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OCCITAN LIFTS MANDOLIN CUP IN A TIGHT FINISH
KOLKATA
By Epsom Ace
Saturday 07 Oct 2017
Trainer J E Mckeown leading Occitan (Hindu Singh Up), winner of The Mandolin Cup

Trainer James McKeown’s Occitan had to fend off a strong challenge from Storm Front before she could claim the Mandolin Cup at RCTC on Saturday. In the final furlong of the 1400m race, jockey Hindu Singh had to pull out all stops to be a half-length ahead at the wire. Tracking Aileen till the distance post, Occitan (Win Legend-Aquitaine/ Dashmesh Stud) shot ahead but was soon challenged by Storm Front. The duo fought it out till the finish with Occitan justifying her favouritism.

Trainers Vijay Singh and Javed Khan notched up a brace each while the sole rider to achieve that distinction was apprentice Nikhil Naidu who is on track for bagging the ‘best apprentice’ title this monsoon.  The young apprentice may well have got a third winner astride Big Star (earlier named Protector Of Troy) had not Christopher Alford atop the favourite Beatles Bible come with a second wind and pipped him at the post.

The afternoon commenced with a 2000m race. The outsider of five Zandra tried to make it a start-to-finish affair and was travelling well till the bend where she was challenged by the favourite Desert Cat, Very Special and Bubbly Bellini. There were four of them in a line till the final furlong when the two handicap horses Very Special (China Visit-Star Supremacy/ Usha Stud) and Zandra pulled away with the former travelling the better of the two. Aprrentice Ranidan Singh 

The withdrawal of Javed Khan-trained Raqs Sharqi in the Appolotina Handicap opened up the small field considerably. The odds of three horses fluctuated as they were all being backed. These were Xlite, Heliconia and Ahlan. Showing her keenness to take up the running from the outset, the light-weight filly by Sussex out of Bling (Pratap Stud) was held in check by Nikhil Naidu before making his bid in the straight. Javed Khan-trained Xlite won well from rank outsider Secret Builder while the other two fancied runners succumbed meekly to their younger rival. 

The first of Vijay Singh’s winners was Everglow (Top Class – Eternity/ Mukteshwar Stud) who was hard-ridden by top-weight jockey S John to pocket the sprint for the Bourbon Queen Handicap. Both Serendipity and Lucky Streak tried their utmost but were undone by John’s power-packed finish.

Both Vijay Singh and apprentice Naidu completed their individual doubles when they teamed up with Fury (Burden Of Proof-Sugarbird/ Kunigal Stud) and brought home the bacon in the Arapahoe Handicap.  The chestnut filly made every post a winning one with Midnight Magic issuing her challenge in the straight. Heavily gambled Ambleside was ambling along to finish fourth after a tardy beginning as she is wont to do.

There was a keen duel for the Make My Day Plate. The favourite Beatles Bible (Burden Of Proof-Besame Mucho/ Kunigal Stud) looked a winner in the straight till challenged by top-weight Big Star who did show out near the distance post. However, C. Alford had the last word as he found something extra in the colt’s reservoir to grab the winning berth at the post.

A shade surprisingly, top-weight Dark Gold was installed as the firm favourite in the day’s final event, the seven-furlong race for the Azureus Handicap. However, it was Harvinder Singh Bath’s Demonstrate (Sedgefield – Dixie Dahlin/ Jai Govind Stud) who took home the honours quite easily. The favourite moved up well from the rear of the field to occupy the runner-up berth and may be noted for early success during the forthcoming winter meeting.