• Punjabi Girl wins The Fillies Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
  • Sir Cecil wins The Colts Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
By Epsom Ace
Saturday 17 Mar 2018
Trainer Rutherford Alford Leading Hartnell (Y S Srinath Up) Winner OF The Calcutta St. Leger (Gr.3)

Rutherford Alford-trained Hartnell proved beyond doubt that he is no mean stayer as he lifted the season’s last and longest classic – The Calcutta St Leger – with a degree of comfort, thanks to an intelligent piece of horsemanship by the vastly experienced YS Srinath. Gradually moving up the son of Western Aristocrat (out of Mother’s Pride) from the rear of the seven-horse field, Srinath gave his rivals the slip just after the turning for home, to win eventually by just over a length. In contrast, his nearest rival Alldero (Dashrath Singh up) was ridden in a haphazardly manner and paid the penalty. To make matters worse, the colt dropped his bit between the 1200m and 1000m markers and lost position drastically. Rather ironically, it was his giant stablemate Shohin who took the box seat behind pace-setter Panchovilla from the 1600m marker, which contributed partly to Alldero’s debacle. Dashrath was committed to the rails and could not extricate himself until it was too late. Having said that, all due credit must be given to Hartnell’s mentor who paraded him in the paddock in tip-top condition. His confidence in his ward was reflected on the odds board as it closed as the 18/10 favourite. Kudos to young Rutherford for delivering the goods with such confidence!

That rating is not a criteria in such races was proved by the filly Very Special who ended up a good third despite being rated the lowest at 43. Her breeding (China Visit-Star Supremacy) was the reason that she performed so admirably over an extended trip of 2800 metres. Her dam line (Razeen-Gourgandine) has an abundance of staying blood and this became evident as the race progressed..

Rutherford had earlier led in Sheer Force (Net Whizz-Celtic Manor) who made every post of the Regal Connection Cup a winning one in the hands of Srinath. The colt, who closed as the favourite,  had to be hard ridden in the final furlong to keep Coup De Grace at bay. Both of Rutherford’s winners are owned by Suchit Jayraj Shah.

The afternoon commenced with Shezad Khan riding an absolute blinder atop Bath-trained Glorious Run (Rebuttal-Beautiful Crown/ Hazara Stud). Available at 10/1, the gelding was held back for most part along the rails before being switched to the outside in the straight and forged a difficult passage through a packed field to get the better of Everglow who was in a clear position to pocket the race. City Heights finished on well to occupy the runner-up berth.

The two divisions of the Robin Hood Handicap were no-whips races. The withdrawal of Born To Win cleared the way for a duel between Amaranthus and Carpe Noctem.  However, as the gates opened, it became evident that it was going to be a one-horse race as Carpe Noctem (Surfrider-Princess Helen) shot out of the gates like a scalded cat to give apprentice Vikram an armchair ride. The lower division belonged to Vikash Jaiswal’s Dancing Prince (Ace-Dancing Greens) who closed as the favourite and made every post a winning one in the hands of PS Chouhan.

The race for The Royal Blue Handicap saw One Man Army set a scorching pace which threw favourite Arakawah out  of gear. It was left to James Mc Keown-trained Nobu (Burden Of Proof-Soviet Lake/ Kunigal Stud) to collar the front-runner, aided by some hrd riding from Trevor in the saddle. James Mc Keown brought the curtain down with a hard earned victory. His ward Rustler was ridden with great vigour by Dashrath to land the spoils. However, the race would have been undoubtedly won by Demonstrate with a reliable full-jockey to guide him. What was the necessity to declare a whip-less apprentice on  a bottom-weight who has been responding impressively to the stick ? More so, since the trip was merely six furlongs, which can be considered a trifle short for him. It was a technical error and the connections paid for it.