• Punjabi Girl wins The Fillies Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
  • Sir Cecil wins The Colts Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
  • Sir Cecil wins The Kingfisher Ultra Derby Bangalore (Gr.1)
  • Desert God wins The Tetrasoft Inc. Bangalore St. Leger (Gr.2)
By Mahendra Mallya
Saturday 02 Sep 2017
Mr Sarosh Modi & trainer Faisal A Abbas leading Holy Smoke (C S Jodha Up), winner of The Akkasaheb Maharaj Trophy (Gr.3)

The Akkasaheb Maharaj sprint lived up to the hype and an interesting battle saw Holy Smoke edge out Dancing Prances in a close finish. Jockey CS Jodha, who has been a tad underrated over the years, rode out ably to hold the sprint champion at bay. The jockey showed skill and nerve to squeeze between horses and force his way through in the straight and got the Faisal Abbas trainee going at top speed at the business end.

Dancing Phoenix had a handy lead coming into the straight, but squandered the advantage rather too soon. Denny Crane was another one who could not sustain the hot pace, not being able to contend with horses passing him by from either side. Holy Smoke slipped past the two in front while Dancing Prances chose to mount his challenge from the outside. With a furlong to go, Holy Smoke held the slight advantage, not a decisive one, as Dancing Prances got into the act. However, Holy Smoke (Phoenix Tower – Little Treasure, Manjri Stud) galloped relentlessly to get the better of Dancing Prances, the veteran sprinter going down narrowly, fighting all the way. St Andrews just managed to poke his nose in front of Dancing Phoenix for the third spot.

Selfie Star (Excellent Art – Maharanee, Poonawalla Exhilaration Stud) displayed pleasing grace and power while demolishing the opposition and romping home for an authoritative victory. The only bit of concern for her supporters was the alarming rise in odds offered on the grey filly from trainer Dallas Todywalla’s yard. From around 10/7 on - ante-post, and an opening of even-money at race time, Selfie Star was offered at 2/1 at loading time. Goofy Eyes got backed down steadily and even Turning Point received some support in the ring. Despite this, the soaring price on Selfie Star was inexplicable and boy did she have the last laugh!

With Selfie Star’s backers still reeling from that apprehension, jockey Srinath did little to calm their nerves as Selfie Star fell back to the last position and stayed there until the final turn. Aloha faded out after leading the field of five for most of the journey. Dixieland took over but only by default. Turning Point shaped up well briefly as no sooner Selfie Star appeared, they all seemed plodding.

Jockey YS Srinath produced Selfie Star early in the straight as if on a test drive and when he touched the gas pedal, Selfie Star zoomed ahead in cruise mode and looked the winner long way from home. She outclassed what looked a pale set of hapless rivals as Selfie Star dazzled in the final furlong to impress one and all. Selfie Star loaded to 61 in the saddle and winning with the ease she did, certainly will be the top contender for the Pune Derby.  There is no question she would stay the longer distance as she displayed oodles of stamina to back her speed. With back to back victories in her Pune campaign, Selfie Star is a picture of fitness and trainer Dallas Todywalla certainly has a star in his string.

Dallas struck again with another favourite Goldie’s Pet (Arazan – Ramjet, Poonawalla Astonish Stud) who too scored a fluent victory justifying the support. After taking a good jump, Goldie’s Pet settled behind Arabelle who darted to the front. Arabelle set off at a scorching pace but could not sustain. Goldie’s Pet soon assumed charge on entering the straight and accelerated fluently. Triple Threat put in a good effort and pulled up close to Goldie’s Pet to makes things interesting, but Goldie’s Pet was up to the task and got stronger at the finish to thwart that attempt. Last start winner House of Commons ran on to rake in the place stakes without bothering the top two.

Ace jockey A Sandesh was the only other pro to score a double. He leant good support to hot favourite Miss Moneypenny (Excellent Art – Mufradat, Poonawalla Exhilaration Stud), his hard riding proving decisive in the duel with challenger Godsent.

Blazing Steps was doused after leading them up to the turn and soon Miss Moneypenny flexed her muscles to take command. Godsent brushed up quickly and soon got on to the tail of the favourite. The challenger did put a scare on the leader and they battled hard all the way to the wire. Sandesh was aggressive as he was assertive and eventually managed to keep Godsent at bay, guiding Miss Moneypenny to a narrow win. Lady In Red finished a faraway third.

Sandesh next win was akin to a cake-walk astride Gran Paradiso (Strategic Prince – Desert Trail, Nanoli Stud). Getting off to a good start, Gran Paradiso kept close to the front bunch that had Ridgewood Star in the lead with Quixotic and Lord Commander alongside Gran Paradiso. Gentillesse was behind this bunch and improved rapidly at the turn.

Gran Paradiso shot ahead on turning for home, while her companions in the bunch found it hard to stay with her. Gentillesse progressed and set herself to chase down the leader, however, Gran Paradiso was just warming up. The Hosidar Daji trained filly quickened smoothly to surge further and further away from her challenger. Sandesh this time had little to do as Gran Paradiso darted out of range to compile an easy victory with lots to spare. Gentillesse needed this run and should improve on the run. Aeolus Maximus covered a lot of ground to finish in the money. Camouflaged too improved well to figure in the frame. Airlift finished one off coming from a long way back and looked on his way back to form.

Malesh Narredu trained Lady Be Good (Arazan – Tootsie Wootsie, Villoo’s Greenfield Stud)proved too good for her more fancied rivals while picking up the first race of the day in style. The 7/1 shot galloped strongly in the straight to sew up the issue a lot earlier than expected.

Favourite Fortitude sent on a start to finish essay led until the turn with Swiftness and Lady Be Good constantly improving on the outside. Once in the straight, Lady Be Good simply bounded forward and marched on ahead to open up a decisive gap and galloped away to a convincing victory. Swiftness ran a decent second. Zanara was under pressure even before they turned for home and was urged all the way to end a far away third. Fortitude disappointed.

Tally Ho (Phoenix Tower – Watching You, Manjri Stud) logged his maiden win and the change of stables proved to be lucky. Turning out for the first time representing the Narendra Lagad stables, Tally Ho put his best foot forward to arrive with a blistering run in the final furlong and floor his opponents. Grappa shaped up nicely in the straight and even looked good to last it out all the way. Highland Princess was next, but labouring to get at Grappa. Tally Ho started to warm up nicely and produced a stunning run in the last 100 and came in with a steaming gallop to zip ahead a few strides from the winning post. Highland Princess managed to overhaul Grappa to end second.

Nirad Karanjawalla student Zanzibaar (Chevalier – Delta Port, Ruia Stud) won in the most thrilling finish of the day. It looked anybody’s race with a furlong and half to go as Arabian Storm, Firenze, Mount Mckinley and Zanzibaar were gathering momentum for the final run. Zanzibaar was perhaps the one who was not in the best of positions, awaiting an opening behind horses. Pacific Dunes was preparing for his final assault from the wider outside. With less than a furlong to go, this bunch was still closely huddled and going all out. Zanzibaar poked through between horses and Pacific Dunes accelerated extremely fast. The two dashed past the wire together with Zanzibaar getting the bob of the head right.

For the professionals, trainer Dallas Todywalla and jockey Sandesh scored a double each.