Racing can be unpredictable we know but the fact that it can also be funny at times came to the fore on Saturday. Funny as in that the outcome would leave pundits, handicappers, tipsters, et al red-faced as their assessments, theories and predictions — about a race or the horses taking part in it — go for a toss.
With only five runners in the fray for the Idar Gold Trophy (Gr.3), the general perception was that picking the winner was not that difficult. Of course, from among the five horses, some thought Hills and Stars would do it; others believed Macchupicchu would be hard to toss while there were a few who fancied the chances of Ocean and Beyond. Those who thought Native Knight had a chance were a bit hard to find and if there were any takers for Spearhead, they were sort of invisible. So be it, but Vijay Mallya`s property Spearhead (Burden of Proof – Imposing) took off from the gates with Ryan Marshall in the saddle and played catch-me-if-you-can with his four rivals over the mile-and-half trip. Macchupicchu, Hills and Stars, Ocean and Beyond and Native Knight ran in a single file till before the 600m-marker came. B. Prakash was the first to alert Macchupicchu and taking cue, A. Sandesh too changed gears on Hills and Stars. To the filly`s misfortune, C. Rajendra also brushed Ocean and Beyond to join the front bunch. As the four horses climbed the hill and were turning for home, Hills and Stars got squeezed out as Rajendra had brought his mount too close for the Sandesh`s comfort. The young rider`s problems were worsened when Native Knight ranged alongside to virtually drive the final nail in the coffin as far as the chances of Hills and Stars were concerned.
In the final run in, Macchupicchu tried overpowering Spearhead but S. S. Attaollahi`s ward refused to cave in and instead spurted to take a two length lead. After Macchupicchu it was Native Knight`s turn to threaten the leader and close behind him was Hills and Stars who had to skirt the four horses ahead to make her bid. But time had run out for both. Spearhead stretched out under Ryan`s whip and went on to record the biggest upset of the day. Native Knight just managed to hold on to the runner-up slot from Hills and Stars with Ocean and Beyond just behind. Macchupicchu ran last. That no one was at hand to lead Spearhead to the winner`s enclosure allows us to comprehend what chances Spearhead`s connections gave him of winning this event.
Apart from the shocker in the main event, there were a couple of more surprise winners. Altaf Hussain trained Sacred Soul (Placerville – Pre Eminent) showed an amazing turn of foot and that too in the hands of J. E. Pereira to overshadow Smooth Operator who enjoyed the lead briefly after passing favourite Apocalypse. The chances of ante post favourite Sterling Silver obliging looked grim as the odds against her widened for no apparent reason minutes before the start of the race. Yet again punters were to realise that the market forces are better informed than most of us. The mare ran an inexplicable fifth.
Later in the day, rookie rider Nikhil Bhujbal went along with the name of the filly which his master Narendra Lagad trained entrusted him with. Let It Fly (Mr Mellon – Free to Fly) literally flew in the straight and played party pooper for Prince, who had all but won the race. ItsMyWay reluctantly ended third ahead of Herzeliyah, who appeared to have saved her best for some other day.
Dallas Todywalla trained Home Alone (Glory of Dancer – Shockwave) was lesser fancied than Silk Cut, favourite Incognito and Salt but that didn`t stop the C. Rajendra ridden gelding from giving a drubbing to his opponents. After the rank outsider Daffodils had brought her younger rivals in to straight, both Salt and Home Alone joined the issue. Rajendra powered Home Alone to wrest the lead before Salt could dent his chances. Home Alone then kicked on to finish a length abreast of Silk Cut who failed to concede weight to the winner and was probably short of a run. Salt ended third after A. Sandesh astride Incognito found himself sandwiched between Daffodils and Silk Cut, the latter while making his bid went on to the favourite. Incognito dropped out as Sandesh was unable to give any assistance to his mount.
Adhirajsingh Jodha led in favourite Sumo (First Samurai – Special Tapestry) was hard-ridden by Imran Chisty keep beyond the reach of Saba who, as usual, took time in finding her rhythm in the straight. Mighty King ran a disappointing race. He may not have won the race but suffered a better position on the judge`s board purely due to the inexperience of his rider.
Trainer C. D. Katrak`s decision to run Belmont (Kings Best – Corbetta) over a mile-and-quarter trip paid off as the gelding just about scraped through after taking charge of the running opposite the stands. The winner veered out in the straight but lasted out to win from the late finishing Rodeo and Star Mountain. Favourite Admiral Stride ran nowhere.
Hosidar Daji`s candidate Walk of Life (Ikhtiyar – Cape Vaticano) defied the handicapper to win her second successive win in the hands of Malcolm Kharadi. She overwhelmed Adventurer who had assumed command in the straight. DaughterOfDestiny ended third ahead of Sizzling Love. Secret Magic was nowhere to be sighted in the finish.
Hormuz Antia had a popular brace of winners in Warrior Prince (Major Impact – Ghazwat) and Seen It All (Brave Hunter – Hungarian Rhapsody), both incidentally owned by him. The “reserved” status of the opening event went a long way in aiding Tushar Nemane ridden Warrior Prince`s cause as his connections and the moneybags reaped rich dividends through his form. Star Blessings chased him in vain while Twittillator ran in the money ahead of Tudor Regent.
Seen It All rallied well in the hands of apprentice Akshay and wore down runaway leader Towering High close home. Highway Express ran a fair third ahead of Wild Imagination.
Akshay, in the preceding event, piloted Mansoor Shah trained Golden Memory (Ontario – Extreme Contact) to a fluent win over Gloria, who appeared to be coasting for a well-deserved win. Roger Bcool took time in warming up to his task and ended third ahead of Marine Zone.