Stewards Make the Right Call
Being a Steward can at times be a thankless job despite all the power they wield. However, on Wednesday, the guardians called it right by upholding an objection which gave Aerator the race. Shailesh Shinde has only himself to blame – or rather it was his inexperience which got the better of him when the heat was on. If one may draw a parallel (for followers of EPL and Champions League), his case was similar to that of Man United full back Rafael who was given marching orders against Bayern Munich – sheer negligence and inexperience.
It was the running of the seven-furlong race for The Illuminate Plate. The even-money favourite Aerator (Oath-Liquid Gold) was brilliantly taken along the rails by C. Alford and squeezed through to hit the front near the distance post. Shershah and Shinde came at him all guns blazing – which would have been fine had he maintained a straight course. Unfortunately by ceaselessly using the stick in his left hand, his mount bumped Alford’s colt dangerously about 150 metres from home.
Alford was fortunate not to be thrown off the horse but he completely lost his stride and lost the race by three lengths. The objection was inevitable. Had Shinde refrained from using the whip before the horses bumped, he would have probably won anyway but his eagerness got the better of him. In such a case of dangerous and reckless riding, the Stewards rightly did not take cognisance of the verdict; rather it was sheer act itself which was thoroughly unprofessional and utterly dangerous. There have been cases where such riding has resulted in disqualification. There was a school of thought among the Senior Stipes that the boy be allowed to keep the race but fined heavily.
However, as the chairman rightly pointed out, that would set a precedent whereby other youngsters might resort to reckless riding to win a race and hope to get away with it. What is extremely important is that consistency of the Stewards decisions be maintained irrespective of the colours involved. An incident which left a sour taste last year was the upholding of the objection against Art Excellence after the running of The Alokananda Stakes. What the Stewards and Stipes missed was that Chisty and Secret Fire had severely bumped Alford on Art Excellence at 250 metres from home. Thus, even if the latter rolled onto Secret Fire subsequently, it would be of no consequence as the first offence was far more serious. Christopher Alford was once again in his element as he piloted home four winners.
Vijay Singh-trained Washington Irvine (Razeen-Magic Fountain) won The Pearson Surita Memorial Cup without too much trouble. He collared the front-running Work Force at the distance post and strode away, simply outclassing Ashridge and Chief Justice. Alford rode a measured race on the 10-to-7-on favourite Strauss (Placerville-Romantic Memories) who won the upper division of The Flying Brave Handicap. Vikash Jaiswal cleverly declared forceful Delhi jockey Irfan Ali on Pine Valley and the latter gave the winner a scare or two inside the distance.
Irfan rode another power-packed finish on Local Warrior (Local Talent-Shimmering Sea) in the lower division of the same race. Though his mount cut across the field from the outside, fortunately it did not cause a mishap or any hindrance to the other riders. Fancied runners Mohabbi and Star Of Cardiff occupied the minor berths. Zillionaire was seen to gallop merrily on a start-to-finish mission to bag The Racingpulse In Cup and would have been successful had Alford on Ballantyne (Flitch-Accademia) not decided otherwise. The five-year-old seems to have found his galloping shoes at last and Vijay Singh’s patience with his ward seems to have paid off.
Both Must Be Magic and Xavier have yet to find winning form. The run of Vence and Star Infinity in the upper division of The El Padrone Handicap was extremely disappointing. The top two berths were occupied by aged Badal (Storm Trooper - Stylish Beauty) and Blood Rayne. The former was ridden with great purpose by Delhi top-weight Imran Khan to make it something of a consolation win for trainer Shafiq Khan (whose Shershah was at the receiving end of the objection).
Nana Raghunath’s Fish Pilot (Brave Hunter- Love’s A Mirage), Shezad Khan up, brought the curtain down without any hiccups. Bach was a good second and will be worth following. The less said about The Dizzy Heights Handicap, the better. A crawling pace set by Ocean Dancer saw top-weight Italian Dream (Juniper-Angel Guardian) come good. The final time of 2 min 29.8 sec for a 2,000 metres trip was truly shameful even for the lowest category.