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By Usman Rangila | 26 Aug 2023 | PUNE

Trainer Imtiaz A Sait leading Flaming Lamborgini (C S Jodha up), winner of The Western India Race Horse Owners Association Trophy

Veteran Imtiaz Sait schooled six-year old rig Flaming Lamborgini (Planetaire – Ruby Royal) produced a valiant effort when encouraged by jockey CS Jodha and overshadowed his younger rivals in the Western India Race Horse Owners Association Trophy on Saturday. Coeur De Lion went on a start to finish mission as usual and had Giant Star for company in the initial stages of the mile event. Favourite Great Guns and Flaming Lamborgini were settled nicely behind the front-running duo. Giant Star lost pace as the heads turned for home where Jodha quickly brought Flaming Lamborgini into the reckoning and so did Vivek G. aboard Great Guns. Mustakim Alam ridden Coeur De Lion, Great Guns and Flaming Lamborgini entered the home stretch together and fought stride for stride for the next two furlongs. In a nail-biting climax, Flaming Lamborgini’s final surge put paid to the hopes of Great Guns and Coeur De Lion in a blanket finish. A long-neck and head separated them at the wire. Forever ran a bit green in the straight before finishing fourth. Rambler ended fifth and bears watching when he is exploited in the lower class.

None of the other first favourites obliged the punters in a small card of six with Sea The Sun, Armoury and Goddes (sic) of Dawn ending up as expensive failures. Sea The Sun, who was the overwhelming favourite to claim the day’s curtain raiser, was knocked out of contention shortly after the field of four embarked on the mile and half trip for the Amorous Knight Plate. Zarak probably clipped Sea The Sun’s left hind heel and the resultant injury rendered him lame. The bay colt from Pesi Shroff’s yard stopped galloping thereafter and it was Zarak who shot into the lead and held on till joined by Kiefer and Gangster at the bend. Soon after entering the home stretch, Gangster was held up towards the inner rails after being denied a clear run by Kiefer, who shifted in under pressure. With a furlong left for home, TS Jodha astride Gangster swiftly switched lanes when an opening was created as Kiefer started to weaken and brought his mount on the outer flank. Behram Cama saddled Gangster (Quasar – Rosie Sunshine) responded well to Jodha’s call and put in a strong run to overhaul Zarak close home.

Young Deepesh Narredu groomed Armoury, who had a lung-opener when finishing a close fourth in her previous run, was expected to improve and score in a field of twelve which consisted of seven debutant juveniles. Armoury however flattered to deceive as she went surging into lead when the field set off for the five-furlong scurry only to surrender meekly to the 25 to 1 longshot Sovereign Grey from Altaf Hussain’s stables. Interestingly, Altaf did not fancy the chances of the Sovereign Grey. He gave the ride to lesser-known jockey HM Akshay and instead pinned his hopes on Art Collection by entrusting her in Akshay Kumar’s hands. But the big-made grey filly by Leitir Mor out of Grey Allure, weighing about 537kgs, ran far better than her master’s assessment and bulldozed the opposition including her barn-mate Art Collection, who finished runner up. Scorcese warmed up late to finish third ahead of Armoury.

HM Akshay astride Malet Spring almost upset the calculations of trainer Adhirajsingh Jodha in the upper division of the Indian Association of Equine Practitioners Trophy where Sovereign Grey’s owner and stablemate Goddes of Dawn was the piping hot favourite. Adhirajsingh assigned Shrikant Kamble the task of guiding the fortunes of Into The Storm and engaged both Akshay and apprentice MS Deora respectively atop his two least fancied candidates, Malet Spring and Zarafat. Wanderlust showed good initial speed to grab the initiative with Akshay Kumar piloted Goddes of Dawn racing alongside. Into The Storm was in close attendance along with Neilina while Malet Spring raced 4-5 lengths away. Goddes of Dawn challenged but K. Nazil-partnered Wanderlust was in no mood to surrender. With Goddes of Dawn bowing out of the fray, Into The Storm challenged Wanderlust and while they were disputing the issue, Malet Spring came a strong run but cut an erratic course and made contact with the latter. Into The Storm (Whatsthescript – Laurita) was driven out by an unfazed Shrikant and found the winning post coming to his rescue as he secured a neck verdict by warding off his stablemate’s threat. A long-neck separated the two with Wanderlust ending a close third ahead of Goddes of Dawn.

The seven-year old mare Cipher (Excellent Art – Mooring) was placed to win by Faisal Abbas and the filly justified the faith imposed in her ability by her master as she carved out a narrow victory over Trevor Patel ridden Commandment. Intense Belief led all the way from the gates till being divested of her lead by Commandment, who took the shortest route towards home. Apprentice AK Karande-ridden Cipher, who raced in the mid bunch, came with a brilliant run down the straight and was ridden hands and heels to collar Commandment a few strides away from the post. Walshy ran third ahead of Jetfire. Ocean of God and Monarchy, who caused a lot of wagered money to go down the drain, finished close on the heels of Jetfire but both were outpaced throughout the race.

The enduring belief in his ward’s talent and the patience shown by Asad Siddique bore fruits when Whatsinaname pulled off a remarkable victory in the last race of the day. After a none-too-impressive campaign at Mahalaxmi, Whatsinaname was well tuned for this outing and she did not disappoint her connections. Ridden well off the pace as Lord Fenicia call the early shots, NS Parmar made steady progress with Whatsinaname and brought her into contention as soon as Pyrrhus took charge from the leader. Pyrrhus led briefly but was overpowered soon by Whatsinaname, who registered a convincing win. Tyrone Black had to be content with the third spot after failing to quicken in the straight. Galway Bay completed the judge’s frame. Joint-favourite Attained ran disappointingly and finished in the rut.