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By Usman Rangila | 16 Oct 2022 | PUNE

Mr & Mrs Vijay B Shirke, Mr K N Dhunjibhoy & trainer P Shroff leading King's Ransom (P S Chouhan Up), winner of Betway Pune Derby (Gr.1)

Trainer Pesi Shroff took up from where he had left off a day earlier when winning the Suresh Mahindra Trophy and went on to dominate the Derby day by saddling three winners including King’s Ransom, who won the Betway Pune Derby (Gr.1). All the three winners from Shroff’s yard, who successfully carried the public’s purse to victory, were piloted by jockey Pradeep Chouhan.

Though running after a break of three months following her summering at Bangalore, King’s Ransom (Multidimensional – China Creek) was tuned to the moment by her master. As the eight-horse field took off for the star event of the Pune monsoon season, Fortunate Son took up the running with Emperor Roderic fighting for his head just behind. King’s Ransom was ridden off the pace by Chouhan and graced the rear in the company of Dangerous and Dyf. CS Jodha brought Dangerous with a steady run to join the bunch behind Emperor Roderic at the halfway mark. As the field negotiated the final turn, Adhirajsingh Jodha’s ward Dangerous came breathing down at Fortunate Son’s neck while Chouhan slipped through the rails and waiting to launch his final assault.

With two furlongs left for the destination, Dangerous assumed command as Fortunate Son relinquished the lead whilst Chouhan switched lanes and put King’s Ransom in top gear. The bay filly quickened well to engage Dangerous and both went stride for stride before King’s Ransom asserted her superiority in the last 50m and won sparing half-length at the wire. The grey Dyf, also trained by Adhirajsingh, got into his stride in the straight but could only finish third ahead of Fortunate Son who held on grimly to the fourth slot from Wall Street.

The five-year old filly Enigma, who had gone down by a neck in controversial circumstances last time out, had her class on display when winning the Noshir & Dolly Dhunjibhoy Sprint Million (Gr.3). Last outing winner Iron Age with Antony Raj in saddle hit the front with Leopard Rock and Market King in hot pursuit. Chouhan had Enigma (Phoenix Tower – Maisha) in close attendance alongside Market King and waiting to pounce on the leaders. Yash Narredu driven Leopard King swooped down on Iron Age at the 200m marker and surged into the lead. And no sooner had Leopard Rock done that, Enigma gathered momentum too and threw her gauntlet at her main adversary. Despite Yash’s desperate efforts, Leopard Rock couldn’t contain Enigma, who sashayed down the last 100m to record her sixth career win, which could be her last before she retires to stud as a broodmare. Fast Rain ended a faraway third ahead of Market King while Iron Age cut a sorry figure when finishing almost last.

The three-year old juvenile Claudius (Roderic O’Connor – Messalina) treated his nine rivals with disdain when shedding the maiden ranks in the Jimmy Umrigar Trophy. Making his first appearance this season, Phenom grabbed the lead from Champagne Smile shortly after the start and brought the field into the home stretch. The piping-hot favourite Claudius moved up steadily to range alongside Phenom and burst into the lead when Chouhan gave him a single crack as a reminder. The winner was sighted a furlong away from home as Chouhan drove Claudius and increased the lead with every stride. Phenom ended runner up ahead of Kimiko who ran on to edge out Prinia from the third place. The rest of the runners were just out for an airing.

Altaf Hussain trained filly My Princess justified her favouritism in the company of some uninterested rivals. Ridden by Akshay Kumar, My Princess (Tamayuz – Qawaafy) lay handy in the mid bunch as no hoper Spirit Bay did the front running and blew up at the bend. Toussaint and Mighty Thunder fought it out thereafter while Akshay brought My Princess into contention. The filly was conceding weight to both of them and was had to be driven all out before she could overpower them and lift the second division of the Pune City Police Commissioner’s Trophy. The winner’s owner-mate Outlander ran gingerly to finish second ahead of Mighty Thunder and Toussaint who completed the judge’s board. Second favourite Lady Di ran listlessly for no apparent reason and ended in the ruck. Periwinkle however caught the eye when finishing a close fifth and should do well in her own age group.

The first division of the Police Commissioner’s Trophy was won by the sparingly raced Agostino Carracci (Western Aristocrat – Portia) who was confidently ridden by Trevor Patel. Joint favourite Divine Thoughts led the field with Narakamicie and Northern Singer in close tow. Trevor brought Hosidar Daji groomed Agostino Carracci, who was raring to go before the final turn itself, into the reckoning as the field straightened for home. After taking a couple of backhanders, Agostino Carracci collared Divine Thoughts and overwhelmed his rival to record his maiden success. Divine Thoughts was done in by the handicap but not disgraced in this defeat. Earlier, Alpine Star came through the inner rails and was tracking Divine Thoughts when the winner came into the picture. Alpine Star ran third ahead of Northern Singer. Narakamicie faded out after being prominent till the bend.

Sanjay Kolse trained Esfir (Surfrider – Agility) proved too good for her rivals in the day’s opening event. Racing in the mid-bunch till the heads turned for home, jockey Bhawani Singh ridden Esfir made gradual progress to join the fancied duo Zacapa and Toofan. Zacapa wrest the initiative in the final furlong and led briefly before Esfir’s last burst put paid to his hopes. There was nothing to write home about the rest of the field except that Mariella could be in the news sooner rather than later.

Bhawani completed a double through Hela (Multidimensional – Fond Fantasy) who is trained by Karthik Ganapathy. Power Of Neath with rookie Praveen Shinde in the seat made a start to finish bid which was scuttled by Hela after being driven powerfully by Bhawani. Ante post favourite Turmeric Tower ran thereabouts without looking threatening and ended a tame fourth behind late finishing Demetrius. Jet Typhoon, who attracted a lot of smart money, failed to deliver. Amyn Merchant aboard Jet Typhoon was not ready for the start when the gates opened and the fancied runner couldn’t recover after losing precious ground.

In the concluding event of the week, Neeraj Rawal’s strong riding enabled Rue St Honore to make amends for her last outing failure. Altamash Ahmed nurtured Rue St Honore (Ampere – Silk Road) tracked leader Indian Crown from the start and challenged her opposite the stands. Indian Crown held on stubbornly as Antony went all out but Rue St Honore, after overcoming a minor interference from the runner up, quelled her resistance with a resolute run. Anoushka ran in the money ahead of Mysterious Girl who missed the kick but made good ground towards the end.