Diamond Hunter Confirms His Superiority
The FK Irani Memorial Gold Cup was the feature event in a long card of nine races held on Thursday at Mysore. This sprint for horses in the highest class attracted a fairly representative field of 11 participants. Most prominent amongst them were Kingdom Of Heaven, In the Zone, Falling in Love and the top-weighted Diamond Hunter. The first three had won their previous starts in the current season, and were reappearing with winning penalties. The official ratings published prior to the commencement of the season had listed Diamond Hunter at a rating of 110, while the other three were almost 40 points below him. The fact that the three of them had progressed from their marks with emphatic victories, saw the four of them accepting to run against each other. Diamond Hunter was allocated the back-breaking weight of 65 kilos, which was partially reduced with the declaration of apprentice Ashok Kumar in the saddle. His regular partner Appu had decided to ride the low-weighted In The Zone. Racegoers decided to support In The Zone strongly and sent this Arjun Mangalorkar ward as a firm favourite to the starting gates. Diamond Hunter was next in demand, while the odds against the Prakash-ridden Kingdom Of Heaven were expanding with each passing moment. Enchanting Girl set a solid pace and led from In The Zone, Dinesa, Kingdom Of Heaven and Snap Dragon, while the others were seen being niggled to stay in touch with the front-runners. The supporters of Diamond Hunter were disheartened by the fact that this normally speedy horse was racing last-but-one, as the runners began to take the rising ground and turn for home. Enchanting Girl maintained her slender lead ahead of a hard ridden In The Zone, while Kingdom Of Heaven was making a strong bid under the guidance of jockey Prakash. Apprentice Ashok Kumar produced Diamond Hunter on the wide outside and began to gain ground with each stride. Polar Wolf was also moving up through the middle. The race was set for a thrilling finish. The front-runners were tiring and the ones coming from behind were getting stronger. Diamond Hunter confirmed his superiority by going past the pack and emerging victorious. Polar Wolf took the second spot, marginally ahead of In The Zone and Kingdom Of Heaven. This performance of Diamond Hunter was truly special, considering the fact that the apprentice boy had given him "too much to do" in the straight. The leading professional duo of Prakash and Robert Foley continued their good work by jointly winning three races during the afternoon. All three victories were achieved with a measure of comfort, and confirmed the fact that the horses from this stable are generally better than their competitition. They started with Perfect Promise who swept past the front-running Alinski and ran away from him. Little Splendour was a tame third in this race. The next success came with Associator, who was the easiest winner of the day. Prakash waited with him till the bend, allowing Mint Royal to lead on sufferance, and popped him a question thereafter. The response was immediate as Associator lengthened his strides and clocked-in many lengths ahead of a late-finishing Super Woman and Regal Music. The treble was completed with Our Charmer. Although the odds against this runner expanded alarmingly, his supporters were delighted to see him leading from the very beginning. Prakash drove him under the stick and was able to hold a challenge from the bottom-weighted Rock Breaker and Royal Hero. The fact that Robert Foley has already saddled 27 winners, shows his complete domination of the current Mysore season. A recent import from Western India, Nectar Jewel, was another strongly supported horse to win from end-to-end. The presence of an apprentice in the saddle helped this speedy horse to take four kilos off his back. Madhu Babu made use of his inside draw and took him to the front. Although he was challenged by Awesome Beauty and Showhorse right down the straight, Nectar Jewel produced that little extra and held on to his advantage. Showhorse pipped Awesome Beauty and took the runner-up berth. The day started with a stunning victory for rank outsider Major Asset. This four-year old who was racing in the lowest class, led in the early stages and showed the way till well into the straight. He was passed by the favourite Event Horizon near the distance post, and seemed to be fading away from the scene. Event Horizon began to drift out at this stage and also started to shorten his strides. The winning post saw a renewed challenge coming from Major Asset, who suddenly found himself in front at the all-important end. Major asset was easily backable at 50/1. The next race was also won by an unheralded Bliss. This was the first win for Bliss in his racing career. The winner had the credentials to win, but was neglected by the racegoers because of the declaration of jockey NM Khan in the saddle. Bliss won unextended from Go Go Boy and Nice Guy. The winner can be placed to win again in his next start. The only other race in the day was won by Chilly Wind. Chilly Wind had been knocking on the door in both his starts this season, and his connections decided to race him in the lower class on this occasion. Apprentice Ashok Kumar rode another neat race on this mare and came with a flourish to down the colours of the Prakash-ridden Xian. Xian had stolen a march over his rivals before being caught near the winning post. The two of them finished almost a distance clear of the others, who were totally outclassed. Worth A Gold was able to save place money by finishing third. Ashok Kumar thus completed a quick double for the day.