• Punjabi Girl wins The Fillies Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
  • Sir Cecil wins The Colts Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
By Mahendra Mallya
Sunday 14 Jan 2018
Trainer S K Sunderji leading Rochester (C S Jodha Up), winner of The Ramniwas Ramnarain Ruia Gold Cup (Gr.2)

“It’s never over until it’s over,” goes an ancient cliché in sport and how true that is! In one of the most stunning upsets in recent times, Rochester (Phoenix Tower – Krasnaya, Manjri Stud) pulled of a major one in beating star colt Castlebridge by a big margin to claim the Ramniwas Ramnarian Ruia Gold Cup (Gr2).  

Castlebridge’s tactics went awry when least rated Grand Passage who seemed over keen to go for the early lead and at a hot pace. Trevor would have been better off letting the lowly rated Grand Passage go as far as he wanted to and wait for him to pack up. Trevor may have been taken by surprise and didn’t seem to have a Plan B in place. He went chasing Grand Passage and the first half of the 2000m race was cut in under a minute. That perhaps took a bit out of Castlebridge and when challenged by Rochester Castlebridge was found struggling to keep up. Rochester, trained by Shiraz Sunderji and ridden by CS Jodha was full of steam in the final furlong and broke away from Castlebridge to pile up more than five lengths at the winning post.  

Ruffina displayed her known dazzle and was back to being herself while winning the Darashaw Million in style. She obviously had put her Guineas loss behind and won this one with yet another blinding gallop at the business end.

Ruffina was in the mid-bunch on settling down with Celtic Prince showing good early speed to head them all into the straight. Celtic Prince galloped further ahead in the straight opening up a good lead, but the others started to catch up soon.

Ship Rock was well poised but was over powered by Your Royal Majesty and Dancing Prances was making his move along the rails. Ruffina switched out by David Allan, got going the moment the jockey alerted her and she unleashed a terrific burst that floored them all. Ruffina vanquished the opposition completely and even this star-studded set of rivals looked pedestrian with Ruffina’s scorching burst of speed, the two and half kilo over she was carrying notwithstanding. Ruffina proved yet again that she is special and her next target would obviously be the Sprinters’ Cup. I just might be tempted to pitch her for the Super Mile the following day, after witnessing her blinding finish in this tough set.

David Allan had earlier guided debutant Divine Power (Arazan – Amazing Ray, Poonawalla Exhilaration Stud) to victory and had it not been for David’s early surge forward, it may have not been such a happy ending for the camp. Buddyholly led them into the straight and bowed out as Divine Power arrived with a swift gallop and shot into the lead early in the straight. The Altaf Hussain ward was on course to what looked like a facile win, but Cormorant suddenly picked up speed and finished on with a splendid run and almost shocked the winner on the post, falling short by just under a length. Cormorant ran a bit green but showed enough promise to note her in her net outing.

Fine Tune (Mull of Kintyre – Farmers Swing, Bhaktawar Stud) was well supported in the ring and she didn’t disappoint. Settling quickly behind leader Abraxas, Fine Tune took charge midway up the straight and raised a fluent gallop in the hands of apprentice jockey Zeeshan to draw away from her rivals in the final furlong. Sparkling Thea kicked on to take the runner-up slot. Till End of Time did well to recover from a tardy start to improve considerably in the straight, finishing a note-worthy third thus saving the place money.  

Sagittarius (Arazan – Glorious Breaker, Villoo’s Greenfield Farm) galloped to a neat start to finish victory showing good staying prowess over the mile and quarter trip. Jockey Dashrath Singh eased the Sanjay Kolse trainee into the lead and dicated the pace right from start. Once in the straight, Sagittarius quickened well to steer clear of competition and win with a good margin. Adonijah gave it all yet could not put up a decent fight but hung in there to claim the runner-up berth just a shade ahead of Its a Deal. Sagittarius was clearly superior over the distance and won comfortably. 

Flag Flying (Whatsthescript – Shockwave, Nanoli Stud) took off quickly from the gates and kept the momentum going all the way through to the winning post to post an impressive start-to-finish win. It was a tough bunch of horses he was taking on and jockey Bhawani Singh rode out the Antia trained filly to his second career win. Flag Flying galloped resolutely once in the straight and left his rivals far behind and never looked in any danger at any stage. Triple Threat ran on to end a faraway second ahead of Moonshine, the latter improving from the mid-pack to end with the money.

Rehanullah Khan trained Reds Revenge (China Visit – Tarnished Lady, Greentree Stud) fought well in the final furlong to come from behind and surge ahead of Ebony to score his maiden victory on his 12th start. Keeping within touching distance to the front-running Nightfall and Alsace, Reds Revenge made a decisive forward surge well into the homestretch.  Favourite Sassy Lass was off slowly and paid the price. Inittowinit the next in demand found himself in all sorts of trouble inside the homestretch getting blocked for passage and could not wriggle out at all. Ebony had barely gone into the lead when Reds Revenge came charging down at her. Red Revenge won readily as he whizzed past Ebony to score a memorable win. Ebony was a gallant second and should get her day soon.

The concluding event on the day saw a three-way finish and was a perfect conclusion to an eventful day. Man of Word led them into the straight and was kicking on ahead. Rotterdam was moving up places and there was tussle and jostle as Elixir joined the pair in front. The three of them fought hard and in the end, Elixir (Varenar – Tonique, Equus Stud) got that lil bit extra out and won it by a neck. Rotterdam may have been done in by getting squeezed between horses and will live to fight another day. Man of Word ended with the two to finish a gallant third.

It was indeed an eventful day with the Armed Forces putting up a grand show at the Mahalaxmi racecourse. An array of weapons was on display inspiring awe among the racing fans. Their personnel also demonstrated variety of combat techniques which kept the crowd spellbound. The show put was excellent and ended with a group of boys then performing gymnastic acts and finally the Army band playing amidst a march past.