• Punjabi Girl wins The Fillies Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
  • Sir Cecil wins The Colts Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
By Epsom Ace
Friday 23 Feb 2018
Trainer Bharath Singh leading Sangfroid (Dashrath Singh), winner of The Dasho Lhendup Dorji Memorial Cup

Flamboyant visiting horseman Dashrath Singh completed a brilliant hat-trick of wins at RCTC on Friday in the last three races of the day. Dashrath’s winners were Panchovilla (7/2), Sangfroid (5/1) and Desert Falcon (5/1). The skilful jockey’s versatility was on display as all three winners were handled differently to get the best out of them. The afternoon’s proceedings also pleased the handicapper no end as there were seven close finishes in a card of eight events.

 Normally a front-runner, Bharath Singh-trained Sangfroid was waited with in the race for The Dasho Lhendup Dorji Memorial Cup. Sangfroid got the better of front-running speedster One Man Army in the final stride with Aquitania a close third. Panchovilla had to be hard-ridden in the home stretch to keep at bay heavily gambled The Big Bull while Desert Falcon made a start-to-finish affair of the 1200m sprint. Alshafa lodged a very valid objection against the winner for interference at the start but such objections are invariably overruled at this centre.

Objection: The senior stipe once had explained in an earlier discussion with this correspondent, that while such objections definitely hold water, interference at the start is a fairly common occurrence and once a precedent is set, it would then be imperative to uphold such objections. He definitely has a point. The important thing is that the playing field should be level for everybody. If the big guns can get away with a certain level of interference at the gates, then the small fry and apprentices should be allowed the same liberty. This has been the case thus far at this centre, and hence nobody’s complaining. However, riders who indulge in such an undesirable practice on a regular basis may be fined quite heavily for dangerous riding. There is ofcourse another option open to the guardians in such close calls. It may be wiser and fairer in the future to let the final decision hinge on the ultimate verdict. In this case the verdict was a mere ‘nose’ which with the naked eye would have probably been called a dead-heat. Hence, the connections of Alshafa may consider themselves distinctly unlucky. There could be a ‘thumb-rule’ that after such interference at the gates, any final verdict less than a neck may be up for serious consideration by the guardians of the game.

The afternoon commenced with Richard Alford-trained True Genius (Serious Spender-Top Romance) being ridden to a spectacular victory in the race for the Tokaido Express Handicap.  While the favourite Amaranthus was on a start-to-finish mission, Ranidan Singh atop the 8/1 shot was lying in mid-division. The sprinter picked up a sound gallop in the final furlong to get the better of his adversary in the final stride. The Alford family would have probably tasted another slice of success had not much fancied Heading Glory from Rutherford’s yard  burnt himself out in the race for The Star Flame Handicap. The failed favourite did not participate in any stamina-building races as True Genius and this may have cost him the seven-furlong race. He would have probably pulled it off had it been a furlong less. The race was picked up by the unpredictable Constance (Admiralofthefleet-Constantina/ Kunigal Stud) from Shafiq Khan’s yard with Ranidan Singh in the saddle.

The lower division of the Tokaido Express Handicap saw the favourite Shafer lose out narrowly to the seven-year-old mare Xipen (New Famous-Xray/ Yeravada Stud) from Javed Khan’s stable. Top-weight jockey B Mahesh who piloted the winner, completed a brace when he brought Deepak Karki-trained Logano (Ontario-Victoria Cannon) with raking strides from the rear of the field to land the spoils in The Royal Challenge Handicap.

In the first of the two mile races, The Mossy Bear Handicap, Christopher Alford atop Raunak Banerji’s Prolific Visit (China Visit-Prolific/ Usha Stud) rode a clever race. Permitting the front-runners to enjoy the limelight till the home turn, Alford and his mount sailed ahead thereafter but was subjected to a strong challenge from Prince Of Heart in the final furlong. However, Alford seemed to have the race well under control with about 100 metres left.

Panchovilla (Win Legend-Sunshine Nell/ Dashmesh Stud) was trainer Vijay Singh’s sole winner of the day. With Bharath picking up a brace, the month of March promises a keen contest between the two siblings for the champion trainer’s sash.

This piece would not be complete without a word of praise for the commentators who did a great job on this day in the absence of the regular callers Anit Casyab and Cyrus Madan.  Steward Enrico Piperno called six of the eight races cleanly and clearly despite “being totally out of touch” – in his own words. Considering that all the races had well packed fields, it was indeed creditable. This centre should be proud of the fact that two of the Stewards are extremely able commentators who are willing to lend a helping hand whenever required – the other Steward being none other than Cyrus J Madan.

Friday also witnessed rookie Albert Khare breaking out of the maiden ranks as a caller. The youngster is bound to get better in the years to follow, as he has several top-drawer mentors in this field to look up to.