• Ruffina wins The Sprinters Cup (Gr.1)
  • Azzurro wins The Dr M A M Ramaswamy Stayers Cup (Gr.1)
  • Whomakestherules wins The Maj P K Mehra Memorial Super Mile Cup (Gr.1)
  • Kangra wins The Indian Turf Invitation Cup (Gr.1) in record timing
Portia Edges Out Maple Star to Win Morvi Trophy
By Mahendra Mallya
Tuesday 20 Nov 2012
Mr Vijay B. Shirke & Mr K. N. Dhunjibhoy leading Portia (S Zervan Up), winner of The Maharaja of Morvi Trophy

The opening day of the Mumbai season 2012-13, rescheduled for Tuesday from Sunday originally, took a hit with most of the patrons staying at their respective work places being a weekday. However, the action on the turf was as exciting as can be. The smaller fields notwithstanding, some of the races simply took the breath away. The fights and the finishes were crisp and those present must have thoroughly enjoyed the action to the brim. 

The Maharaja of Morvi Trophy had just three runners, yet it panned out to be an extremely electrifying race. The supporters of each of the three contenders had a lot to shout about. Portia (Bertolini – Pescara) fought brilliantly to get past her two rivals and claim the Maharaja of Morvi Trophy in a scintillating three-way finish. Although Blue Ace was well accounted for by both Maple Star and Portia, to his credit, he kept his followers interested until the last few meters.

Blue Ace took the lead soon on start and Maple Star galloped just behind the leader. Zervan kept Portia a good three lengths away, waiting for the right moment to strike. That proved a wise move on hindsight, as Portia warmed up just in time to beat Maple Star in a fierce-fully fought final furlong.

The race took a serious turn midway up the straight when Maple Star got past Blue Ace. Portia emerged with a fiery run full of power and challenged Maple Star’s new found authority. A terrific battle ensued with Liam Jones atop Maple Star attempting to make a winning debut on the course; he showed a lot more determination than finesse while under pressure. Sensing his opportunity, Zervan went for the kill and got the best out of Portia at just the right juncture to slip into the lead in the shadow of the winning post. Shroff trained Portia won by a neck from Maple Star. Blue Ace ended on the runner-up’s haunches.

Shroff Struck again in the very next race, with Silver Birch (Indesatchel – Safinaz) in another cracker of a race. Here again Zervan showed great resolve and grit to win what seemed a losing battle when Vittoria appeared on the scene. Silver Birch shot past Spirit of Mercy to take the lead with 400 meters to go. Cent Per Cent didn’t allow Silver Birch to go far ahead and started to close in with each stride. Just when it looked a battle between the two was brewing, Vittoria came like bolt from the blue to make her terrific final bid. Silver Birch, Cent Per Cent and Vittoria were all grappling each other with the winning post fast approaching and at the wire, Silver Birch just managed to keep her head upright to stay ahead at the precise moment and take the race away from the rivals snapping at the wire as well.        

Trainer Dallas Todywalla, who won the Pune Championship, continued to ride his sublime form sending out four winners on the opening day of the new Mumbai Season 2012-23. He couldn’t have asked for a better start! His first two runners Blue Ace and Home Factor began on a quite note, but when his debutante Brindaban stormed home and t. Dallas’ and transformed his day. He dominated the last three races, defied the odds and each of his runners pulled off sensational victories to keep the stable’s flag flying high.

Brindaban (Placerville – Yutai) looked nonchalant in the paddock and her winter coat was obvious. On mere looks, she certainly was not the best turned out contender, however, once out the gates, she demolished her fellow first timers with authority.

Brindaban took off with a bang as she hit the front soon on the jump. Dancing Prances and Star of Babylon were about two lengths behind, while Gitano and Gerome were at the tail end of the field. As they turned for home, Brindaban spurt Dancing d ahead nicely while Dancing Prances and the rest were all out in chase. Suraj Narredu started riding out approaching the distance post and Brindaban accelerated well to steer clear of the bunch following her. Eventually, Brindaban sailed through untroubled to win fashionably, promising to add on to this successful start.  Dancing Prances too showed that he will improve after this experience as did Gerome. Gitano ran green and that ruined his chances.

“Brindaban had shown a lot of potential during her preparation and I did expect her to win on debut. She lived up to that promise and I expect her to improve further. She did show a lot of maturity for a first outing, she jumped out well and sprang to the front as she was asked to. I am happy with this performance and I reckon she will gradually do well over longer distances in due course. My immediate reading is that she will get across to do well over the middle distances up to a mile as she gains in experience,” Dallas Todywalla told indiarace.

