Mr Joydeep Datta Gupta & trainer Bharath Singh leading Sana (Dashrath Singh Up), winner of The Kunigal Stud Indian Produce Stakes
The New Year’s Day races at this centre has been a high profile ‘must attend’ event for socialites here since the introduction of this ‘sport of kings’ by the British centuries ago. Attired in their Sunday best, well-dressed men and colourfully clad women of all ages poured in through the turnstiles well before the first race at 11.30am. The stands were well and truly bulging by the third race of the day.
With the current cold weather playing its part, this year’s mega event witnessed the largest gathering seen at the Kolkata racecourse. The record attendance of over 25,000 pleased RCTC CEO Mr Sudhir Kothari no end. The turnstiles never stopped turning as visitors trooped in by the hundreds. The totalisator counters were jingling with cash right through the six hour period during which as many as ten races were conducted. The tote collection of nearly Rs 2 crore was almost double that of any other day.
The cash-rich Kunigal Stud Indian Produce Stakes with a winner’s purse of nearly Rs 12 lakh, saw Manvendra Singh-trained Fortune Express installed as the favourite while the sole filly in the field of five – Sana (Multidimensional-Yana/ Usha Stud) was available at 9/2. The other premier colt King Credible was available at 5/1. The pair of King Credible and Fortune Express went at each other’s throats as the gates opened and this undoubtedly aided the filly as Dashrath Singh improved her position along the rails to be in close touch with the pair before the turning for home. Fortune Express won the battle for the lead and the speedster appeared well placed to score at the distance marker. However, Dashrath turned on the heat with a couple of taps and the Bharath Singh-trained youngster stretched out beautifully to spare over a length at the wire.
Dashrath was also at his brilliant best in the Eveready RCTC Gold Vase as he piloted Bharath Singh-trained Shourisha (Declaration of War-Minivet/ Lingwood Stud) for eventual speed and got the better of Square Moon at the wire. In this 2200 metres event, the lead changed hands several times before apprentice Hindu Singh did rather well to force a passage down the middle with Square Moon and looked a winner thereafter. However, Dashrath had his mount positioned well on the outside and rode him out hands and heels to land the spoils.
The western India riding star completed a cup treble when he piloted Vijay Singh-trained Splash Proof (Whatsthescript-Splash Of Class) to a clever victory in the race for The T2 Cup. He did not permit front-running Jordana to settle and quickly went to the helm of affairs as the gates opened. This appeared to unnerve the apprentice atop Jordana who was soon caught in ‘no man’s land’. After a mid-way breather, Splash Proof kicked on merrily and staved off the challenge of the favourite King’s Crown in the final furlong.
The other western India rider who notched up a treble was S. Zervan. The first of his triumphs was astride Pesi Shroff-trained filly Anacapri (Mineshaft-Time’s Mistress) who won the Bookmaker’s Association Cup by a widening margin of over four lengths. Despite being a maiden starter, she quite easily collared the front-running Jump And Run to win as she liked.
The upper division of the Zara Shah Handicap was next on Zervan’s list as he won it in spectacular fashion with Arti Doctor-schooled Taygetus (Arabian Gulf-Sail By Roos/ Manjri Stud). Speedy Pouru Chisti was well ridden by Mohit Singh to be kept in check behind front-running Desert Cat till well into the straight. The rest of the field were far behind. Mohit did rather well to collar the front-runner and pull away in the final furlong. But the day belonged to fancied runners and the 10/1 shot succumbed to the favourite in the final stride as Zervan set the gelding alight near the distance post and brought home the bacon with some hard riding. Zervan completed his treble with heavily backed King’s Canyon (Jeremy-Radhwa) who won the Hermes Voyages Cup start-to-finish. The Gaikwad-trained speedster thus made it back-to-back wins at this centre.
Trainer Vijay Singh set the ball rolling for the day with Celerino (Arazan-Chantale) who outclassed the field in the upper division of The Colonial Handicap. My Lady Luck was a disappointment. In the lower division of the same race, apprentice Nikhil Naidu did rather well to land the spoils with Avilome Vilome (Declaration Of War-Victoria Rose/ Lingwood Stud) . The Javed Khan-trained filly was knocking for sometime and the 4kg allowance of the apprentice did the trick – but not before surviving a scare from Imara who was moving fast along the rails.
As jockey PS Chouhan was late to arrive from Bangalore, Sandeep Rajput got a chance ride astride Vijay Singh-trained Fury (Burden Of Proof-Sugarbird/ Kunigal Stud) and the lad did rather well to hoist the winning flag in a close finish with Apsaras. The unlikely favourite Sweet Stone was heavily under the whip to finish a good third.
The curtain came down with PS Chouhan riding a hard finish atop Farley Rodrigues-trained Tangalooma (Arabian Gulf-Star Princess / Manjri Stud) to bag top honours in a close finish with Midnight Star in the Club 7 Holidays Cup.