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By Usman Rangila | 15 Oct 2022 | PUNE

Mr S M Ruia leading The Bawaji (Neeraj Rawal Up), winner of The Suresh Mahindra Trophy

With the withdrawal of pre-race favourite Pissarro from the four-horse field in the fray for the Suresh Mahindra Trophy, the longest race run in the country, one thought that the event will be reduced to a farce. But come race time, and all the three horses left in the race had almost equal support in the betting ring. The flood of money however came the way of The Bawaji, the lowest rated horse in the race. It was not the current form of the runners that influenced the wagering, the question that played on every punters’ mind was which of three horses would stay the gruelling trip. Most of them threw their lot behind The Bawaji because the age was on his side. The punters’ prediction turn out to be true. Pesi Shroff trained The Bawaji (Dawn Approach – Caught On Camera) justified the faith imposed in his staying ability by the punters. 

Jockey A Sandesh took Caprisca to the front with Neeraj Rawal ridden The Bawaji and Truly Epic with Antony Raj in the saddle following him. The order of running remained unaltered almost all the way. Neeraj didn’t want to be outsmarted by the pace set by Sandesh astride Caprisca and remained on guard as he had The Bawaji within striking distance of his rival. Caprisca brought his two rivals into the home stretch and it appeared that Sandesh would pull it off. But Neeraj spurred The Bawaji who took some time before warming up to his task and stretched out well to snap Caprsica’s runaway bid less than 50m from the winning line. Although he didn’t have luck on his side astride Caprisca, Sandesh earned a treble through a display of his superb riding skills earlier in the day.

Sandesh stormed into the lead with Superlative (Roderic O’Connor – She Is Special), who was second in demand only to Magileto, as the field of eight jumped out from the gates and was a winner at every post of the six furlong journey. Magileto was clearly upstaged by the early pace and failed to catch the Sheraz Sunderji schooled winner. Sandesh gave Superlative a couple of backhanders in the last furlong to keep Magileto at bay by three parts of a length. Smithsonian ran on to be third with San Salvatore finishing a faraway fourth.

The second winner piloted by Sandesh was lesser fancied Pride’s Angel (Multidimensional – Tammy O) who hails from veteran Imtiaz Sait's yards. Pride’s Angel entered the straight last while leader Son Of A Gun was still in command when the field straightened for home. The favourite ran out of fuel about a furlong from home following which Suraj Narredu and Antony Raj fought a fierce battle for supremacy aboard Count Of Savoy and Raffaello respectively. Meanwhile Sandesh took the shortest route home and, despite a minor hiccup when almost clipping the heels of Teresita, he manoeuvred his way to range alongside Raffaello. Just when Antony ridden Raffaello had overpowered Count Of Savoy, Pride’s Angel swooped down on him and was powerfully ridden by Sandesh to steal a short-head victory. Count Of Savoy ended third ahead of Teresita. In an effort to capitalise on the handicap advantage and make the rivals chase him, Son Of A Gun's connections adopted the catch-me-you-can strategy which ended disastrously. The rest of the runners were never in it with a chance. Petronia and Kinnara both ran below par.

Sandesh later outwitted his opponents with a successful runaway bid atop Faisal Abbas groomed Mojo (Planetaire – Melena) in the Pride Group Multi-Million. Mojo came from the wide draw to grab the lead shortly after the starter’s flag came down and Sandesh adroitly guided the chestnut filly to her maiden win. Favourite Queens Pride veered out under pressure when asked for an effort by Trevor Patel and then ran green when her rider tried to get her to race on an even keel. It was far too late before Queens Pride got into her stride and Mojo prevailed by a nose in the end. Golden Lioness was outpaced throughout though she did finish in the money ahead of House Of Lords. 

Trevor however obliged his admirers when partnering favourite Angels Trumpet to a fluent victory in the day’s curtain raiser. Ridden off the pace in the early stages of the mile and quarter race as Multiencrypted went sailing into the lead and opened up a wide gap halfway through the trip. Trevor made his move towards the inner rails and challenged Multiencrypted, who was done with his front running business in the last furlong. Subhag Singh trained Angels Trumpet (Planetaire – Mink Glove) soon took charge and eventually won easing up. Verdandi ran on to be runner up whilst Multiencrypted and Brazos filled the judges’ frame.

Apprentice Kirtish Bhagat’s confident riding helped the Hosidar Daji nurtured filly Bazooka Babe clam the lower division of the Luxury Groomers Trophy. The speedy duo Soup And Sandwich and Rodrigo called the early shots as Bazooka Babe was settled behind till the turn. Kirtish gradually brought the favourite into contention and joined the issue with Soup And Sandwich and Rodrigo in the last furlong. Bazooka Babe strode out well and surged clear in the last 100m for a convincing victory over Soup And Sandwich. Rodrigo just managed to hold on to the third spot from Remus.

The long shot Love Warrior (David Livingstone – Magic Vision) won the NK Pudumjee Cup against the run of expectations in a three-way finish. Lex Luthor made all the running from the start and refused to cave in when PS Chouhan ridden Thunberg overtook Sierra Dela Plata and Milli, who started to fall back, at the bend. Thunberg had the upper hand briefly but Lex Luthor snatched the lead back after a renewed battle. Meanwhile Love Warrior, who chased Thunberg into the straight, was set into motion by apprentice S Saqlain and he came with a sizzling run to pip both Lex Luthor and Thunberg in the shadow of the winning post. Pure ended a close fourth. Last outing winner and favourite Vincent Van Gogh failed to quicken when asked for an effort in the straight by Sandesh and ended fifth ahead of Mad Love who too failed to make any impression in the race.