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Suraj Shines Bright and Bonny Light Glows

By Mahendra Mallya | 22 Oct 2010 | PUNE

Suraj (R Rupesh Up), winner of The Pune Racing Journalists Trophy Div-I

Suraj (Major Impact – Zienelle) showed terrific zest at 8, while carrying a top weight of 62 kilos and handing his rivals a decisive defeat. Continuing with the trend of non favourites winning most races, Suraj, who was right up with Sepia Tone, charged ahead early in the straight, and jockey Rupesh got the Altaf hussain gelding to produce enough fire power to ward off a threatening final assault from Tommy Carmichael to win by a narrow margin. At the turn, Suraj was just alongside the fading Sepia Tone, who seems to have lost her forward form, and slipped into the lead without confronting any resistance from the leader.

Once ahead, Suraj kept the momentum going and was well in front of Blades Of Glory, who tried hard to make an impact on Suraj. Past the distance post, Suraj kept going at a fair clip and almost looked home and dry when Tommy Carmichael made swift forward move from the rear to challenge Suraj closer home. However, Suraj was right up to it and his early lead came in handy and did just enough to stay ahead at the ire and clinch the upper division of The Pune Racing Journalists Trophy.

Blades Of Glory and Barbara promised to provide a fight but never measured up to the winner. Tabar’s performance was much better than his last effort and he should improve in Mumbai. Tommy Carmichael was the pick of the lot and the Mumbai straight would be ideal for him if he continues in the same vein. Bonny Light (Placerville – I’M A Nine Plus) scored a perfect ten in the div II of the Pune Racing Journalists Trophy.

Racing close to the action in a tightly packed front bunch, Bonny Light made his move past the distance post. Ran Banka led the field homeward and had Solid Rock, Young Offender, Wings Of Angels, Wells Fargo and Blau Himmel all knitted together. Ran Banka surged away further in the first half of the straight. Bonny Light took his time to get into the acceleration mode and once he did, he easily surged past Ran Banka and posted a fairly comfortable victory. Ran Banka is best followed over five furlongs. Solid Rock is one to remember in Mumbai. Wells Fargo was below par but he ran wide most of the time and did not finish too far back as Wings Of Angels did.

Star Vision was the firm favourite for the Pelican Trophy in spite of meeting three other well-performed youngsters. His paddock looks did not inspire much confidence and he was reportedly eight kilos over his last racing weight. Notwithstanding his gross looks, Star Vision hit the front with Evangilist in close attendance and Venus Rosewater and Ashwa Parwez not too far behind. At the turn, Star Vision was the first to come under pressure, allowing Venus Rosewater to sail into the lead without offering any fight.

Venus Rosewater (Senure – Zealous Cat) quickened well and won with a measure of comfort despite a spirited challenge from Ashwa Parwez in the final furlong. Svelte Lady ran below expectations. Star Vision broke a blood vessel and is best left alone as he needs to go on a crash diet and get back into shape. Cosmopolitan reproduced his Mumbai form where he had dead-heated with Saltoro and left this field struggling in his wake. Cloud Cover, who had a big pull in weights compared to Cosmopolitan, just couldn’t match strides and he seems to be a genuine class III horse.

Misschevious Trot was backed down to favouritism with a lot of money pouring on him at race time. Maybe for sentimental reasons, as it was reported to be Malesh Narredu’s last ride as a professional. He finished a miserable fourth. However, the crowd sportingly cheered Malesh both as he left the paddock and on his return as well. They were vocal in acknowledging the end of a glorious career, Malesh having scored over 1660 winners including about 60 group races. Malesh was a touch emotional and said that he would have loved to sign off on a winning note.

Fairy tale endings rarely happen at the racecourse. But he said he is now looking forward for an equally successful career as a trainer in what he termed his “second innings” in the sport. Agha expectedly went to the front with Cosmopolitan, Cloud Cover and Misschevious Trot following in close order. Once in the straight, Cosmopolitan (Royal Kingdom – Mea Culpa) bounded forward and looked good to retain his lead until the winning post. Cloud Cover could do no more than end second best. If there was an award akin to the ‘Man of the Match’ in cricket, my vote to the ‘Horse of the Day’ would undoubtedly go to Granados.

The Shirke and Dhunjibhoy owned gelding notched up a mind-boggling victory leaving his hapless opponents with absolutely no chance. Taking charge soon on start, Granados travelled comfortably all through with Apache Indian, Sea Shower and Tromos close behind. Snow Queen lost a lot of ground at the start but made rapid progress quickly to join the others soon enough. Granados (Ikhtyar – Glensanda), on turning for home, unleashed a stupendous turn of foot and galloped away from his opponents who were completely out-paced.

