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By Usman Rangila | 09 Oct 2022 | PUNE

Trainer S S Attaollahi leading Forest Flame (A Sandesh Up), winner of The Threptin Fillies' & Mares' Stakes (Gr.3)

It’s not that race-goers have not witnessed the failures of the horses they fancy to win but Sunday’s racing was such that punters aren't likely to forget its outcome in a hurry. Besides other losers, the narrow defeat of Juliette was a big disappointment for race-goers not because of their losing bets, it was the champion mare's first defeat on this track which they couldn't reconcile with. There were no hard luck stories though as it was a peach of a ride given by A Sandesh which played a crucial role in Forest Flame's triumph over Juliette in the Threptin Fillies’ & Mares’ Stakes.

With only three horses being flagged off by the starter for the nine furlong event and no horse likely to go to the front, Sandesh took a smart decision of hitting the front and setting his own pace. The champion jockey, who was ironically banned for his controversial ride on Juliette in the Indian Turf Invitation Cup run at Mahalaxmi in December last, controlled the tempo of the race astutely which probably sent CS Jodha’s pre-race strategy for a toss. Juliette had to skirt Kamilah when she made her move at the bend to challenge Forest Flame.

Sandesh held his nerves in the battle that ensued and kept Forest Flame (Leitir Mor – Memory Bay) on course by removing his whip only the in final furlong. Jodha, meanwhile seemed to have panicked as he failed to use his whip to good effect. Just when Juliette responded Jodha stopped whipping and then used it again when Forest Flame had almost hit the wire. Be that as it may, Suleiman Attaollahi deserves credit for bringing Forest Flame back to winning form following her dismal show when she couldn’t tackle the heavy going on a slushy racetrack. Juliette was certainly not disgraced in this defeat and lives to fight for another day.

Displaying his superb judgement of pace astride In Contention (Leitir Mor – Remembrance Of You), earlier, Sandesh successfully steered the SK Sunderji nursed mare

in the Yana Plate. He settled In Contention behind leader Teresita whilst Grand Accord, Alicia and Multistarrer following him. Teresita ran out of fuel as the heads turned for home where In Contention cruised past the filly. PS Chouhan coon sent Alicia went in pursuit but the favourite found her efforts going in vain as she threw in her towel 100m from home. In Contention was then driven out by Sandesh for a comfortable win over Multistarrer, who ran on to take the runner up berth. Alicia, Teresita and Grand Accord ended in that order behind.

With a brace of winners under his belt, Sandesh was later seen in action atop even-money favourite In My Time and Cognosco. Both horses put up a doleful show but Sandesh was not to blame for their misery.

Dallas Todywalla trained In My Time raised some hopes as she moved up to be in the frontline while owner-mate Mount Sinai receded after bringing the field into the straight. Antony Raj unleashed Leto with a flourishing run on the outer lane to take over the running even as In My Time showed no spark and dropped back gradually to be out of the reckoning. Zarak (Royal Gladiator – Miss Rising) accelerated well under Neeraj Rawal's urgings before joining Leto, who was unable to repel the former’s onslaught and succumbed just 50m from the winning post. Murwara Princess made steady progress after lying at the tail end till three furlongs from home and took a bump from In My Time before she could make her presence felt. Apprentice S Saqlain ridden Murwara Princess flew towards the end but the winning post came to the rescue of S Waheed saddled Zarak, who won by a head. Leto finished half length behind. In hindsight, had Antony not shown haste in making his bid before the climb uphill started, the result might have been different. Chat ran thereabouts to complete the judges’ board.

Saqlain tasted success when Faisal Abbas groomed mare Cipher (Excellent Art – Mooring) tackled the seven furlong trip to the surprise of many. Cipher was settled behind leader Blazing Bay, Twelfth Earl and Cognosco till the entering the home stretch where Saqlain sent the mare surging into the lead. Twelfth Earl and Campaign pursued her but Cipher kicked clear of her rivals. Cognosco began losing pace in the straight and ended dead last. Anoushka, the winner’s stable-mate, saved her best for some other day when finishing fourth ahead of Sandman, who was probably done in by the handicap.

A change in name and running tactics saw Narendra Lagad's ward Alpine Star (previously named Mont Blanc) start the day on an ominous note for the punters. Pyrrhus showed early speed and took charge of the running with on-money favourite Hawk Of The Wind, who had finished a notable second to Gold Kite earlier, and Alpine Star in close attendance. Malesh Narredu trained Hawk Of The Wind failed to accelerate as Pyrrhus stretched out while second favourite Sensibility too found the going tough as she made her bid towards the inner rails. Apprentice Mustakim Alam resolutely drove Alpine Star with plain hands and heels and wore down Pyrrhus just a few metres from the wire. Marine Girl looked menacing opposite the stands but couldn’t really get up to tackle her opponents. She finished third ahead of Hawk Of The Wind and Sensibility.

The Awakening, also from Narredu’s yard, failed to live up to the promise shown in his last outing when finishing a close second behind Pepper over a sprint last month. Hosidar Daji trained Arabian Phoenix (Tenth Star – Zahour Al Yasmeen), who was knocking at the doors of success, provided jockey K Nazil with his first success this season when producing a resolute gallop in the straight to pip Desert King on the post. Rookie Mustakim eased Desert King into the lead when the gates opened and had Dali Swirl gnawing at his heels till the bend. Desert King frustrated his rivals as he refused to shorten his strides in the home stretch but found Arabian Phoenix playing spoilsport in the end. The Awakening, Dali Swirl and Lit all struggled to accelerate and ended thus.   

Nazak Chenoy trained colt Liam was ridden confidently by Praveen Shinde (Planetaire – Swan Maiden) as he fought a fierce duel with leader Divine Thoughts before gaining the upper hand in the straight. It’s learnt that the saddle on Divine Thoughts had slipped putting apprentice Saqlain at a disadvantage. Favourite Tyrone Black lost precious ground at the gates as Divine Thoughts jumped inwards on to him but he ran on well to finish a close second. Outlander made a late entry on the scene to end a noteworthy fourth.

Favourite Tristar (Surfrider – Outtostealthescene) hailing from Nosher Cama’s yard scored an overdue victory in the day’s last race, which allowed apprentice Praveen Shinde to complete a well-earned double. Tristar made it pillar to post despite the late bid of Ame and Tasman. Sonisha retired to finish fourth after running prominently behind the winner.