• Punjabi Girl wins The Fillies Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
  • Sir Cecil wins The Colts Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
By Epsom Ace
Saturday 17 Feb 2018
Trainer Farley Rodrigues deputising for James Mckeown leading Occitan (P Vikram Up), winner of The Mayor's Cup

Saturday afternoon was one that most punters would want to forget in a hurry as not a single totalisator favourite obliged in a card of seven races. Though Occitan was the antepost favourite in the Mayor’s Cup, a sudden spurt in betting on Outrider saw the former’s odds expand to 7/2. Multivalue remained steady at 6/1. The public choice Outrider lost all his chances at the starting gates as he was slowly away from the blocks. It was Multivalue (Kamble up) who threatened to pull it off after collaring Rigoletto in the straight but James Mc Keown’s filly Occitan (Win Legend-Aquitaine/ Dashmesh Stud) was cleverly piloted to a thrilling victory by able apprentice Vikram who opted for the shortest route home. After a tooth and nail tussle all the way down the straight, Occitan prevailed by the proverbial whisker.

Earlier in the day, jockey Kamble had tasted another narrow defeat when his mount Prancing Queen had lost position half-way through the race, only to move up with a late run to finish a close second to Wimbledon (Eljohar-Ruby Rouge/ Mukteshwar Stud). With all due respect to the rider, one can’t really comprehend the stable’s persistence with him astride such potential winners who are by no means easy rides. His debacle on Mocha Locha ealier in the season should have been a wake-up call for the connections. One can safely say that he would rate a flutter on any low-weight front-runner who is about three-lengths better than the field – but a tough ride is a definite no-no. Then again, as they say, the trainer knows best – so to each his /her own.

 Jockey Christopher Alford lifted the INS Hooghly Cup by piloting Raunak Banerji’s Big Star (Western Aristocrat-Knockenduff/ Yervada Stud) to a difficult win. Respect closed as the 2/1 public choice in the seven-furlong race for the INS Hooghly Cup but the five-year-old left his chances at the gates, only to finish fourth. Alford cut across the field and took up a box seat soon after the start to sit at the haunches of Indus Prince till the turning for home. Both Uncrowned King and Big Star made their move in the straight simultaneously but it was quite clear well before the winning post who the winner was going to be. His mentor had pumped in sufficient work into him after his airing run on day-one to ensure that his ward doesn’t fold up on this occasion.

However, Raunak’s other ward  - Romantic Lass – had the misfortune of bursting her blood vessel in the Navy Cup and ended up dead last. In a rip-roaring finish involving Praise Her Gaze and Celerino (Arazan- Chantale), the latter prevailed by a neck but had to win it once again in the Steward’s Room after an objection by the runner-up. Jockey Neeraj Rawal thus completed a hard-fought double.  The guardians were unanimous in their decision to overrule the objection.

The opening race, the 2000 metres race for The Balam Handicap, gave an indication of what was to follow in the afternoon. Robert Gowli’s 6/1 shot Arion (Chatham Strait-Lisianski) was guided expertly by B Mahesh to a deserving triumph over course favourite Secret Builder. Blazing Bullet was a fair third but was never really in the race. However, the temperamental gelding seems to have come to hand and will be worth keeping an eye on in the near future, though there does not seem to be any races of mile-and-quarter left in the season for the lowest category.

The PC Lall Of Nazargunj Memorial Cup saw the biggest upset of the day when Vijay Singh-trained Shivansh (Top Class-Immortal Story/ Mukteshwar Stud) got the better of piping hot stablemate Sniper. Jezzabelle was a tame third. Jockey Azharuddin was astride the winner which completed a treble for Vijay Singh. The curtain came down to the day’s proceedings with another thunderous finish when Hindu Singh brought Manvendra Singh-trained Happy Returns (Top Class-Anguilla/ Mukteshwar Stud) down the centre of the field with raking strides to get the better of Spallanzani close home.