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By Usman Rangila | 30 Sep 2023 | PUNE

Mr Jiyaji Bhosale and trainer Narendra Lagad leading Coeur De Lion (Mustakim Alam up), winner of The Times Of India Trophy

The four-year old Coeur De Lion gave a lion-hearted performance to snuff out Chopin’s winning bid as he found his way to the winner's enclosure on Saturday. Coeur De Lion had drawn a blank in all his five starts since his last victory during the Mumbai season last January though he came close to earning a bracket in his previous outing. The bay colt from Narendra Lagad's yard had everything going his way right from the distance, handicap and the mediocre opposition barring Chopin in the mile-long Times of India Trophy. Apprentice Mustakim Alam hit the front with Coeur De Lion (Roderic O'Connor – Sweeping Success) as is his wont and seemed to be in sight of pillar-to-post victory when Chopin came motoring alongside at the bend. For a moment, Neeraj Rawal-ridden Chopin gave an impression that he would dismiss Coeur De Lion’s hard work and go cruising clear. Chopin did lead by a nose for a fleeting second but neither Mustakim nor the colt were in a mood to accept defeat. In a gallant response to his rider’s call, Coeur De Lion fought back by digging into his reserves to regain the advantage and surged ahead to put an end to Chopin’s heroics. The runner-up, done in by the adverse weight difference, surely lives to fight for another day. In Contention and Pride's Angel, who were always in pursuit of the two favourites, completed the judge's frame.

A similar effort helped the Adhirajsingh Jodha-mentored Time and Tide demolish a seasoned lot in the Trophy. Time and Tide with apprentice MS Deora in saddle, showed plenty of early speed to seize the initiative as the field was flagged for the six-furlong event and established what turned out to be an unassailable lead. Favourite Emperor Roderic and Gazino tried to intimidate Time and Tide (Dali – Starlet) with a late spurt in the final furlong, but the dark bay three-year old colt was home and dry till then. Cellini went in early chase of the winner but failed to quicken and ended fourth ahead of Irish Gold, who too made no impression.

Adhirajsingh narrowly failed to achieve a back-to-back double after Kanya Rashi went down by long-neck to Goddes of Dawn in the Hindu Trophy. Altaf Hussain-schooled Goddes of Dawn, who was an expensive failure in her previous essay, got off to flying start from the blocks and the early advantage she gained held the filly in good stead when YS Srinath-piloted Kanya Rashi unleashed a powerful run down the straight. The relentless pressure applied by Neeraj Rawal astride Goddes of Dawn (Win Legend – Flying Show) helped the neglected filly to triumph over Kanya Rashi, who started devouring ground in the last furlong. Kanya Rashi lacked initial speed and then failed to get a clear run as she was favourably placed behind Littorio till entering the straight which enabled Goddes of Dawn to steal the limelight. Collateral, who finished half a length behind the runner-up, also looked menacing close home but the winning post had already come to the winner's rescue. Debutant Christophany ran an impressive fourth ahead of second-in-command Littorio, who was running after a long layoff and raced prominently behind the leader, was in need of this run.

Attained, hailing from Nazzak Chenoy's string, finally tasted his maiden success in a start-to-finish. Attained (Roderic O'Connor – Forgotten Dreams) hit the front from the gates but let Bellagio show the way to the field till the heads turned for home. Attained then flourished to wrest the lead and the strong guidance of Trevor Patel allowed him to ward off the late bid of Adamas. Jetfire ran thereabouts to be third ahead of Northern Singer, who was racing abreast of the winner till the last furlong.

Imtiaz Sait-trained Supreme Spirit, whose last appearance was wasted as she was very fractious at the gates, ran true to the promise shown at the start of the season when she was toppled nearer home by Brave Beauty. Though outpaced in the early stages of the six furlong sprint and racing at the wrong end of the field till entering the home stretch, Supreme Spirit (Dali – Eternal Spirit) came with blazing when alerted by C. Umesh and swooped down on the unfancied duo, Zukor and Divine Intuition on the post. The last named led all the way shortly after the gates opened and had Galway Bay and Zukor in close attendance till entering the home stretch. Amyn Merchant-ridden Zukor had just managed to overwhelm Divine Intuition when Supreme Spirit stunned them both. She's A Teaser covered lot of ground as she warmed up late to finish a close fourth. Well-fancied Nelson River was lethargic at the start and ended off the board, about three lengths off the winner.

Malesh Narredu-nurtured Amber Knight also entered the winner's enclosure for the first time with a stylish win albeit in the lowest class. Amber Knight, after being inconvenienced by the tardy jump taken by Lion King, raced in the rear till approaching the final turn. S. Saqlain-steered Amber Knight (Multidimensional – Ambrosia), however, moved with rapid strides to close the gap on Lion King in the straight. The latter tried runaway tactics over the mile and quarter trip for Free Press Journal Trophy but succumbed meekly to the onslaught of Amber Knight, who won by a wide margin of over seven lengths. Spiritual Rock and Mastery, who ran below par, followed them home.

Lagad achieved a double when Mighty Thunder, whose rider was reported to the stewards for his riding effort when finishing second to stable-mate C’est L’amour on Independence Day, had his galloping shoes on and finished with a rattle to taste his maiden success.  Gimme was taken to the front by NS Parmar on this occasion and MK Jadhav’s ward seemed to relish that front-running role. However, the late burst of CS Jodha-ridden Mighty Thunder (Ampere – To The Manor Born) put paid to the hopes of Gimme, whose start-to-finish bid failed close home in the Race Mirror Trophy. put paid to his hopes. A long neck separated the two at the wire. High Spirit seemed content in allowing her barn-mate to hog the limelight as she finished an easy third ahead of Bomber, who once again refused to put his best foot forward.