- india's first & foremost horse racing portal

Atlantus Gallops Away With Ruia Gold

By Mahendra Mallya | 25 Sep 2010 | PUNE

Mr. M Lakshminarayana & trainer Sharat Kumar leading Atlantus (S John Up), winner of The Nirmal Ruia Gold Trophy

Atlantus (Juniper – Admiration), owned by Mr M Laxminarayana and trained by Sharat Kumar, produced an impressive stretch-run, to knock his rivals away and land the Nirmal Ruia Gold Trophy, the feature of the Pune Races on Saturday. The Bengaluru-based trio of the owner, trainer and jockey, pulled of a successful mission on the Pune turf, just as Spark Of Gold did last week. Weizhou, who was the most fancied runner in the line-up, tried the runaway tactic but could not sustain.

Running with blinkers ‘on’ for the first time, Weizhou shot ahead early, set a fast initial pace and was enjoying a sizeable lead past the 600. Weizhou galloped on, leading the field into the straight, but could not raise the bar. Portrush was the first to challenge the leader and as the duo fought, Pepe Junior too joined the issue just near the distance post. Meanwhile, Atlantus, who was third from the wrong end all the while, gained ground with each stride in the straight and then got stronger in the final furlong. Ikaria too rose from the dead-last position to inch his way closer despite the chunk of weight he was giving the rest. It was sort of a cavalry charge in the final furlong with five runners vying for the upper hand, all spread alongside each other, across the width of the track, with Atlantus in full flight.

In the final 100, Atlantus drove home the advantage and posted a perfectly judged finish to win despite carrying an overweight of three kilos. Jockey S Jhon was in his elements, getting the best out of Atlantus which was good enough to see them through. Pepe Junior also put in a brave show to run second and Ikaria too ending a noteworthy third. Portrush and Weizhou ran well and ended close behind the top three. For the ‘Lionheart’ trainer, this was sheer ecstasy. Sharat Kumar is fondly called ‘Lionheart,’ after his ward Lionheart, who reached the pinnacle of top class and was one among the most consistent horses from his stables in Bengaluru. Lionheart, the horse, rose from the lowest rung to perch at the top of class I, making rapid progress along the way. Atlantus too, has shown an upward line in his career graph.

“Atlantus has been in great touch for quite some time now, and his first victory this season in Mysore carrying 63.5 was a superlative effort. In his next run, he finished fourth in a big field but he didn't disappoint me. I was optimistic about his chances in Pune and we decided to take a crack at the Ruia Gold Trophy about three weeks back,” Sharat told Indiarace.

When asked about the 3 kilo overweight with John in the saddle, Sarath replied, “Oh, I was not unduly worried about it. John is the perfect foil for Atlantus and the gelding has always run well with him. So I was confident that John would justify this and it feels good when one is proved right,” he concluded. For owner Laxminarayana, this was a moment of extreme joy. “Atlantus possesses a great heart and his zest for racing has never been low. He has thrilled me before, but his victory here in Pune is one to cherish. I was not perturbed seeing him so far back in the field nearing the final bend, as I knew his final dash is superlative.

It was a well-fought victory and both Pepe Junior and Ikaria were too close for comfort. I felt delighted when he breezed past the winning post,” he said. It was a day of tumbling favourites as only three first fancies obliged. And whenever this is the case, more often than not, trainer Narendra Lagad has been busy leading in his horses. Naren reeled off a three-in-a-row, accounting for the first three races. The man never ceases to amaze with his enviable strike rate with rank outsiders. He started the day with shocking the favourite, Walk Of Life in the day’s opener with his charge Chingari rallying late, to pip the favourite on the post. Stud Of Gold and Torcello were disputing the early lead with Splendid Secret close behind and were clear of the rest.

Walk Of Life improved position steadily to be in the vicinity to strike and in a bid to avoid traffic, took the turn slightly wide. Splendid Secret had barely got past Torcello to lead them, when Walk Of Life moved forward. By then, Splendid Secret had given all he had to offer. Walk Of Life was marching towards the winning post and those nearest to him didn’t look one bit threatening. Chingari (Ontario – Miss Formidare) then began to cover ground at a brisk rate and the momentum got her past the favourite on the last stride. Chingari covered at least four lengths in the last furlong to stun Walk Of Life. A gallant effort indeed! Suzy Wong (China Visit – Altimara) finally won her maiden victory without much anxiety. Settling well in close proximity of the front runners, Suzy Wong readily took charge early in the straight and went from strength to strength. Enchanted was a touch slow off the blocks, but made gradual progress and started to chase Suzy Wong in the straight.

