• Punjabi Girl wins The Fillies Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
  • Sir Cecil wins The Colts Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
By Ikram Khan
Sunday 25 Jun 2017
Mr Zeyn Mirza & trainer Bharath Singh leading Castlebridge (C Alford Up), winner of The Colts Championship Stakes (Gr.1)

The local classic hopefuls disappointed most in the second classic of the season, the Colts Championship Stakes. More than four Bengaluru-based colts including the favourite Tutankhamun from trainer Satish Narredu’s yard were in with a big shout, but it was the 15 to one chance Castlebridge from Kolkata’s leading pro Bharath Singh’s yard, who emerged the champion colt, making every post a winning one in the mile long classic journey.

Kolkata champion saddle artiste Christopher Alford produced a near-perfect performance on the winner, judging the pace he set to a nicety. The Vijay Mallya camp spearheaded by Zeyn Mirza, it is needless to mention were delighted with the result. They in fact fancied Capo Di Capi in the classic but the pleasant surprise from the East provided the Mallya think-tank a big reason to smile.

After the 15 top colts came under the starter’s flag, Alford pushed Castlebridge to the front and set a decent pace all through the mile long trip. The public choice Tutankhamun followed the leader while the other fancied contestants struggled to gain a favourable position before the 15 negotiated the final curve. The Chennai challenger Chief Of Command drawn (15) failed to move up early and the Arjun Manglorkar ward Olympia Fields, who was also drawn badly (14) also got stuck in the rear.

With the two losing out in the first furlong itself and Apache Sunrise and Capo Di Capi struggling to keep pace, Tutankhamun appeared to have the best chance to overhaul the leader. But he just could not bridge the gap the moment Alford packed punch on the Bharath Singh ward. The winner kicked clear at the distance post and though Perfect Star from Mumbai-based pro Karthik Ganapathy’s yard was seen covering good ground towards the end, Castlebridge hit the post first. Olympia Fields did well to take the third spot despite gracing the wrong end of the field for most part of the journey while Tutankhamun came home a poor fourth.   

The Pradeep Annaiah camp strongly fancied Topspot to score in the Elusive Pimpernel Trophy after his suggestive performance in his last essay. Topspot in the hands of Suraj Narredu justified the confidence reposed in him, cruising home without unduly being extended. The Neil Darashah schooled Goldberg was fancied most, but he failed to match strides with the winner, who was just too good on this day. Saladin raced in patches and it will pay to follow this Imtiaz ward in the weeks ahead.

Earlier Neil Darashah-trained Ambleside fancied sweetly by the insiders and the right connections  came up tops in the M Ali Asker Memorial Trophy, warming up in time to snuff out the challenge of China One and Hedwig close home.  The runner-up has improved and it will not be long before this Parvati ward earns his winning bracket.

The Sulaiman Attaollahi schooled bred in the purple colt Shaman, another from the Kunigal Stud Farm, the leader in the business proved too good in the Camino Plate run over a distance of nine furlongs. The winner toyed with a good seasoned performer Star Cracker and on the strength of this performance has stormed into the classic scene. Star Cracker did produce his best but found Shaman too hot to handle. This Prasanna ward, who looked a picture of fitness at the paddock will earn his cornbill in his next start.

Young Dheeraj Venkatswamy led in his third winner in his first season, Astral Spirit edging out Alvarez in a thriller in the opening event. While the other five who got the go ahead to train from summer are struggling, Dheeraj has made his mark and promises to add to his kitty in the weeks  ahead.

 After twice finishing third, Ultimate Magic from Darius Byramji’s yard looked one safe bet in the Richelieu Plate. A confident Srinath took his time on the Darius ward before he  setalight the public choice and Ultimate Magic responding gamely to her master’s call sped through to score in convincing fashion. The run-away leader Duke Of Norfolk and Raw Gold dead-heated for the second spot while the Kolkata hopeful Antiquarian who was running down the field finished a creditable fourth.

The Mallesh Narredu-trained Heroine started the favourite in the concluding event, the Fantabulous King Plate before money came pouring in on the Irfan Ghatala ward Apalachee and the favourite helped the Mallya camp sign off in style despite Trevor Patel taking a nap before the post. Trevor in fact was lucky that he was not caught napping by Chouhan astride another Kolkata runner Mahasuvi who finished on fastest at end. Heroine in her pillar to post attempt went out of gas in the final furlong and only managed to save place money.