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Palazzo Grazioli Wins Piaggio Million in a Thriller

By Mahendra Mallya | 19 Sep 2010 | PUNE

Trainer Vinayak leading Palazzo Grazioli ( S Zervan Up), winner of The Piaggio Apemini Sprint Million

That the Piaggio Apemini Sprint Million would be a close one was expected. But what transpired on the track was simply astounding! Palazzo Grazioli and Ocean Wish unleashed an electrifying battle and elevated the thrills of horse racing to the highest level. Palazzo Grazioli’s effort was even more supreme as he got off to a rather slow start and was ahead of just Andromache, who was slower off the gates for the most part of the scurry.

Illustrious and Viva La Diva were quick at start and they headed a tightly packed front bunch with Star of Killarney and Khursaniyah in close attendance, Ocean Wish and favourite Ocean Emperor were not too far behind. Palazzo Grazioli was still closer to the rear passing the 800. Ocean Wish zipped past the front runners soon on turning for home and held a clear edge over her immediate adversaries. Jockey Zervan then sent Palazzo Grazioli in chase breaking through a bunch of horses and joined alongside Ocean Wish with less than 300 to go. Both CS Jodha astride Ocean Wish and Zervan atop Palazzo Grazioli matched each other and dashed towards the winning post with some zestful riding. The Crowds were given their money’s worth, as both, Palazzo Grazioli and Ocean Wish flashed past the winning post.

Even the normally accurate race caller Deepak Rajpal was perplexed and wouldn’t commit as to who had the slender edge at the wire. The verdict however, tilted, by a hundredth of a second, towards Palazzo Grazioli (Royal Kingdom - Fedora). The finish was breathtaking and both the lads got the best out of their horses. It’s a pity one had to lose! Among the beaten lot, Khursaniyah ran a good third and Royal Highness, who objected against Khursaniyah for interference, did well to hit the frame. The objection was overruled.

The Combine of Dr Shashi Jain, Mr Vivek Jain, Mr Rohit Patel along with their trainer Zadmal Singh pulled off a lucrative double on the day. Swahili (Alnasr Alwasheek – Singita) found his winning form and put his start-to-finish tendency to effective use by clasping to his lead despite mounting threats from White Knight and Misschevious Trot. Swahili dictated the pace right from the start whereas Saltoro was guilty of a lethargic jump from the gates.

Jockey Imran Chisty was quickly in action scrubbing Saltoro to cover lost ground and was soon running third behind Swahili and White Knight. As Swahili led the field homeward, Saltoro tried to challenge but Saltoro just wouldn’t quicken. Misschevious Trot and White Knight came from either side of Swahili and both were closing in gradually. However, Swahili managed to hold them both and prevail in a close finish.

White Knight’s consistency this season has been remarkable and he edged out Misschevious Trot for the runner-up berth. The Jains and Patel association secured another trophy after Swahili got them the Amazing Bay Trophy. This time it was Confiserie (Placerville – Sprungli) who brought home the Yana Trophy in a totally contrasting fashion. If Swahili won leading from the word go, Confiserie rose from the dead last position to land the spoils with a good stretch run.

Fish Pilot made the early running with a pack of horses chasing him closely and the top two fancies, Sea Treasure and Confiserie, were at the tail end of the field. Both made their forward move at the same juncture while round the final curve, but jockey Trevor showed a lot more alacrity in seizing the initiative soon at the turn. Rajendra surprisingly was found wanting and that little advantage Trevor exploited to the hilt. Confiserie took off and built a handy lead. She kicked on relentlessly to register a fine victory.

Sea Treasure ended a tame second and a jockey of Rajendra’s calibre could certainly have done better. It was as if Trevor had caught Rajendra unawares as he drove home the advantage of having made his bid at the precise moment. Rajendra did manage to close in, but that effort came in too late for the favourite. Zadmal’s double came at a most opportune time, the day being his father, Sri Uttam Singhji’s birthday. Uttamji turned 92 and still looks hale and hearty. Indiarace extends warm greetings to the ”ladies’ man,” as the master trainer for fillies, Sri Uttam Singh, was popularly known, on his special day. Nefyn (Senure x Machrihanish) proved too good for rivals and won with expected ease.

