Sharat Kumar trained Smile Stone who has been consistently finding the winning mark at regular intervals, asserted his supremacy in the 1200 metres Managing Committee Gold Cup, a race for horses rated 75 and above, the feature event of Sunday`s Bangalore races. The eight-year-old who was running for the 66th time in his career recorded the 12th win of his career.
Smile Stone is always in the line up whenever there is an opportunity to run in a sprint or a seven-furlong race. This explains the reason why he has run more times than perhaps any other horse currently racing in the circuit. The progeny of Juniper, Smile Stone had a forward run last week over seven furlongs and that run helped him a great deal against the opposition which had performed mainly in handicap races. Apprentice jockey M Naveen was astride the run and it must be said that the boy has struck a fine partnership with the horse. Smile Stone must be ridden in a particular way, allowed to relax in the rear and then alerted in the straight. Getting the timing of the challenge is of critical importance.
The speedy customers Chase Your Dreams, Booker Jones and Castle Key disputed to take the lead and these three runners came together into the homestretch, but none looked like breaking clear. Justice Angel showed up briefly, but it was clear for anyone panning the field that Smile Stone who was making his run from the rear of the field on the wide outside, would have his say. Smile Stone devoured grounds in his customary fashion and recorded a win by a margin of over two lengths. Kolkata challenger Occitan from the stables of trainer James McKeown who kept company with Smile Stone till turning for home had an inexperienced apprentice Vikram in the saddle. The progeny of Win Legend came home with a good effort but narrowly failed to get the better of Justice Angel and had to settle for the third slot. Life Awaits took the fourth position but the six-year-old reportedly burst his blood vessels.
Padmanabhan trained Isn`t She Lovely made a winning debut in the 1400 metres Southern Empire Plate, a race for maiden three-year-olds. The well-bred daughter of Excellent Art out of multi-classic winning In The Spotlight looked a picture of fitness in the paddock and came in for good support close to race time based on this perception. The odds on the ante-post favourite Air Command who had the benefit of a good forward run in winter shot up significantly with Different League attracting considerable attention. Though Isn`t She Special was not very brisk at the start, jockey Trevor brought her on the outside with a swift move to take a forward position. Game Changer who had the first run on the winner resisted Isn`t She Special before weakening. Isn`t She Special asserted her supremacy inside the final 100 metres and recorded a comfortable win over Different League who made a late rally. Game Changer stayed on to save place money.
The one-sided support for Knotty Ash in the1200 metres Ministerial Plate, a race for maiden three-year-olds, indicated the fact that the progeny of Gusto was well prepared to have a bold show. Knotty Ash stormed clear approaching the final furlong and went away for an effortless win over Into the Groove and Rajveer who faded out after being prominent.
While the race for the horses in the lowest category is the nightmare for punters, the authorities believe that it is this category of races that attract maximum attention and hence they believe in giving more races for this category much to the detriment of the promotion of the sport. This is the class where the maximum number of horses are brought down in the hope of bringing off a gamble and often, horses which haven`t been exploited suddenly perform against the run of expectations and cause an upset. In keeping with this trend, the 1100 metres New Market Plate looked a minefield though Dominic trained Smile of Courage was backed to the exclusion of the rest. Angelic Love held the initiative till the closing moments of the race with Smile of Courage hard-ridden to catch up. Even as Angelic Love appeared to have held her ground, Scorching who was loitering in the rear group for much of the trip suddenly found wings and flashed on the scene late to snatch the verdict from Grey Hound. Scorching had drawn blank for 673 days. Angelic Love was third with Smile of Courage was not far behind in the fourth position. The first four horses finished in a cluster.
The 1400 metres Dharmaprakasha L S Venkaji Rao Memorial Cup, a race for horses rated 45 to 65, saw Fair Game finally find the winning mark in splendid fashion. Fair Game had consistently figured on board though the seven-year-old mare had found it hard to pass the post ahead of the rest for 435 days. Jockey Ahsan Qureshi had Fair Game well placed in the second position as Attorney General bolted in the front which was detrimental to the prospects of the fancied runner. The pace at which Advocate General went in front he was bound to pack up and expectedly he came to a crawl in the straight. Fair Game who was in chase of the pace-setter then smoothly cruised into the lead and went away for a win by a widening margin of nine lengths. Golden Bow ran on to take the second position ahead of Summer Dawn. Fair Game perhaps relished the soft underfoot conditions which could be the reason for her runaway success.
Prasanna Kumar trained Capricious recorded an encore when he easily kept his rivals at bay in the 1400 metres Brig R C R Hill Memorial Trophy, a race for horses rated 30 to 50. The fancied runner was taken on a start to finish mission by jockey S John and the progeny of Gusto had no problem in staying there. There was competition for minor berths with Poseidon staving off on money favourite New Moon to take the runner-up berth. Agenta came up with a big effort from way off the pace to be an eye-catching fourth.
A big gamble failed to come off in the 1200 metres Holding Court Plate, a race for horses rated 15 to 35. Gold Mist was backed to the exclusion of the rest but the favourite found Imprimatur too speedy for comfort. Imprimatur who had the first run on his opponents enjoyed a good lead over his opponents and this held the lesser fancied runner in good stead as Gold Mist closed with a rush only to find the winning post coming too early for comfort. Imprimatur was ridden by apprentice Tejeshwar who was recording his first win. Mischief Flyer was in with a chance but failed to quicken when the race came to the boil and ended up a tame third.
Arjun Mangalorkar had two runners in the 1600 metres Astounding Plate, a race for horses rated 15 to 35 and as it always happens in this sort of a scenario, the one with the higher odds prevailed. Concept Win was the favourite and he came into contention at the top of the straight but had no answer when stablemate Casey Swooped on her. Casey went away for an easy win over Ravishing Snow who raced a detached last till turning for home. Reverence who finished third reportedly burst his blood vessels. Concept Win weakened to go out of sight.
Isn`t She Lovely (Trevor Patel up) winner of the Southern Empire Plate
Knotty Ash (S John up) winner of the Ministerial Plate
Scorching (R Anand up) winner of the New Market Plate
Fair Game (Ahsan Qureshi up) winner of the Dharmaprakasha L.S.Venkaji Rao Memorial Cup
Smile Stone (Naveen M up) winner of the Managing Committee Gold Cup
Capricious (S John up) winner of the Birg.R.C.R Hill Memorial Trophy
Imprimatur (P Tejeshwar up) winner of the Holding Court Plate
Casey (Neeraj Rawal up) winner of the Astounding Plate