Trainer Arjun Mangalorkar`s ward, Point TO Point (A. Sandesh-up) had an easy measure of his five rivals on his way to winning the 2,800m Queen Elizabeth II Cup, Saturday`s feature event. The 5/2 joint-favourite with trainer Vijay Singh`s runner, Shivansh (Suraj Narredu) who was likely to give a strong fight to Point To Point but the contest never reached to the expected lines. Suraj, however, guided Vijay`s other two favourites – Jaivant and Black Pearl – to victory in their respective events the 2,400m Malaysia Cup and the cash-rich 1,600m Calcutta Million. Vijay, in fact, scored three, thanks to Sandesh`s measured handling of Lesrel in the Metropolitan.
Expectations were high for a close contest between last year`s Queen`s Cup winner, Shivansh, and Point To Prove. At level terms, the two fine stayers had fought an exciting contest but the former had emerged victorious by a shade over a length. On paper, in the current edition, with the eight-kg pull at the weights, the outcome of the race was a foregone conclusion. Yet, Shivansh attracted pots of wagering at an equal measure.
Shivansh adopted his customary style of front running but looked under pressure inside the final 250m of the race. Point To Prove, too, followed his known style of running – a late dash, but was taken very wide by trainer Jasbir Singh`s lightweight Shivalik Sight (Rupal Singh), past the distance-post. Undeterred by such interference, Sandesh utilised Point To Prove`s better acceleration to shoot ahead, close to the far-side rail and sail away.
The tiring Shivansh, on the other hand, was totally out of steam and finished a bad last, and the stage was set for the old war warrior, Whomakestherules (Nikhil Naidu) to occupy the second berth.
Black Pearl was, once again, at his usual best, carving out his fourth straight win without raising a sweat to claim the 1,600m Calcutta Million. In fact punters were more concerned as to who will occupy the minor slots. The second berth went to trainer Jasbir Singh`s final entry, at the cost of Rs 4.5 lakh. The decision was appreciated, though the investment was huge, considering the winner`s purse of close to Rs 15 lakh.
The afternoon`s seven-event card was, in fact, ruled by favourites. The outcome of the 1,200m Metropolitan was also on expected line lines, thanks to the measured handling of Lesrel by Sandesh. In mid-division till the home turn. The 6/4 favourite got going to take the measure of the long time early leaders, Amorous White (app Sujit Paswan) and Lincoln (Nikhil Naidu), and also the late finishers – Amazing Response (Neeraj Rawal) Brainstorm (Shezad Khan), Perpetual Winning and (Imran Chisty) – all of them, barring Lincoln, were there in a blanket-finish, a shade over a length behind the winner.
Vijay`s both runners, Abhay Gama (C.S. Jodha) and Jaivant (Suraj), were fancied in the 2,400m Malaysia Cup and they performed in earnest measure. However, the better horse tuned to be Jaivant who chased the Abhay Gama till about the final 150m and led to score.
The 1,400m Portugal Cup was also keenly contested. Javed Khan`s 2/1 favourite Incendio (Chisty) narrowly missed the target, finishing third behind Bojangles (Jodha) and Vijay`s Moskova (Hindu Singh). The luck of early positioning in a big field of 14 runners always becomes a factor in such races, therefore, no one needs to be blamed.
Jodha had also claimed the 2,000m Portugal Cup, thanks to Shyam Habbu`s Classico growing wings on a big day. The horse made every post of the 2,000m race a winning one.
Finally, the 1,200m Phillipnes Cup that was an easy pick for trainer Christopher Alford`s Eastside, thanks to Trevor Patel who once again rode a well-judged waiting race to have the measure of the long time leader Fortune Express (Hindu) and Atom (R.S. Bhati).
Jaivant (Suraj Narredu up) winner of the Malaysia Cup
Classico (C S Jodha up) winner of the Portugal Cup
Bojangles (C S Jodha up) winner of the French Cup
Black Pearl (Suraj Narredu up) winner of the Calcutta Million (2019-2020) (Gr.3)
Point To Prove (A Sandesh up) winner of the Queen Elizabeth Ii Cup (Gr.3)
Lesrel (A Sandesh up) winner of the Metropolitan
Eastside (Trevor Patel up) winner of the Philippines Cup