- india's first & foremost horse racing portal


By Usman Rangila | 21 Jul 2023 | PUNE

Trainer Narendra Lagad leading Golden Neil (Mustakim Alam up), winner of The Gamble For Love Trophy

Tuned to the moment by Narendra Lagad, the four-year old Golden Neil was pitted against a seasoned lot in the Gamble for Love Trophy, the feature event on the inaugural day of the Pune season 2023. But the chestnut gelding brooked no opposition and capitalised on the handicap advantage with a pillar to post victory in the hands of Mustakim Alam. Golden Neil (Excellent Art – Mauna Kea) was full of zest as seen during the Mumbai season and the young apprentice got an armchair ride once he catapulted the chestnut gelding to the pole position. Golden Neil then made every post of the seven furlong journey a winning one much to the frustration of his nearest rivals Successor and Count of Savoy. None of his opponents were able to pose a threat to the favourite and they found him beyond their reach as soon as the heads turned for home. In Contention took the second slot after Successor and Count of Savoy faded out. 

While Golden Neil ran true his form, her barn-mate Zip Along showed exceptional improvement in her form which only a Lagad trainee is capable of. Call it a successful weight-reducing mission or a drastic reversal in form, Zip Along (Strong Suit – Zipping) galloped resolutely in the home stretch to nail Prince O’ War close home. The latter flattered briefly after taking charge from Nairobi who showed the way to the field in the early stages of the race. The winner’s stablemate, Prince Igor, showed some intent before falling back abruptly. Divine Soul ran on late to finish in the money ahead of Prince Igor. Favourite Anoushka ran thereabouts and failed to make an impact. The other runners including Lady Di were simply out for an airing.

The General was the shortest priced runner of the day and Karthik Ganapathy’s ward did oblige but lost the race in the stewards’ room after failing to keep a straight course whilst tackling leader Democracy opposite the stands. Bhawani Singh was unsuccessful in correcting his mount’s inward drift whereby he squeezed out PS Chouhan ridden Democracy, who had to be pulled up in the process. The General won by a length and half over Athenian who ended second after Democracy slowed down with Vijaya finishing fourth. Chouhan lodged an objection against Bhawani and the cobbled up quorum of stewards’ decided to upheld it resulting in Adhirajsingh Jodha saddled and apprentice MS Deora piloted Athenian (Fiero – Athens) being promoted as winner. Democracy moved into the runner up slot as The General was relegated to the third spot.

Adhirajsingh went on to complete a treble after Hall of Grace (Planetaire – Peritomoreno) and Time and Tide (Dali – Starlet) won back-to-back later in the day. Hall of Grace was piloted by PS Kaviraj, who got a chance ride in replacing CS Jodha in the saddle, showed plenty of speed to grab the lead in the field of eleven maidens and showed a clean pair of heels to her rivals. Favourite Enabler was outpaced throughout and only managed to finish a faraway second with a late flourish in the straight. Debutant Multiverse, the winner’s stablemate, ended an easy third with a hint that he would be better off with this experience, preferably over a longer trip. Endurance ran fourth and should benefit from this outing.

Adhirajsingh entrusted Time and Tide to 5kg-claimer Gagandeep Mann and the resultant weight advantage favoured his candidate. Mann settled Time and Tide behind Irish Gold, Divine Thoughts and Fiery Red who were disputing the lead and brought him with a powerful run to storm ahead after pegging back stablemate Fiery Red. The dark bay colt kicked on gamely to repel Snow Fall, whose fast finishing effort was in vain. Snow Fall found it difficult to concede 9kg to the winner. S Saqlain aboard Irish Gold had his left leg out of the stirrups at the start and couldn’t give the required assistance to his mount for a couple of furlongs till he could regain it. Rambler ran riderless after K Nazil suffered a fall soon after jumpout following a collision with the winner who had swerved slightly towards his right.

Navnath Bhosale was another 5kg-claimer to have tasted success during the day. The rookie guided Pesi Shroff-schooled filly Generosity who shot into the lead as soon as the starter’s flag came down and was a winner all the way over the five-furlong scurry. Inishmore snatched the runner up berth from Pyrrhus close home whilst Queens Pride completed the judge’s frame.

Sheraz Sunderji nurtured three-year old filly Ameerah also succeeded in a handicap event to remain unbeaten in her two career starts. Neeraj Rawal had Ameerah (Roderic O’Connor – My Lakshmi) in a striking position behind Charming Star and Attained till the turn and then asserted her superiority in the last furlong. Attained had brushed aside Charming Star to gain the lead at the bend but was unable to thwart Ameerah’s onslaught. Attained ended second ahead of Goldiva whose late effort denied favourite Smiling Fortune the third place.

Brave Beauty from Hosidar Daji’s yard produced a strong run in the straight to foil runner up Supreme Spirit’s start to finish bid in the closing stages of the seven furlong event. Many race-goers believed that the trip would be a tad sharp for Brave Beauty (Territories – Bravia) but the mare flourished when K Nazil produced her on the outer flank and galloped resolutely to earn a bracket. My Princess ended third ahead of Flashing Famous, Favourite Kariena ran off the board but never raised any hopes after suffering a troubled passage in the straight.

Favourite Superimpose tasted his maiden success in the concluding race but not before giving a scare to his supporters when he veered out alarmingly in the straight. Champagne Smile who was being hailed as a winner close home was beaten in virtually the last stride by Superimpose (Roderic O’Connor – Sorrento Steel). SK Sunderji groomed Superimpose came with raking strides after Dashrath Singh managed to get his mount to race on an even keel and drove him vigorously to nose out Champagne Smile at the wire. Adamas and Gimme followed them home.