• Punjabi Girl wins The Fillies Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
By Epsom Ace
Friday 31 Mar 2017
Mr Waahiid Ali Khan & trainer Shyam S Habbu (Deputising trainer Narendra Lagad) leading Aamerican Agatta (Dashrath Singh Up), winner of The J J Stephens Memorial Cup

A clever piece of horsemanship by local ace Christopher Alford ensured a comfortable victory for Bharath Singh-trained Tweedle Dee (Juniper-Linette) in the race for the Snowdrift Handicap. Alford used the false rails (1200m – 400m) to good effect as he stole a march on his rivals after the turning for home by squeezing the 5/1 shot through a narrow gap between the front-runner City Heights and the rails in the straight.   He timed his run to perfection and the four-year-old gelding responded with great alacrity to make the victory appear easier than what it was.

In the day’s sole cup event, The JJ Stephens Memorial Cup run over six furlongs, Narendra Lagad’s Aamerican Agatta (Royal Gladiator-Lamplight) defied the 4.5 penalty for her last win effortlessly as she romped homed well clear of Praise Her Gaze and Fite Of Honour. Jockey Dashrath Singh had precious little to do except keep his mount on course for victory. Fancied runners Rustler, Scarlet Emperor and Mariska finished in the ruck.

Dashrath however had to pull out all stops in the day’s final event, The Retained Asset Handicap, to get the better of the course favourite All Rounder by the proverbial whisker. Doing duty astride Bharath Singh-trained Rabda (Ravel – Ekta Ekta Ekta), Dashrath followed pace-setter Sergeant Major till the bend and took over the running smoothly. The public choice was in fifth slot at that point of time and Neeraj Rawal had no choice but to take him five wide. But by that time, Dashrath had skated clear and held on to his fast diminishing lead by the skin of his teeth.

The afternoon commenced with the day’s biggest outsider as Vikash Jaiswal-trained Uptown Girl (Stardan-Here She Comes/ Rolli Stud) moved with giant strides from the rear of the field to get the better Cacherel and Bournville in the upper division of The Ardelis Handicap. In the lower division of the same race, the favourite Ivy fly-jumped and dropped jockey Sandesh at the gates.  B Mahesh on Daniel David-trained Hurricane Storm (Hurricane Center-Paddy’s Dasher) had to work overtime to keep at bay the fast finishing I Me N Myself.

In the Obolensky Handicap, the out-of-the-blue favourite My Freedom finished third after a tardy start. Christopher Alford made it a start-to-finish affair astride Bharath Singh-trained Super Striker (Arabian Gulf-Cocoanut Squeak/ Manjri Stud). Xipen was an utter disappointment in the race.

The Stringfellows Handicap was an interesting affair with 10 youngsters in the fray. Bath-trained Eternally (Western Aristocrat-Reforest) was the piping hot favourite and she was seen to struggle till into the straight. Under Neeraj Rawal’s urging, the filly finally raised a gallop – and lo behold – it was a gallop worth witnessing. She flew past the field and left Stellanova – who was shaping like a winner – standing in her wake.

In the very next race, The In The Spotlight Handicap, Vikash Jaiswal’s Sporting Trainer (Phoenix Tower-Star Qualities/ Manjri Stud) produced an encore. Apprentice Nikhil Naidu piloted him with great maturity. It was a ‘no whips’ race and that suited the winner to the hilt as he had given Sandeep Rajput an equally easy ride while recording his earlier triumph.