• Punjabi Girl wins The Fillies Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
  • Sir Cecil wins The Colts Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
By Ikram Khan
Saturday 11 Mar 2017
Mr Aditya P Thackersey & trainer S Dominic leading Rafa (P S Chouhan Up), winner of The F.K. Irani Memorial Trophy

After finishing second twice, the Dominic-trained Rafa who looked a picture of fitness at the paddock parade chalked out his first win this season, coming up trumps in the F K Irani Memorial Trophy on Saturday.  The winner in striking position all through the seven furlongs trip produced a winning gallop when the race came on a boil and put the issue beyond doubt in the final furlong. The topweighted Baracchus who was seen gracing the wrong end of the field for most part of the journey finished on purposefully at end to gain the runner-up berth ahead of Bonfire while the heavily supported Anantara from Gregory Sandhu’s yard after raising hopes at the top of the straight went out of gas and finished in the ruck.

The hype and hoopla surrounding the half-money favourite  Automatic who was fancied most and was withdrawn at the starting gates during the Indian Turf Invitation Cup week-end saw most big bettors and many small punters plum for the Irfan ward only to lose out big. The youngster who had produced a eye-catching effort in the hands of Anjar Alam on debut performed below par with leading pro Suraj Narredu and this calls for some explanations from the trainer. Glittering Gold from Warren Singh’s yard made a winning debut to win the upper division of the Ardent Knight Trophy from Afrikaner while Automatic finished a poor third.  The lower division of the race saw Gregory Sandhu schooled  Kvasir fancied sweetly by the connections win with a measure of comfort in the hands of jockey Srinath. Rum Runner did well to gain the runner-up spot from Apalachee.

In a pulse-pounding finish, Neil Darashah-trained Escala brilliantly piloted by Suraj Narredu edged out the lesser fancied Balian at the shadow of the winning post in the  Bhagamandala Plate run over nine furlongs.  

The five to one shot Balian from Padmanabhan’s yard piloted by top pro Sandesh stole a march at the top of the straight and looked set to close out the contest before Suraj brought  Escala into contention and after a ding-dong battle in the final furlong, Suraj gained the day to the delight of his supporters. Favourite Legal Dream ran on to finish third, finding the battling duo in front too hot to handle.

After two gambles failed, the connections of Frenemee were third time lucky, the Md.Khan ward wisely chosen to compete over an extended trip delivering the goods in the hands of apprentice jockey Ryan Ahmed in the Thungabhadra Plate run over a mile. The two market leaders Only Prince and Tuscano garnered good support at the start before the supporters of the winner went bang-bang and at the end Frenemee was close second favourite behind Only Prince who finished a tame third behind Tuscano in this whipless contest.

Jockey S John drove out Just Fabulous to an exciting win over Amazing Desire in the upper division of the Icebreaker Plate. Just Fabulous led all the way and John making free use of the stick kept him going to peg back the challenge of  Amazing Desire. Perfect Queen was third while the well backed favourite Princeazeem was never in the hunt.

In the lower division of the event, the  Lokanath-trained Sudha recorded a shock victory in the hands of G Adarsh who did well to drive the long shot home after John astride another outsider Romantic Heaven posed a threat in the final 100 metres.  Dancing Princess finished third while the favourite Blazing Faith failed to make the frame.

Kishan Thomas schooled  Kasauli had the best chance to score in the Karwar Plate and the favourite grabbed the big chance  to reign supreme in the hands of Prashanth Dhebe. Country`s Bloom in her effort to make every post a winning one failed to match strides with the winner at end and had to rest content with the second spot. Nijlon finished a game third and is one for the notebook.

Fioroloco from the stables of Samar Singh produced an upset in the Mekedatu Plate. Jockey Irvan Singh produced a copybook effort on the winner. Skybound finished a good second ahead of Slightly Blonde.