Step Up (Jeremy – Mix Me Up) ran away from her opponents the moment they jumped out. She went at a lively pace and stayed well ahead coming into the straight. Favourite Gold Glamour started to cut down her lead but could not quicken the way she did in Pune when going down narrowly to Visionist in the latter’s first of two victories. Augustus, meanwhile crept up from the rear to squeeze through the rails with a strong gallop. Both Augustus and Gold Glamour tried hard to dislodge the leader, but Step Up had enough to shun their attempt and win by a narrow margin.

Hill Ranger (Mr Mellon – So Shocking) looked striking in the paddock. He had had a decent Pune showing and he has carried that form over to Mumbai. He was agile at the start and led from the word go. Pound Foolish too was in forward form in Pune, but without much luck. He looked determined while in chase of the leader and had Red Tabasco and the favourite Home Factor for company as they followed close behind the leader.

On turning for home, Suraj was overtly patient with Hill Ranger and kept him on a tight leash well into the straight. Home Factor and Pound Foolish were all out in chase. Red Tabasco was not gaining much, while Three Roses showed some spark in the final 100 meters. Suraj got Hill Ranger to quicken well and sped away from the others with ease. He won well by a convincing margin. Pound Foolish, Home Factor and Three Roses ending close in that order.

Hurricane Wind (Steinbeck – Santorini Star) dominated the length of the straight to provide his master Dallas Todywalla a fine hat-trick and the fourth success overall on the day. He settled well and early into the second spot behind Reinstate, followed by Glowing Star, Set Ablaze, Royal Crest and the favourite Halle in a close bunch. 

On turning for home, Suraj Narredu eased Hurricane Wind into the lead and worked up a lovely rhythm to keep him going all the way. Halle improved to second midway and Set Ablaze too showed some spunk briefly. But both were done in as Hurricane Wind kept the momentum going to notch up a comfortable victory.

Turf Lightning (Kodiac – Cahermee Queen) showed tremendous improvement over her satisfactory Pune form and scored a fashionable victory beating the highly rated Rosalind in an exciting race and clinched the Charles Forbes Trophy. Although Turf Lightning held the upper hand all the way from the start, all the runners ran close and interestingly, just under three lengths covered the entire field the post.   

Turf Lightning set off at a good pace and Rosalind, the main threat, was up in second. The rest followed in close order. Into the straight, Turf Lightning kept up the good work with jockey Liam Jones, after getting the feel of the course a little while earlier, managed to keep her in check for a good part. Once he got her going, Turf Lightning responded extremely well and kicked on to snuff the challenge out of her opponents. Rosalind tried hard but was no match. Déjà vu too looked competent enough for a brief while, but failed to sustain that spark of brilliance. Manyatta never really raised hopes but managed to peg back Déjà vu to snatch back the third spot. Turf Lightning was clearly superior on the day.

Unknown Rebel (Cash Law – Jaipur Jewel) won a close battle, with danger lurking on either side as he nosed out his challengers in a thrilling finish to get his first taste of victory. It was Neptune who held a slender lead along with Rising Angel and Afsoon as they brought the field homewards. Unknown Rebel and Princess Khatoum were trudging close behind along with Mahima on the outside.

Unknown Rebel fought to take over the lead with a furlong to go. Mahima warmed up well and offered a tough fight. All the while, jockey Sandesh atop Princess Khatoum was losing precious time looking for room. The indecision whether to move inward or out proved fatal, as Princess Khatoum flew towards the end to run a very close third. Had he made a decisive more a second or two earlier, the story might have been different. Mahima challenged Unknown Rebel very strongly, but young Kavraj Singh showed great resolve and held on stubbornly to survive by a very narrow margin.  

Quando Quando (Mr Mellon – Knowledgeable) partnered by Sandesh finished on with an electrifying run closer home to score her maiden victory in her 13th attempt. Racing in the rear for most part of the seven-furlong race, Quando Quando improved positions on entering the homestretch. Prince Arius led them until the turn and gave up once Adventurer took over from him.

Adventurer gave a good account of himself as he shot into the lead and worked up a decent finishing effort. He had it in control until the final few strides which is when Quando Quando unleashed her best. Favourite Milano Green was the quickest to jump out and when he came to a prominent third position in the straight, he had nothing extra to offer. Milano Green ended a tame third. 

For the professionals, Dallas Todywalla with four winners towered over the rest. Pesi Shroff saddled two winners while jockey Suraj Narredu rode three and Zervan & Sandesh a double each.