• 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
Saturday 10 Feb 2018
Dr Cyrus S Poonawalla leading Ruffina (David Allan Up), winner of The Dr. S C Jain Sprinters' Championship (Gr.2)

There were two top class fillies in the two Grade II races on the day, both at crammed odds. One sailed through with a crushing win and the other suffered a crushing blow dealt by a gritty lone opponent. These two races were the talking point on Saturday’s Mumbai races.

Ruffina (Excellent Art – Lady Danehill, Villoo’s Greenfield Farm) has been the darling of the crowds ever since she treaded on the turf in December 2016. And she has earned the respect and awe of her fans on pure merit and dazzling performances consistently.  She now has seven smashing wins from eight outings, latest being the DR SC Jain Sprint Championship (Gr2). Her only loss was in the Indian 1000 Guineas (Gr1) when she ran a close third to Lady In Lace, over the mile, which many considered was not her optimum distance.

Back on track subsequently, Ruffina made a smashing return to winning ways when she pulverized the strong set of opposition to win the Darashaw Million in breath-taking style. On Saturday she again displayed scorching speed, this time coming from way behind to collar them all and win by a decent margin to claim the DR SC Jain Sprinters’ Championship (Gr2) adding another huge number of fans to her long list.

Although she was only at half-money in the betting ring, Ruffina was backed very heavily in the betting ring. For the first time she must have caused some anxious moments to those who wager on her as she was not in a prominent position for most part of the race, sitting in last position discounting Celtic Prince who was never prominent.

Lincoln entered the straight as sweetly as they can get and travelled beautifully past the 400. The rest were struggling to even stay close to Lincoln. Ruffina switched lanes and jockey David Allan rode out confidently.  Ruffina is a beauty to watch at the business end. She looked air-borne, her hooves barely ‘ruffling’ the turf to leap forward and in a trice she had added distance between herself and Lincoln, winning the race by a little over two lengths in a smart timing of 1:09:606. She was accorded a rousing ovation when being led in by her trainer Dallas Todywalla.

Temerity too is used to such warm reception many times but on the day she faltered badly and during her walk back had to deal with the embarrassment of the being howled and heckled by the racing crowd.

Trevor had the measure of the race and the pace alright. B Fifty Two always likes to lead from the start and this time too he donned his front running role. However, he also ensured his mount B Fifty Two had a lot left in the tank for the homestretch. Temerity didn’t let her lone opponent out of the zone and galloped just about two lengths behind all through and nothing looked amiss as they turned for home. People in the stands were perhaps waiting the moment when Temerity would gather momentum and cruise past the leader. That never happened!

B Fifty Two (Phoenix Tower- Baileys On Line, Manjri Stud) kept galloping at a good clip and somewhere approaching the 300m post, jockey Neeraj Rawal must have realized he had a task was not as easy as it seemed. He had a serious battle on hand as B Fifty Two showed a lot of resolve and sustaining his grip on the lead. Temerity was gaining ground, but not fast enough as the winning post was getting closer rather too quickly for Temerity. With about a while length to cover with only 100m to go and with B Fifty Two battling gamely, it was too much for even Temerity to peg back the leader. Eventually she had to give in losing out narrowly at the finish. All credit to the B Fifty Two for this ‘giant killing’ display and kudos to trainer Imtiaz Sait for keeping B Fifty Two in such good shape and fitness despite turning out the six-year-old gelding within a week of a hard race just six days earlier.   

Jockey P Trevor scored a fine treble on the day as he rode with aplomb two other winners besides B Fifty Two. He guided Celestial Light (Rebuttal – Angarika, Hazara Stud) to victory in the very next race, beating on-money favourite Chaplin with a measure of comfort. Trevor improved positions at the turn and made steady progress in the straight.

Arabain was fighting a losing battle as Hopeilicious snatched his lead away. Soon Chaplin and Celestial Storm joined the battle with a furlong and half to go. Celestial Storm poked through between horses and sped away even before Chaplin could throw in his challenge. Celestial Light drew away in the final few strides to post a comfortable victory. Chaplin caved in as he was carrying the top weight and that must have undone his effort. Debutante Aberlour had a good educative outing and he did well to ending a noteworthy third.

Trevor signed off with a fluent victory astride Epiphany (Phoenix Tower – Merwaha, Manjri Stud) for trainer Nazak Chenoy. The prime fancy was in the front bunch that was led by Malavika and Stunner going for each other. Epiphany arrived with a big gallop from the outside and swooshed past the fighting duo with ease. Once in the lead, Epiphany darted further away to sail out of reach and score a convincing victory. Cherry Blossom ran on to finish a good second, beating Stunner and Malavika to the minor slots.

Daffodil (China Visit – Hills And Stars) won the opening race of the day prevailing in a keen finish warding off a stiff challenge from Eternal Sunshine close home.

Square Moon led them all the way into the straight and soon Daffodil took over as Square Moon reluctantly and fighting all the way. Eternal Sunshine too fought bravely and got to the haunches of Daffodil. However, David Probert rode her out astutely to stay ahead at the wire and pull off a narrow win. Favourite Odessa ran well below par and was never in contention.

Van Dyke (Kingda Ka – Laserre, Nanoli Stud) pulled off a sensational win on debut stretching out gamely in the final furlong to win by a widening margin. Favourite Unimaginable shot into the lead and held the guard until the final furlong. Van Dyke, who was on the tail of the leader all through, opened up with a nice burst of speed to start tearing away from Unimaginable. He strode away with giant strides to pocket the race way before the winning post. Unimaginable found one better, but looks a good type who should score soon.

Moonshine (Rebuttal – Crosspatch, Hazara Stud) returned to winning ways and took his win tally to three this season. The Karthik-trained filly has been consistent of late and she picked up smooth acceleration soon on entering the straight. She zipped ahead of leader Lady In Red soon on turning for home and then sped away in an instant to sew up the race long way from home. She galloped majestically in the final furlong to steer clear and with no threat looming around, jockey Bhawani Singh eased the filly well before the winning post. The fight was on only for the minor slots with Aurelia finishing just ahead of favourite Roosevelt.

Star of Thea (Excellent Art – Lady Angharad, Villoo’s Greenfield Farm) compiled a neat start to finish victory. This was his maiden win and on his eight start. He surged into the lead soon on start and held a handy lead all the way into the straight. Star of Thea got able assistance from jockey TS Jodha who was persistent with the Narendra Lagad ward, keeping him going all the way through the long Mumbai straight. Favourite Ebony moved to challenge at one point, but just could not quicken enough. Tessa kicked on to take the place money.

For the professionals, trainer Imtiaz Sait saddled a double, while jockey P Trevor rode out a fine treble.