He added distance with every stride and was probably on his way back when the judge was recording Apache Indian as the second placed horse. The exaggeration is not unwarranted as Granados provided jockey B Prakash one of his easiest assignments and Prakash did not have to move a muscle! Apache Indian, who chased Granados all through, did well to retain the runner-up berth beating Sea Shower handsomely. Confiseire completed the frame. The Wadhawan camp had a forgettable day with all four of their fancied runners biting the dust. Three of them could only emerge second best.

Star Glory was the first casualty in the very first race. Backed down to even money at race time, Star Glory went down tamely to Emerald Star owned by Mr Mohan Thakur and trained by Imtiaz Sait. Emerald Star (Steinback – Wave Of Bliss) led as soon as they jumped out of the gates and had Star Glory in chase. Telstar raced alongside the favourite and the trio was almost together as they turned for home. Culcrieff broke a blood vessel and couldn’t raise a gallop. Once in the straight, Emerald Star accelerated well and quickly stretched away from Star Glory who was struggling to keep up. In the final furlong, Emerald Star was in no danger as the rest were making little progress. Emerald Star won with a lot to spare. Star Glory just about managed to stay second ahead of Big Old Man and Blue Mellon.

Highland Warrior, who shared the prime betting trends with Wild Torronaado, also went down tamely. Phosphor was the one to show a lot of early speed and she led the pack with Highland Warrior alongside. Wild Torronaado came next with Hammerhead tracking her. Silver Soul and the rest were not too far behind. In the straight, Phosphor kept going at a fair clip. Highland Warrior was under pressure. Wild Torronaado was cramped for room and jockey Sandesh seemed undecided whether to go for the gap in the rails, or between the two in front. They dilly-dallied for far too long and that proved costly. Hammerhead (Diffident – Private Collection), meanwhile, had a clear straight ahead and he produced a sustained gallop in the final furlong to nose the wire just ahead of Phosphor and Wild Torronaado.

Silver Soul was badly hemmed in and received a bad check at a crucial juncture in the straight, close to the inner rails with about a furlong to go. He still managed to deny Highland Warrior a place in the frame. Star Builder was their third runner to fail as he was shocked by Admirals Quest who pulled off a smart start-to-finish victory. Admirals Quest (Placerville – Menorah) made quick progress to lead the field past the 1200-metre marker and kept a safe distance ahead of Star Builder and Tyumen all the way. Turning for home, Admirals Quest increased his lead further and soon Star Builder realised he had an uphill task ahead. Jockey Tograllu rode like a man on a mission and never let his guard down at any stage and saw the Karthik charge all the way through. Star Builder caught one better in Admirals Quest and will live to fight another day.

Tyumen just managed to have his nose in front and earned his place money the hard way. Dancing Dame was the one who almost got him on the post for the third place. Dancing Dame warmed up far too late and by the time she was gathering momentum, it was all over. If the Wadhawan camp thought that Moonlight Beauty would provide some solace in the last race, that didn’t happen. Sharing the market status with Celtic Manor, the two prime contenders fought out the final furlong which Celtic Manor (Razeen – Ladybank) won narrowly.

Celtic Manor was right in front with Moonlight Beauty just behind, and Dancing Money on the outside. As they entered the straight, Celtic Manor had a slender lead and had horses lurking on either side. Dancing Money was threatening her from the outside and Moonlight Beauty slipped in from the rails. The trio then pulled away from the rest and were headed for a thrilling finish. With less than 100 to go, Dancing Money blinked. Moonlight Beauty looked determined and matched stride to stride with Celtic Manor. The Champion-jockey-in-waiting, Dashrath Singh put all his energy to good use to make his final bid a decisive one. Celtic Manor got that little extra out in time to win by 3/4 of a length.

Inner Harmony did well to end in the frame and Arabian Empire was the best of the beaten lot. Midnight Club (Royal Gladiator – Temple Bay) did not show any sign of a lay-off and trainer Ms Nina Lalvani had done well with the mare to get her absolutely fit to strike it rich in the mare’s reappearance on the race track after a long gap of 19 months. Midnight Club had shown a glimpse of her fitness in a mock race that she won last week. Wasting little time in going for the lead, Midnight Club dictated her own terms and had Ijlal for company until the turn. Once in the straight, jockey Zervan hustled her into the lead and Midnight Club did not put a foot wrong.

She kept building on the lead and had left her companion Ijlal to fight for the minor placing. Midnight Club looked fresh and won convincingly and is worth watching in her first appearance in Mumbai. Ijlal duly ended second ahead of Musical Rhythm who improved a notch or two to finish in the money. Golden Orra, despite a tardy start, finished on well to end in the frame clearly implying that she would relish longer distance. For the professionals, trainers Imtiaz SAit and Faisal Abbas scored a double each as did jockeys B Prakash and S Zervan.