• Ruffina wins The Sprinters Cup (Gr.1)
  • Azzurro wins The Dr M A M Ramaswamy Stayers Cup (Gr.1)
  • Whomakestherules wins The Maj P K Mehra Memorial Super Mile Cup (Gr.1)
  • Kangra wins The Indian Turf Invitation Cup (Gr.1) in record timing
By Mahendra Mallya
Thursday 11 Jan 2018
Trainer Nazak Chenoy leading Oracle (P Trevor Up), winner of The Indian Air Force Trophy

It was a mixed day for the followers of favourites as four firm favourites obliged in the eight-race card of Thursday’s races at Mumbai. The day started on an exciting note which saw a fierce fight between favourite Big Sur and longshot Vulcan fight neck-and-neck all through the final furlong of the 2400 m race, the General Obaidullah Khan Trophy, the day’s opening event.

Big Sur was heavily backed and Frivolous was next in demand. Vulcan (Sedgefield  - Shinning Force, Jai Govind Stud) was the longest priced runner among the four-horse field. Frivolous was quickest out and led the field all through the back stretch and until into the straight, before fading out of contention.

Vulcan, who was stalking the leader, soon took charge and jockey Imran Khan got the Adnirajsingh Jodh ward going no-sooner they entered the straight. Big Sur started to get down to business and was drawing closer to Vulcan. They fought stride for stride approaching the distance post and at one time Big Sur seemed to have it covered when he put his nose just in front past the stands. Vulcan was not done yet as jockey Imran Khan put in a never-say-die effort and got Vulcan to dig deeper. Vulcan responded with a terrific finishing gallop and just managed to nose out Big Sur in a tight finish.

Oracle (Phoenix Tower – Age of Magic, Manjri Stud) put in a net start-to-finish essay to pull off a facile win and claim the Indian Air Force Trophy with a measure of comfort. The Nazak Chenoy trained gelding was off to a quick start and led the field comfortably all the way.

On turning for home, Oracle galloped freely out in front and let the others do the catching up. Double Nine moved swiftly between horses to progress well but could not make an impact on the leader. Wise Child moved up from the outside and although Wise Child looked prominent, he too did posed no threat to the winner. Oracle drifted out but was safely ahead galloping on to win with something to spare. Wise Child would benefit from this run and can strike soon over the same scurry.

Vishal Gaikwad trained Auburn – (Champs Elysees – Atwirl, Highgrove Stud) scored an impressive gate-to-post win and looks good for more. She sailed into the lead soon on start and never looked back. Once in the straight, Auburn was speeding off from the rest at a good clip and looked in fluent rhythm as she pulled off a sensational win with minimum effort. Gloriosus chased the winner all through without posing any danger to the winner. Grande Vitesse who finished on third, also put in a decent run and should do well among horses his age.

Pioneer (Phoenix Tower – Riyasat, Manjri Stud) took a while to warm up and once he came to terms after running a bit green, the Malesh Narredu trained colt breezed past favourite Oomph in the closing stages to pull off a dramatic win in the final few strides.

Oomph led the field right from start and once they turned for home, she looked right on course to bring about her maiden win. She was well clear of the rest past the distance post and even Pioneer, who had moved to second, looked a touch jaded on his debut. However, Oomph came under the stick with about 100 to go and then with a sudden surge, Pioneer picked up momentum. Jockey Suraj Narredu arrived with a rush and soon Pioneer started to show his dazzling speed, tearing away with a good burst to zip ahead and core a memorable debut win. Oomph was beaten by a better horse on the day and should not be too disappointed; her turn could be just round the corner.

Grand Accord (Dream Ahead – Glebe Queen, Hazara Stud) ably ridden by jockey Imran Khan, made his own pathway to emerge from the inner railing switching lanes by the stride and surfaced to take a winning lead in the last 100 meters which helped thwart the late bid that came from favourite Khartoum.

Bishop of Derry brought the field homewards with Jeena in second making no impression on the leader. Grand Accord moved along the rails with Wabi Sabi in the middle flanked by horses, Marvel and Sumaaq were on the outside with Khartoum picking up speed.

Grand Accord made the first decisive move and pounced on the leader and surged into the lead. Wabi Sabi got squeezed, clipped the horse in front and dislodged the rider SA Amit. Fortunately Amit escaped injury and is under observation only and has been advised a couple of weeks’ rest.

Grand Accord was being ridden out hard when Khartoum started to draw closer. Grand Accord had the momentum going and that helped ward off the fast finishing Khartoum, Grand Accord achieving his maiden win on his fourth outing. Khartoum missed out narrowly, but his late blitz is encouraging and he too should be able to notch his win this season.

At the behest of the stipendiary stewards, a Stewards’ enquiry was called for but the ‘winner is involved’   bit was surprising. It didn’t appear Grand Accord was in anyway responsible. The Stewards so nothing in it to implicate the winner either and the order of placing remained unchanged.

Roosevelt (Power – Senetta, Nanoli Stud) sailed through in the second half of the homestretch to secure a smooth and clinical victory in the upper division of the Rao Saheb DK Parkar Trophy. He never really bothered about positioning nor hurrying up in the straight, making his move on his own terms and then pitching ahead when he wanted. The bunch of horses around him simply looked pedestrian when Roosevelt with Probert astride, broke through the bunch of horses and shot ahead in the final furlong. He stretched away from the rest and was clearly cut above the rest. Eight year old Backstreet Bay did well to follow her last start victory with another good effort finishing runner-up to Roosevelt.

The lower division of the race was won by Gold Field (Sedgefield – Fort Knox, Jai Govind Stud), this one in a close finish. Gold Field led all the way and had a handy lead coming into the straight. Angel’s Harmony and Make It Shine were the closest behind. Jockey DS Daman was focussed on the task at hand and rode out Gold Field with vigour. Angel’s Harmony blinked and fell back, while Make it Shine drew closer to Gold Field. The pair fought out the last 100 meters with Gold Field holding on to stay ahead at the wire.

Polyneices (Mull Of Kintyre – Perfect Polly, Bhaktawar Stud) pulled off a neat start to finish while galloping to his maiden win on his ninth start.  He looked solid coming into the straight and chief rival Epiphany chased the winner finishing a tame second. Skysurfer got the third place, which was lucky as Star Anise could easily have finished third if not taken out wide by Night Fury at the bend.

For the professionals, trainers Adhirajsingh Jodha and Vishal Gaikwad saddled a double, while jockey Imran Khan scored a double as well.