Jockey Dashrath Singh rode a powerful finish on trainer Vijay Singh`s 7/2 favourite, Shivalik Shakti to win the 1,100m Regal Star Handicap, here, on Tuesday, the penultimate fixture of the season. The victory of the five-year-old mare also ensured a Dashrath`s lead, albeit marginal, over his fellow-professional, Christopher Alford, on the championship table. Trainers` championship is also posed for an equally exciting finish. Vijay enjoys a point`s lead over, brother Bharath.
Dashrath, however, had to make a liberal use of the stick on the winner, thanks to an inspired riding of apprentice P. Vikram, who sensed the maiden win of his career coming his way, on Star One, a long shot. Shivalik Story`s was a virtual pillar-to-post effort but the apprentice was unrelenting all down the straight. In the same race Alford failed to do anything worthwhile on his ride, Roman Flame, who was drawn on the far-side of the 14-horse field. The mare placed a far away third.
Early in the afternoon, Dashrath had guided trainer Narendra Lagad`s quiet fancy, Dragon Of War to another hard win in the 1,100m Cupid Handicap. It was again a start-to-finish tactic that paid off but the champion-in-waiting had to use all his skills, on the 5/1 shot, to defy the strong challenge of Altus (apprentice Jorawar), trained by another Mumbaikar.
Alford, however, was at his enterprising best on trainer Arti Doctor`s 13/10 favourite, Lady Two in the lower division of the 1,100m Saltarello Plate. Alford`s waiting tactics paid off on the New Famous filly who was conceding all around. Vijay`s Levante (Akash Rajput) also attracted a lot of sports in the race but the Burden of Proof daughter failed to keep the lead after taking the charge of running from the long time leader Aileen (Mohit Singh).
The upper division of the Saltarello Plate turned out to be a close affair between the father and son trained pair of Eastern Flame and Milford Sound. In the end, the senior Alford, Richard`s hot favourite, Eastern Flame, managed to thwart the Rutherford-schooled Milford Sound`s challenge by about a length.
Trainer Shafiq Khan`s long shot, Bang Bang (apprentice Ranidan Singh), recorded another victory – the horse`s back-to-back – as the five-year-old had a narrow measure of trainer Raunak Banerji`s new gain from the West, Joss (C. Alford), in the Astounding Handicap. The two horses fought a straight battle, almost from the start but the lead established in the home-stretch worked to Bang Bang`s advantage.
Trainer James McKeown`s I Told You Know (B. Mahesh) carried his top-weight of 61kg to a hard earned victory over Bharath Singh`s Blazing Bullet (Shailesh Shinde) in the 2,000m Topmost Handicap. The race looked like going either way until the final 150m but in the end McKeown`s strongly built colt held his ground to score by about a length.
There is nothing to write home about trainer Vikash Jaiswal`s winner, Jester (Akash Rajput) -- over Bharath Forest Dune (Shailesh) and the stable-mate, Studiofiftyfour (app. Nikhil Naidu) -- in the 1,200m Bold Gesture Handicap, for horses in the lowest class.