• Punjabi Girl wins The Fillies Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
By Mahendra Mallya
Sunday 26 Feb 2017
Mr Dinsha P Shroff , Mr Munchi P Shroff & Trainer Dallas Todywalla leading Ruffina (David Allan Up), winner of The Poonawalla Breeders Multi-Million (Gr.1)

Dr Cyrus S Poonawalla, breeder and part owner of Ruffina (Excellent Art – Miss Danehill, Villoo’s Greenfield Farm) was visibly thrilled by the filly’s astounding performance and termed her as a special talent. Ruffina, hitherto unbeaten in her two previous outings, brought out her best to date to pummel a get set of juveniles to win universal accolades while winning the Poonawalla Breeders’ Multi-Million exhibiting a mind-boggling turn of foot.

It was not all smooth-sailing for the Dallas Todywalla trained filly as she was closeted between horses all through the early half of the race. Phoenix Falcon led for a brief while and then Lincoln took over the rest were huddled close together and not too far from the front runners. Ruffina found herself closer to the rear in the 14 horse field with just three behind her, while Tutankhamun was just a spot ahead of Ruffina. David Allan, who has been at the top of his game particularly in the bigger races at the Mahalaxmi track, was up to the challenging task of ensuring Ruffina a clear passage to unleash her run. He astutely switched lanes and produced the filly from the outside and even began to urge her forwards while stilling curving around the turn.

Whoever was in the lead with 400 to go did not matter as Ruffina unleashed a powerful burst in the straight unseen for a long time from any thoroughbred her age. She was all grace and raw power as she sped away from a quality field in a trice and established a winning lead in a blink of an eye. The crowd response was terrific as they hailed her all the way in the final furlong past the Grand Stands. The impressive Tutankhamun too paled in his runner-up performance, while beating the rest with a commendable margin. Ruffina, to my mind, brought the memories of another legend Oasis Star who was a champion sprinter possibly of all times to grace the Mahalaxmi turf. Ruffina showed the same spark and matching speed and this being only her third career start, she would go far and end up on a high in the years to come.

“She is a specially talented filly and it was delightful to see her turn of foot. We will race her sparingly and carefully plan out her career. She has dazzling speed which we all saw and I am confident she would get the mile as well,” said Dr Cyrus Poonawalla.

“She has raw speed and she settles beautifully, said jockey David Allan. The manner in which she accelerated, she could come from any position. I was a bit concerned in the early part and had to make up my mind which way to go. I took the safer option of taking the outside route and the moment I asked her to go, she exploded. She sustained that burst extremely well and this filly will go places.”

Trainer Dallas Todywalla was shaking hands non-stop as accolades poured in from scores of known and unknown faces, the joy of success clearly visible on his face. “I am jubilant. She has done me proud. I knew she was classy after her first win and I was convinced she was altogether a different class after her last win. I am glad for Dr Cyrus Poonawalla and I was always keen to be a part in his winning a big race of this stature for him. Yes Ruffina is top class and I am excited to have her in my stables, said Dallas.

Trainer Malesh Narredu sent out two heavily backed favorites and both won their respective races convincingly. Benefactor (Arazan Lovely Kiss, Poonawalla Astonish Stud) was the hot favourite going out at half money and he won the Dr Goolam Vahanvati Gold Trophy with absolute ease.  Gazino brought the field homewards and soon Benefactor arrived with a big gallop to sail past without encountering any challenge. He stretched out nicely and won drawing away, implying he is on his way up and an encore is on the cards.

Last start debut winner Chizzler (Arazan – Heiress, Poona Stud) produced yet another scorching run taking the lead early in the straight much the same way he did on his debut. He established a winning lead coming into the final furlong and won easing up. Miss Saigon covered a lot of ground in the straight but just could not catch up. She finished on well though, ending on the haunches of the winner.

Celtic Prince (Dancing Forever – Celtic Memories, Hazara Stud) has been in great touch and trainer Waheed deserves praise for keeping the six-year-old in great heart and consistent right through the season. Celtic Prince notched up a clever start to finish victory with Neeraj Rawal in the saddle, speeding away to a huge lead early on and then galloping resolutely in the straight to keep his three rivals at bay. Paramour tried hard to catch up but never got close enough. Rule Downunder was too far back to make any impact, while The Champ disappointed.

Pesi Shroff trained Geranium (Mastercraftsman – Kirtle, Nanoli Stud) fresh from her classic exposure picked up her second win in style. Settled in third until the turn, Geranium came up to challenge new leader Othello past the 400. Geranium took charge alright but had to contend with Othello and Kitty Hawk who were always asking questions. Geranium kept the momentum going all the way and warded off the two-way threat and prevailed to win the Intervalve Poonawalla Ltd Trophy from Othello and Kitty Hawk.

Adeline (Chevalier – Avec Plaisir, Ruia Stud) fought a hard battle to score a narrow win in a thrilling finish. Furiosa brought the field into the straight and soon Grey Flannel came up with a good gallop to get past. Adeline then began to chase down the elader with Airlift also making a forward surge. In the final furlong Adeline and Airlift matched stride for stride with Grey Flannel sticking close with them. Jockey Trevor’s sustained and aggressive riding helped Adeline nose the wire just ahead of Airlift. Grey Flanner ended a close third.

The concluding event of the day saw Abbey (Phoenix Tower – Attune, Manjri Stud) score an encore winning even mor convincingly this time. Hitting the front at start, Abbey had Serenita for company until into the straight. Abbey shok off Serenita and bounded forward to gain a slight advantage over the others. Undisputed arrived with a good run to challenge the leader, while Allora moved up from the rails. Neither could get at Abbey as jockey Suraj Narredu ensured there were no last minute surprises and goading Abbey to sustain the momentum and sail home.

For the professionals, trainer Malesh Narredu saddled a double while jockeys Suraj Narredu and Neeraj Rawal scored a double each.