Jockey Akash Rajput timed his challenge perfectly to down the long time leaders Star One in the 1,100m Aerona Cup, on Wednesday, the opening day of the season. Trainer Vikash Jaiswal, who saddled the winner, a 7/2 favourite, in a seven-horse field, also lead in Jester (Akash), also a priced winner in another sensational finish. The afternoon also witnessed trainers Javed Khan and Shafiq Khan making it a profitable start to the short monsoon season with a double apiece while favourites, largely from Raunak Banerji`s stable, found the going tough, in spite of the masterly horsemanship of the champion jockey Christopher Alford.
Sporting Trainer looked a picture in the parade ring and it came as a surprise when the two in-a-row winner failed to muster support in the betting. The horse was, however, made to score a hard earned victory as Javed Khan`s quiet fancy, Star One, was ridden by apprentice Nikhil Naidu in a judicious manner, up-front, from the fall of the flag. Horsemanship is definitely in young Naidu`s blood and he was caught unaware by the late finishing Sporting Trainer after having maintained an arrow-like straight course in the home ward journey. Keep a strict watch on the rising star who is also looking quite matured. Also bear in mind that Star One went down to a better horse who may carry the winning penalty to another victory. In the same race trainer Bharath Singh`s Aquitainia needed the run and yet the horse placed a good fourth.
Vikash and Akash were back in the winner`s enclosure an hour later when Jester, a 5/1 chance in the betting, found the target in the 1,200m Alibi Handicap.
It was Bharath`s Rachmaninoff (Islam) and the 7/4 favourite Aberfran (Alford) who matched strides ahead, early in the race. Jester followed in a close attendance; waiting for the two leaders to run short of gas. It happened, precisely, a furlong from home. Jester won but just about, surviving a close threat from Bharath`s rank-outsider, Apsaras (Asghar) who unleashed an electrifying run in the final stages of the race.
Raunak`s another favourite, King`s Crown (Alford) had no reason to go to the start as a clear favourite in the 1,200m Sophisticated Lady Handicap but the magic of Alford is such. The race was won by trainer Shafiq Khan`s Bang Bang (apprentice Ranidan Singh) who meant business from the start of the race – galloping close behind Born To Win and the favourite. The end result was Bang Bang`s victory over a badly ridden Beach Game (Shezad Khan) while Half Volley placed third and the favourite was nowhere in the sight when the heat was on.
Shafiq`s Be A Star, also ridden by apprentice Ranidan Singh, downed two strongly fancied youngster – Alshafa (A. Imran Khan) and Tiberon (Hindu Singh) – in the 1,100m Glotik Plate. The 13/2 odds offered, on Be A Star in the betting, hardly justified the potential of the winner who had crossed swords with some of the best youngsters last winter.
Ranidan rode a waiting race on Be A Star and pounced on the tiring leaders in the final furlong.
Javed, on the other hand, notched up a quick double. He started off with the victory of a friendless, Colourful Dreams (I. Khan) in the day`s opener, the 1,100m Fairy Heights Handicap; which the horse won almost from the start – beating the Raunak-favourite, Achivolt (Aldord) and the top-weight Patrick Quinn`s charge, Coley (A. Imran) in a close finish.
Half-an-hour later, Javed was again seen leading in the western India migrant, Alien (Shezad), in the 1,100m Citi Limit Handicap. Honestly speaking, the race was served to Alien on a platter by jockey Afzal Khan, atop Words, who was taken all over the course before settling for a two-length defeat.
Trainer Quinn, who had been on the sidelines, for about two years for a drug related offence, opened his account in the 1,100m Sweet Senorita Handicap; which was claimed by his 5/2 fancied runner, Spear Of Trium (A. Imran). Incidentally, Spear Of Trium since his migration from the west, last winter, had more let downs to his credit than the winning stars. The horse had to be stretched to the fullest to beat Bharath`s Forest Dunes (apprentice Sujit Paswan).