Irfan Ghatala trained Salazaar continued to show his zest when staving off the challenge of Anjeze with a measure of comfort in the 2000 metres Chief Minister`s Trophy, a terms race for four-year-olds and over, the feature event of Saturday`s Bangalore races. The expected challenge from Royal Crystal did not materialize and it was an easy outing for the eight-year-old.
There is a shortage of good horses at the top which ensures that the time-tested horses who maintain their enthusiasm for racing have a big advantage as those of younger age have not made the cut. Salazaar was quoted at cramped odds considering his imposing record and the lack of consistently good record of Royal Crystal despite winning an odd big race.
Anjeze set a modest pace followed by Big Sur, Salazaar, Point To Prove, Royal Crystal and Ashwa Shehanshah. Royal Crystal was a little sluggish at the start but this had no bearing on his performance. What went against him was his lack of ability to perform in this company. Anjeze enjoyed the lead till approaching the final furlong before being overwhelmed by Salazaar who went on to win easily in the hands of jockey Suraj Narredu. Point To Prove nosed out stablemate Royal Crystal to get the third position. Big Sur seems to have lost his form and finished down the field.
Irfan Ghatala saddled a brace of winners as his other ward Akita Pro was also formidable contender in the 1400 metres Godolphin Barb Trophy, a race for horses rated 60 and above. Shamaz Shareef had nothing much to do as Akita Pro, from a forward position, went beyond the reach of the rest in the final furlong. Velocidad gave a chase but had to settle for the second position ahead of Alexandre Dumas. Peluche who came in for big support on the basis of his eye-catching run behind Royal Crystal, was off-colour, racing in the rear position and improving very little in the rest of the race.
Rajesh Narredu trained Priceless Gold who had made a winning debut 21 days ago was strongly expected to make the quantum jump in the 1600 metres Indian Army Plate, a race for horses rated 45 to 65. Priceless Gold who may possibly be campaigned in a terms race at Pune was settled comfortably in the mid group before Trevor Patel pulled him out on the wide outside to give him a clear run. The progeny of Excellent Art covered the leeway on those in front with the minimum of effort and then burst clear to win with a measure of comfort over Colonel Harty and the strongly backed Grey Channel.
Prasanna Kumar trained First Impression was backed to the exclusion of the rest in the 1200 metres Raj Ghat Plate (Div I), a race for horses rated 15 to 35. First Impression had a solid forward run despite suffering interference at the start and the one-sided betting on him was eventually justified by the ease with which he won. Padmanabhan trained Black Coffee came in for some sustained betting but then in keeping with the trend of Win Legend horses struggling to make their mark during this season, Black Coffee did not perform to expectations and finished poorly cutting an erratic course. First Impression assumed command with a furlong left to go and stormed clear to win with ease from Jokshan who held off Michigan Melody to get the runner-up berth. After an unsuccessful bid in the 1000 Guineas, Kishan Thomas trained Aztec Queen was back in a handicap race and she proved that she was a cut above the rest, winning the lower division of the race by a distance, with a start to finish dash. Impeccable ran on to take the second spot ahead of Radiant Treasure. The Division III of the race was claimed by Neil Darashah trained Shivalic Gold. The lesser fancied runner grabbed the lead in the final furlong and had enough cushion to stave off the late bid of favourite Exaltation in the hands of apprentice jockey Chetan Gowda. Fortuneer was third.
Likith Appu, the son of former champion jockey K P G Appu, had his maiden winner through the strongly backed Sea of Cortez in the 1400 metres Gaganachukki Plate, a race for horses rated 15 to 35. The Neil Darashah trainee was taken on a start to finish mission by Likith. Sea of Cortez proved so superior that the five-year-old mare had the race sewn up a long way from home. Super Gladiator who had his share of supporters found the front-runner too good for comfort and had to settle for the second spot, beating the third-placed Ultimate Striker by four lengths.
The positive intent was revealed in the flood of money attracted by Sharat Kumar trained The Response in the 1200 metres Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Plate, a race for horses rated 30 to 50. The Response was brought into strong contention in the final furlong by jockey John and thereafter, the race ceased to be a contest. Gin Daisy came from way off the pace to take the second spot ahead of Songkran. Star And Garter made no show.
Shivalic Gold (Chethan Gowda up) winner of the Raj Ghat Plate (Div-III)
Sea Of Cortez (Likith Appu up) winner of the Gaganachukki Plate
Aztec Queen (S Zervan up) winner of the Raj Ghat Plate (Div-II)
The Response (S John up) winner of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Plate
Akita Pro (Shamaz Shareef up) winner of the Godolphin Barb Trophy
Salazaar (Suraj Narredu up) winner of the Chief Minister`s Trophy
Priceless Gold (Trevor Patel up) winner of the Indian Army Plate
First Impression (Suraj Narredu up) winner of the Raj Ghat Plate (Div-I)