success. A Sandesh judged the pace to a nicety and was never under any threat of being caught once Successor was off the bridle in the straight. It took just a couple of backhanders from Sandesh to get the mare to draw away from hard-ridden Count Of Savoy and Alicia, who couldn’t catch Successor. Multistarrer ran on to wrest the fourth place from In Contention. K Nazil didn’t give Petronia her head as she fought for it when chasing Successor in the early part of the race and then faded out to finish in the ruck.

Just a race earlier, Sandesh had piloted Raffaello (Excellent Art – Stravella), also hailing from Todywalla’s yard, to victory in the first division of the P Hadow Trophy. Desert Fire and Majestic Warrior, the two longshots from Narendra Lagad’s stables, headed the field with the 5 to 4 favourite Pure in close contention. Desert Fire kicked on gamely in the home stretch even as Pure was seen struggling to warm up to his task while other runners hardly made any significant progress. Meanwhile, Raffaello was held up towards the rails for want of a clear run and Sandesh could make his move only when the field had turned for home. He soon found an opening and Sandesh swiftly manoeuvred his way with Raffaello who made rapid progress to go sweeping past the pack ahead. In a trice Raffaello pounced upon Desert Fire a few metres away from home and went on to register an encore. Majestic Warrior stayed put in the third place and had the late finishing Arabian Phoenix close behind. Alastair ran thereabouts and failed to make headway in the straight while Pure was well beaten when the race came to a boil. Superlative was the experienced lot too hot to handle but will be better off with this experience.

Thunberg and Souza, two maidens from Pesi Shroff’s yard, finally found their mark. C Umesh astride Thunberg (Roderic O’Connor – Ice Glacier) didn’t cut pace with Hawk Of The Wind in the initial stages of the race and allowed to latter to head the field. With a little over a furlong left for the destination, Umesh alerted Thunberg and the filly went surging past the leader for an emphatic win. Lady Di rallied well after entering the straight to finish second. Moon Belle drifted out under pressure but finished third ahead of Hawk Of The Wind.

The well-bred Souza (Shalaa – Kaiservurde), who found himself racing in the lowest class and was entrusted to rookie Mustakim Alam, proved too good for his rivals in the concluding event of the day. There was a heavy downpour as the race started and Souza was smartly off from the gates but was briefly passed by Sussing, Multiencrypted and Hela. Souza regained the lead soon and simply trounced his opposition. Anoushka, Hela and Multiencrypted graced the judges’ board though finishing far behind the winner.

Debutant Wild Thing (Sanus Per Aquam – Miss Highjinks) was tuned to the moment by AM Jadhav and the bay colt scored a smashing victory in the hands of Nikhil Parmar. After racing closely behind the leaders, Parmar quickly brought Wild Thing alongside favourite Montgomery as they field took the final turn for home. Wild Thing brushed aside Montgomery and sailed away for an easy win over the latter. Mojo finished on to be third ahead of Perfect Win.

Narendra Lagad trained Son Of A Gun (Top Class – Indian Serenade) made ample amends for his failure on the season’s opening day as jockey CS Jodha steered him to a pillar to post win in the lower division of the P Hadow Trophy. The bay colt dictated the terms all through the journey and won convincingly despite loafing briefly in the straight. Dali Swirl and Buckley were in futile chase of the winner throughout and finished thus ahead of hard-ridden Excelerator.

Faisal Abbas saddled Sim Sim (Kingda Ka – Aristeia) improved on his last two runs and unleashed a powerful run in the straight to score an overdue win over a shorter trip. Favourite Coeur De Lion failed to oblige as J Chinoy hard a time when trying to overtake leader Power Of Neath. Sim Sim meanwhile was driven out by TS Jodha and lasted out to win from the fast finishing Magileto. Agostino Carracci warmed up late to his task and ended fourth ahead of Narakamicie and Power Of Neath who were close behind.

Imtiaz Sait schooled Campaign (Smuggler’s Cove – Exemplary) registered an upset victory after trying his luck in the lower class last time out. Ridden well off the pace by Vishal Bunde, Campaign gathered momentum in the straight and came through the shortest way home to catch up with leaders Twelfth Earl and Marlboro Man. Bunde eased Campaign between the two horses ahead and kicked on to win from Marlboro Man, The Flutist and Twelfth Earl.