However, Suzy Wong was well ahead and in no mood to relent and a hapless Enchanted had to be content with the runner-up berth. Ijlal never really improved and finished third. The hat-tricker for Naren was a bombshell in Moment To Remember. The friendless filly, who had no form to go by, laid siege from the word go and carried on regardless. Settling into the early lead, Moment To Remember (Ontario – Momentarily) stretched further away and was decisively ahead on turning for home. Jalsa got a bad check soon on start and this paved way for the stipendary stewards to hold an enquiry. Although the order of the judge’s placings was retained, the jockeys involved (Sunny Chinoy and S John) were pulled up for the incident.

Jalsa was hampered no doubt and ended a tame fourth. Swiss Belle was fighting a losing battle against Moment To Remember alright, but fought well to ward off Golden Heart for the runner-up slot. Light My Way (Senure – Way of Light) avenged her defeat at the hands of Rigel when they last met. This time, however, Light My Way ensured there was no hiccup and shot ahead early in the straight and worked up a huge lead. Rigel, unfortunately, broke a blood vessel and could offer no fight, ending a faraway second.

Black Phantom and Born Special were in the lead with the rest following closely, Light My Way was in the mid-bunch, whereas Rigel chose to race in the rear, with only Lightning Cavalry behind him. As they turned for home, Light My Way, who had improved to be in striking position, shot ahead and it was all over then. Rigel too had made rapid progress, and set about in chase of the winner but as it turned out, Rigel could not match up to Light My Way. The broken blood vessel, certainly did not help matters. Glowing Star did not look comfortable against the rain hitting the turf but Stormette (Major Impact - Double Quick) certainly relished the wet going.

Amidst a steady drizzle, Marigold hit the front with Stormette and Glowing Star occupying the third and fourth spots behind Emerald Queen. On entering the straight, Marigold could not capitalize on his two-length lead and faded away. Stormette was the one to quicken and he left Glowing Star behind in a matter of seconds to stretch away gallantly. Glowing Star ran on to finish a good 2¼ lengths behind, while Sun Kissed progressed to end in the money, just ahead of Classic Money. Talk Of The Town (Broto – Porsche Too) pulled off a neat coup and was one of the prime contenders to oblige in the day. It was a rough ride though, as there was a lot of jostling in the fight to the finish. They ran in a close huddle all the way into the straight.

Wild Torronaado came in home first, but had a bunch of horses breathing down her neck. Soon, Belligerent tried to match strides and Talk Of The Town swooped upon them from the outer side. Divine got hemmed between horses and lost a couple of strides. Talk Of The Town finished on strongest to hit the wire ahead of the stubborn Wild Torronaado who managed to stay ahead of Belligerent. Arabian Pride did well to end in the frame while Generalissimo failed to do his best due to a hampered passage.

Dancing Money (Mr Mellon – Shirley Valentine) proved another big shocker of the day putting in a lively gallop to clinch the fourth race of the day. Secret Talk led the field homewards and hot on his tail were Ashwa Prahar and Wild Imagination. Hickory got a clear rail run but failed to make headway. Dancing Money showed good alacrity and came from between Secret Talk and Wild Imagination who went slightly wide. Once in prominence, Dancing Money accelerated well and Ashwa Prahar provided a keen fight. The pair fought out the final furlong with Dancing Money earning his victory the hard way.

Ashwa Prahar was a gallant second and Secret Talk finished on to end a good third. Hammerhead (Diffident – Private Collection) literally hammered his opponents to submission with his best effort yet. Hitting the front right from start, Hammerhead did well to dictate terms to the speedy Sepia Tone all the way into the straight. Once in the homestretch, Hammerhead accelerated with purpose and drew away from Sepia Tone who was carrying a big chunk of weight. Hammerhead looked the winner long way from home and scored a decisive victory.

Old-timer Game Of Power did exceptionally well to get past Sepia Tone for the runner-up slot. For the professionals, trainer Narendra Lagad saddled a treble while CD Katrak had two winners to show. Jockeys YS Srinath and Dashrath Singh scored a double each as well.