Trainer Bharath Singh`s filly, Zoya (Dashrath Singh-up), won the 2,400m Calcutta Oaks, on the New Year`s Day. It was courageous effort by an out and out stayer, by Multidimentional out of Yana, who led from the start to score with an authority. The fact that pandemic had sent all plans of the Classic aspirants for a toss but the toughest ones have managed to survive. A gap of less than three weeks between the 1000 Guineas and the Oaks was itself a challenging one but under the compelling circumstances, there was hardly a choice.
For a fifth-place horse, in the 1000 Guineas, it was illogical matter to get support in the betting ahead of those who performance creditably. Therefore, 10/1 odds offered on Zoya hardly came as a surprise. The stoutly made Zoya, with a body-weight of nearly 490kg was, therefore, taken to the front from the very start -- with Namki (C.S. Jodha), Violin (Y.S. Srinath) and Silver Bracelet (Hindu Singh) in the tow. Zoya was never under pressure event when turning for home while the rest in the field, though closing up marginally, were off their bridles. The brave-hearted filly Zoya, kicked away from the field, inside the last furlong as the tiring lot gave way to the late finishing James McKeown`s filly Apsara Star (A. Sandesh) to occupy the second berth.
The 1,200m Indian Produce Stakes, another prestigious event in the frame of eight, was claimed by trainer Vijay Singh`s favourite, Jake (Sandesh). Jake waited behind the stable-mate, Galen, who build up a healthy lead, and was followed by Bharath`s Joanna (Dashrath). Jake pounced on the early leader, inside the final 250m, to score comfortably, presenting Vijay his third winner of the afternoon.
Vijay`s winning streak had started when a less-experienced apprentice, Habib Alam, guided the 11/12 chance, Gaurish, to an easy victory in the 1,200m Anoropov Handicap. The apprentice held back Top Class son, in third behind Namak Halaal (Nikhil Naidu) who was followed by a heavily fancied Kilkarry Bridge (B.L. Paswan), with another fancied runner Sullivan (Srinath) abreast. Galloping four-deep, Gaurish unleashed the good turn of foot inside the final 150m to strike it rich.
Vijay`s Cliffhanger (Hindu) displayed vast improvement following his last month`s victory, to down a solidly fancied Javed Khan`s runner, Divine Chakra (Srinath), in the 1,600m Salterello Handicap. The favourite had build up a winning lead inside the last furlong but a late but impressive surge by Cliffhanger spoiled the former`s party.
The 2,200m RCTC Gold Vase was deservingly picked up was trainer Christopher Alford`s long priced runner, New Moon (Afzal Khan). New Moon`s superior class was fully exploited by the trainer, in view of the horse`s limitations over the slated trip. The rank outsider was held back in fourth behind Saggitarius (Arshad Alam), Arjuna, and the 12/10 Vijay`s favourite, Jaivant till about 250m from home. New Moon was put into the top gear thereafter to carry his top-weight of 60kg to a comfortable victory over the late finishing Shivalik Sight (R.S. Bhati).
The varied pace in the early half of the 2,000 Royal Mantle Handicap, worked to the advantage as Neeraj Rawal adopted the pillar-to-post tactics on the front running James McKeown`s Avellino, a 4/1 chance in the betting. The early slow pace proved damaging to Vijay`s Ghost (Hindu) -- a 3/10 hot favourite`s – cause. Hindu tried his hardest in final 200m but failed by a whisker at the wire.
McKeown scored a quick-double when his filly Inkonito delivered the goods in the 1,600m Retained Asset Handicap. Allowing Abenaki (J. Gurang) to lead a merry dance until 250m from the wire, Sandesh, joined the issue and Inkanito easily had the measure of his stable-mate, Moresco (B.Mahesh).
The concluding event fell easy to trainer Shafiq Khan`s Gentillesse (K. Sai Kiran) who also unleashed good turn of foot to take the measure of the front running Shimmering Star (Mudassar Nazar) and Fenicia Mist (app Sujit Paswan).
Avellino (Neeraj Rawal up) winner of the Royal Mantle Handicap
New Moon (Afzal Khan up) winner of the Rctc Gold Vase
Gaurish (Hasib Alam up) winner of the Andropov Handicap
Inkonito (A Sandesh up) winner of the Retained Asset Handicap
Cliffhanger (Hindu Singh up) winner of the Salterello Handicap
Zoya (Dashrath Singh up) winner of the Calcutta Oaks (2020) (Gr.3)
Jake (A Sandesh up) winner of the Indian Produce Stakes
Gentillesse (K Sai Kiran up) winner of the Little Beaut Handicap