• Punjabi Girl wins The Fillies Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
  • Sir Cecil wins The Colts Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
By Epsom Ace
Saturday 25 Feb 2017
Trainer Raunak Banerji leading Mr Gorgeous (C Alford Up), winner of The Governors Cup

Jockey Christopher Alford showed on Saturday just why he is the darling of the local railbirds as he booted home a high-priced treble to bring him at par with Dashrath Singh in the jockeys’ championship table. It would be relevant to note here that he was out of action for about six weeks after an injury during morning trackwork. It is quite evident after this day that the ace jockey has regained his sparkle of old.

After winning on the youngster Occitan and hat-trick horse Taygetus, Alford picked up the plum of the day – The Governor’s Cup – while astride top-weighted Mr Gorgeous. He was however provided a helping hand by stablemate Aptness who jumped out right across the path of the bottom-weight Bullrun in the adjacent stall. The latter was being piloted by an apprentice and quite understandably, he didn’t have the wherewithal to recover from the setback. The favourite Captain Cook set a good pace and Trevor was no doubt aiming for a pillar-to-post victory in the mile race. However, C. Alford on Raunak Banerji-trained Mr Gorgeous (Mr Mellon-Drop Dead Gorgeous/  Ruia Stud) had other ideas as he powered his mount past the front-runner in the straight. Shourisha’s run was a bit of a disappointment as he ended up a poor third, behind aged Copernicus.

Alford’s first winner was astride James McKeown’s filly Occitam (Win Legend – Aquitaine/ Dashmesh Stud). Deespite this being her maiden start, she moved with a thunderous gallop in the straight to put paid to the pretensions of   the public choice Gloaming in the upper division of Thee N Karanjawalla Cup.  Alford next guided Arti Doctor-trained Taygetus (Arabian Gulf – Sail By Roos/ Manjri Stud) to his fourth consecutive victory, thus making him a candidate for the ‘horse of the season’ mantle. It was a skilful display of horsemanship as he bisected the front-running pair of Murlough Bay and Splash Proof.

Jockey Neeraj Rawal completed a brace with the Vijay Singh-trained pair of He Calls The Shots and Drops Of Jupiter. The latter, a filly by Rebuttal out of Anacita (Hazara Stud), won the Dasho Lhendup Dorji Memorial Cup  by getting the better of piping hot favourite San Martino who was on his usual start-to-finish mission. Lying third along the rails till heads turned for home, Rawal set her alight in the straight and she responded well. Though she ran erratically for a brief period, she won quite comfortably in the end.  Earlier Rawal had ridden the public fancy He Calls The Shots (Multidimensional – Brushed Aside/ Usha Stud) to a none too impressive triumph in the lower division of The N Karanjawalla Cup. Rawal had to stretch his mount to collar front-running Sanvi.

The afternoon’s most neglected winner was Vikash Jaiswal-trained Native Speaker (Tariq-Native Quest/ Equus Stud) who  won The Zelda Handicap, the day’s opener, quite comfortably.  Ridden by brother Vinay Jaiswal, Native Speaker was kept in fourth or fifth slot till the straight where rather cleverly he opted for the rails and kept at  bay Uptown Girl and McCartney.

In the very next race, The Radio One Run Cup,  the Javed Khan stable landed a good gamble with Star One (Stern Opinion – Moselle ) who made every post a winning one in the hands of apprentice Nikhil Naidu. The threat to the top-weight emanated from bottom-weighted Mustang but the competent Naidu remained unperturbed to register a flawless win.

The Javed Khan yard completed a lucrative double when they landed another good gamble in the last race of the day, The Mauritius Belle Handicap. A narrow loser last time out over seven furlongs,  the filly Francina (Sixties Icon-Tidie France) lapped up the extra furlong to win from Dixie Diamond and Washington in the hands of top-weight jockey B Mahesh.