• Punjabi Girl wins The Fillies Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
By Epsom Ace
Wednesday 05 Apr 2017
Trainer Shafiq Khan leading Flanker(Ranidan Singh Up), winner of The Xisca Cup

The Calcutta Winter Meeting drew to a close on Wednesday amid cheers for some and tears for a few. Trainer Vijay Singh continued to reign supreme despite losing a major part of his yard mid-way through the season. That was indeed creditable. Western India’s crack rider Dashrath Singh left his mark on the Calcutta track as he got the better of Christopher Alford and was crowned the new champion jockey. Earlier a regular at the Vijay Singh yard, Alford was bound by contract and loyalty to ride for the Khaitan block which was shunted away from Vijay’s yard.  The performance of the same runners at the new stable did not live up to expectations. This might have cost Christopher the championship, as well as a six-week lay-off due to injury. But there’s no doubt that Dashrath was a deserving winner and one hopes to see him regularly at this centre.

The new kid on the block is apprentice Ranidan Singh who was the best of his peers. The lad ended the season on a thunderous note as he piloted Shafiq Khan-trained Flanker (Burden Of Proof-Track Charm/ Kunigal Stud) to a magnificent victory in the Xisca Cup. His closest adversary from among the apprentices was Nikhil Naidu who did extremely well throughout the season and looks like a star of the future. Unfortunately, the other apprentices failed to give their mentor Philip Alford anything to rave about. Trainer Arti Doctor however had much to cheer about as she led in 20 winners or so. ‘Horse of the season’ Taygetus was responsible for a quarter of that figure.

Top-weight rider Mahesh had a great final afternoon as he booted home the pair of Hurricane Storm and Avilome Vilome. Both returned comfortable winners at lucrative odds. Daniel David’s Hurricane Storm (Hurricane Center – Paddy’s Dasher) defied the penalty of 4.5kg to win the upper division of the Nikita Handicap as he liked. The lower division of the same race saw Nikhil Naidu and I Me N Myself (Noverre-Sexy Gal/ Sohna Stud) at their best. The Vikash Jaiswal-trained ward who failed as a fancied runner in Naidu’s hands in early November, finally came good on the last day of the season in great style. The six-year-old mare won by five long lengths from Sherwood.

Mahesh sealed his double with a good win astride Avilome Vilome. Though conceding a chunk of weight to Land Of Glory, Mahesh had no difficulty in overhauling the latter in the straight,  The five-year-old by Declaration Of War out of Victoria Rose is trained by Javed Khan.

The next race, The Own Ability Handicap, saw the upset of the day, as Vikash Jaiwal’s Uptown Girl  (Stardan-Here She Comes/ Rolli Stud) romped home well clear of fancied runners Aragon and Artificial. In their defence, it may be said that a riderless horse did cause a bit of apprehension in the straight (interference would be too strong a word), but there was no doubt in the end that they lost to a superior horse. Kudos to Jaiswal for setting right several runners during the season which failed in other yards.

Arti Doctor’s Flamsteed may well have won the next race of the day had jockey Christopher Alford not been a tad overconfident. After shaking off Sans Prix, it seemed that Flamsteed was headed for a comfortable triumph. However, man-of-the-moment Dashrath Singh astride Bharath Singh-trained Storm Front (Burden Of Proof-Quiet Storm/ Kunigal Stud) timed his run to perfection to get the better of Flamsteed close home.

The trend of the afternoon continued as Rutherford Alford’s Antiquarian (Dean’s Kitten-Ridiyza) upset all calculation to bag the Sabre Dance Plate in the hands of Anil Baandal. The lad rode an absolute blinder of a race to land the spoils and gives rise to the speculation just why he is not getting more winners at this centre.

Kanya Kalyan was the rage of the ring in the season’s last race, but she failed to impress. Rather aptly, Vijay Singh’s Fabienne (Dancing Forever – Noorain) romped home, clear of Miraculix. Neeraj Rawal guided the winner home in this ‘no whips’ race.