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By Usman Rangila | 24 Sep 2023 | PUNE

Mr & Mrs Vijay B Shirke, Mr K N Dhunjibhoy & trainer P Shroff leading King's Ransom (P S Chouhan up), winner of Parimatch Indian St. Leger (Gr.1)

In a finish that was a befitting climax for a classic event, the Pesi Shroff-nursed filly King’s Ransom gave a feisty show to redeem her honour in the Parimatch-sponsored Indian St. Leger (Gr.1) on Sunday. The close verdict may not reflect the bay filly’s virtuosity but the fact remains that King’s Ransom emerged on top with flying colours in the gruelling test of speed and stamina, the hallmark of a champion equine. This was the fourth group one success for King’s Ransom from fifteen starts, the last twelve of which have been in graded events. Shroff had a momentous day too as he equalled legendary trainer late Rashid Byramji’s tally of saddling 29 Indian Classic winners. King’s Ransom, who has raked in nearly Rs. 3 crore in stake-money, is the prized possession of Mr & Mrs Vijay B. Shirke, Messrs Jay Shirke, Dara Mehta, Khushroo Dhunjibhoy and Zahir Dhunjibhoy. The champion filly was bred at Usha Stud Farms.
Supernatural with Trevor Patel found himself leading the field on sufferance and the pack of four runners headed by King’s Ransom spread out in the mile and three quarter chase. The progress of the race was quite monotonous as Supernatural bowled along merrily in front till entering the home stretch for the final run-in. PS Chouhan had King’s Ransom off the bridle when Supernatural had entered the straight though with a diminishing lead. As the field travelled downhill, Supernatural started closing in on Supernatural and Dyf too coming into contention after getting some strong reminders from Akshay Kumar. With about a furlong and half left for the winning line, King’s Ransom gained the upper hand and her acceleration at that stage proved crucial in the final outcome. Dyf warmed up a bit late and came with a flourishing run in the last 100m. But Chouhan’s packed enough punch in his riding especially in the shadow of the winning post when Dyf’s gallant run almost nailed him in the last stride. King’s Ransom (Multidimensional – China Creek) and Dyf were separated by a nose in the photo-finish. Despite finishing second best, Dyf’s performance was a compliment for his young master Adhirajsingh Jodha who will have taken the distressing outcome in his stride. Dangerous and Supernatural were clearly out of their depth over the extended trip when finishing way behind. Magneto toiled at the tail-end throughout but brought precious stakes of Rs. 1.5 lakh for his connections.
Shroff had a hat-trick of winners having led in the two juveniles – Nirvana and Capitolium earlier in the day. Chouhan got straight down to business astride Nirvana on this occasion and the grey filly won as she liked in her start-to-finish mission. Nirvana’s main rival Decacorn was ridden in check till the bend and was shown daylight by NS Parmar only when the field straightened for home. The bay gelding spurted well thereafter but found the winner beyond reach. Kinzhal was the first to chase Nirvana in the straight but faded out to be third ahead of Impunity, who ran thereabouts.
Having surprised his rivals with his pillar-to-post dash over a nine-furlong journey earlier this season, Capitolium proved that his maiden success was no flash-in-the-pan as he achieved an encore in a handicap event. The chestnut colt entrusted once again in the hands of C. Umesh, raced on the haunches of Aloysia till the final turn and cruised past the leader effortlessly. Capitolium (Moonlight Magic – Attalea), who was conceding weight to an experienced opposition, stretched out well to oblige his supporters. The winner’s barn-mates, Chagall and Alexandros, followed the winner home with Jerusalem ending a good four lengths behind. Chagall moved well in the closing stages of the race and should earn a bracket over this distance ere long. Aloysia ended dead last after her retreat at the bend.
The top-weighted filly Snowfall from Altaf Hussain’s yard defied the stiff penalty of 6kgs to record her fifth career win in the Warsaw Pact Trophy. No-hoper Windermere was brushed up by apprentice AS Peter to hit the front but blew up before taking the final turn where Fortunate Son and Snowfall surged ahead. Fortunate Son took the lead briefly but was overhauled by Akshay-ridden Snowfall (Territories – Markabah). Meanwhile, Dashrath Singh-aboard joint favourite Buckley also made his move, his second as the earlier one was scuttled as Akshay played smarty and kept his adversary confined to the rails. Regardless, Snowfall reflected her superiority by conceding weight to Buckley and Fortunate Son and yet returning triumphant. Swift, again handled by whipless Navnath Bhosale, ran into a wall of horses in the straight before ending fourth ahead of Raffaello.
Hosidar Daji-groomed Metzinger tasted his maiden success in the day’s opening event. Trevor Patel hit the front with Metzinger (Cougar Mountain – Le Femme Fleur) soon as the gates opened and quickened nicely in the home stretch to show a clear pair of heels to his rivals. Well-bred Daianne, ridden by Navnath, improved in the straight to finish runner-up while Precioso pegged back Zip Along and finished in the money. Flying Halo dropped back gradually as the field moved towards the straight and eventually stopped galloping, about a furlong away from the post.
Four-year old Scaramanga (Quasar – Zana), who had a lung-opener over a scurry last month, relished the extended seven-furlong trip and went on to earn his maiden victory. Ridden well off the pace by TS Jodha, Nosher Cama-saddled Scaramanga was asked for an effort in the straight following which he launched his final assault. Meanwhile, Neeraj Rawal-piloted favourite Chenevix Trench assumed command from leader Hilma Klint but failed to sustain when challenged by the quartet – Lord Fenicia, Dali Swirl, Ocean of God and Scaramanga. However, it was Scaramanga who moved the best of them all and romped home ahead of Dali Swirl, Lord Fenicia and Ocean Of God. Galloping Ahead entered the scene late to finish a close fifth ahead of Chenevix Trench.
CS Jodha-steered Sovereign Master, though neglected in the betting ring, unleashed a smooth gallop in the straight to inflict a humiliating defeat on his younger rivals. Fighton tried runaway tactics but couldn’t succeed as the field was hot on heels soon after the start. Red Merlot cut the pace alongside Fighton with favourite Irish Gold and Sovereign Master waiting to pounce on them. Nazzak Chenoy-nurtured Sovereign Master (Strong Suit – Sky High) showed tremendous acceleration when given his head and joined the issue with Red Merlot and Fighton. A couple of cracks from Jodha and Sovereign Master drew clear of his rivals. Irish Gold took the runner-up berth ahead of Jet Typhoon and Exotic Queen. Midsummer Star seemed to be out for an airing and failed to grace the board.