Quoted at below half money in the betting ring, Nefyn ambled along early on as Highland Music led the way from River Star and Agha. Semper Eadem was just alongside Nefyn. At the turn, Highland Music was still ahead as River Star came off the bridle, Nefyn stuck close to the rails. Highland Music led by a length into the straight. Nefyn was right behind and Rajendra on River Star was just adjacent to Nefyn. If there was a ploy to delay Nefyn’s progress in the straight, it didn’t work at all. Nefyn cut through a narrow gap and bludgeoned his way to the front and still on a tight rein, stormed ahead outclassing the opposition with majestic grace.

Jockey Dashrath Singh had little work to do as Nefyn cruised ahead to stop the clock under the minute, confirming yet again that he is one of the best sprinters around on the circuit. Highland Music ended up second for the fourth consecutive time this season, this time however, to a top-notch sprinter Nefyn. River Star ended close behind Highland Music and Agha did well regaining lost ground to beat Semper Eadem home.

Ocean Storm (Mr. Mellon - Associate) blew away the opposition, Zillionaire being the main casualty. Adams Prince was slowly off yet made rapid progress to lead the field by about three, midway through the backstretch. Frost Fairy chased the leader and had Zillionaire close behind her. Ocean Storm had one behind her and that was Rapide. Admas Prince faded out and Frost Fairy assumed charge entering the straight. Zillionaire was right behind but never raised a hope. He was slipping behind Frost Fairy when Ocean Storm hit the front with thundering strides. Frost Fairy fought bravely but Ocean Storm was simply too fast. Ocean Storm got past about 100 metres from the winning post and won well. Frost Fairy was a fighting second and Rapide made definite progress to end third beating Zillionaire to fourth.

Blumarine (Glory of dancer – Star Wind) looked sound and fit while compiling a fluent victory that was flawless right from the start. Taking a quick jump, Blumarine settled in fourth as Dictator shot ahead with Sea Queen and Royal Gesture close behind. Crème De La Crème and Blazing Spectacle were in the mid-group while Polariser was slowly off. Dictator came in home first and soon came under the stick. Blumarine started to warm up nicely and as she neared Dictator, one could spot her as the winner.

Blumarine was fast and surged away to score a decisive victory. She too clocked under the minute which was indeed a superlative effort. Dictator did not allow any other contender to get past him. Swept Away ran into place money while Polariser did well to run on the frame. Monk’s Ferrari (Hymn - Bliss Leavitt) successfully negated a late dual challenge from Oriental Magic and Star Invitation. Setting her own pace, Monk’s Ferrari led the field homeward with Reinstate in close vicinity. Reinstate bowed out soon in the homestretch, but Monk’s Ferrari marched on. Star Invitation and Oriental Magic started the task of bridging the gap and were gaining on Monk’s Ferrari. It was a three-way battle in the final furlong and Monk’s Ferrari held on stubbornly to head the trio at the wire.

Oriental Magic and Star Invitation dead heated for the second. Jockey Neeraj Rawal rode well and was superb at the finish. Gloria proved that she could ’waddle’! After a level jump from the gates, Flying Tackle led the field, that was closely knitted with the prominent ’jodi’ (pair) Aberdovey and National Ikon at the rear, but not too far back.

Gloria (Diffident - La Unique) was making constant progress along the rails and when she got the gap at the turn, she gleefully slipped through to bounce into the lead. Aberdovey was spent even as they straightened up and National Ikon took the turn wide. Gloria sailed away making it a no contest.

Jockey HG Rathod (well, I thought I saw him smiling past the grand stands) even looked over his shoulder mocking at the opposition as he zipped past the winning post, registering his first victory. National Ikon beat the rest while Solid Rock held on from Aberdovey to earn place money.