Trainer Vijay Singh`s hot favourite colt, Jake (Suraj Narredu-up), won the 1,600m Calcutta Million, on Wednesday, but he gained the victory by the skin of the hair over his main rival, Galen, a stable-mate, ridden by Hindu Singh. Vijay went on to score a treble, thanks to another power-packed finish by Suraj atop Rainbow Trout, while Hindu had given the trainer a smart start on another of his favourite, Ghost, mid-way through the eight-event card. The afternoon also witnessed the visiting South India jockey P. Ajeeth Kumar helping trainer Rutherford Alford notch up priced double.
Vijay, in fact, had three runners in the Million and it was left to Cletus (C.S. Jodha) to cut a hot pace up-front. Also the fact that Jake had to his credit the measure of Galen – more comfortably almost at the even terms but he was also stretched with penalty, giving indications to his followers that at the level weights the supremacy of the 6/10 public choice was assured.
With Cletus in front and Galen right behind, Jake had no choice but to gallop abreast of the revenge seeker. The opportunity came Galen`s way as he took to the shortest way home with Jake having also been alerted. It was a close battle in the final 250m but, as they say, the brute might, normally, prevails; Suraj got the measure of Hindu`s charge, virtually in Jake`s last stride to win by a ‘nose`.
The story was no different in the following event, the `1,400m Brave Dancer Cup, won by Vijay`s 18/10 Rainbow Trout (Suraj), a joint 18/10 favourite with his stable-mate, Tudor Hall (Jodha).
In hot pursuit of Into The Spotlight (R.S. Bhati), Capricious (Nikhil Naidu) and Shimmering Star (app Tajeshwar) till about 250m from home, it was Shimmering Star who was shown the daylight but Suraj was quick, not only to make his move but also to put Rainbow Trout`s neck ahead in the final 100m of the journey. Tudor Hall was also brought with telling strides but was a trifle late, third, and so was New England (Vinay Jaiswal) who had marginally suffered at the start to trail the field almost till the home turn. Incidentally, it was a four-horse blanket-finish.
Hindu was a man in a hurry in the 1,600m Obolensky Handicap. Backed from threes down to 18/10, Hindu had Ghost settled in third behind Valegra (app P. Vikram) and Topnotch (Bhati) till about the final turn. He was quick to go into the lead, no sooner the field turned for home and, no wonder, Ghost was gone clear of the opposition, leaving the stable-mate, Inca (Suraj) four lengths behind.
Rutherford`s colt Jinsoku displayed plenty of speed in a weak set lined up for the 1,400m Own Opinion Handicap. Leading all the way, the Speaking of Which colt was just ahead of trainer Shafiq Khan`s 12/10 favourite Tahoe but the former made a stronger bid inside the last furlong, proving too good for the public choice.
In the concluding event, the 1,400m Allodium Handicap, Rutherford`s another speedy runner, Sheer Force, also tried to win from the start and succeeded, too, to stop a badly drifting out Bharath Singh`s runner, Oak Brook.
Trainer Manvendra Singh`s Estrella Star provided jockey Bhati virtually an armchair ride in the 1,200m Zelda Handicap, early in the afternoon. Bunched up behind early leaders Freeze (Jodha), Harbour Sunrise (Afzal Khan), Daring Heart (Suraj) and Lumos (app P. Vikram) till about 250m, Estrella Star was brought about zigzagged into the lead to score a fluent four-length victory over Harbour Sunrise, Treasure Hunt (Nikhil Naidu) and Kimaya (R.N. Darshan). The last two named, however, dead-heated for the third berth.
Trainer Harvinder Bath`s Seasky (Sameer Khan), too, won a close finish against Jaiswal`s Scarlet Witch (Vinay) in the 1,600m Captain Courageous Handicap in which trainer Aashay Doctor`s Intellection (Suraj) performed under par, may be because the light-framed filly disliked a quick run.
Trainer Shafiq Khan`s five-year-old Berluti (Sameer) cashed in on his third to have an easy measure of Javed`s fancied pair of Ahinka (Jodha) and Zodiac Prince (app Prathvi Singh) in the Aristocratic Handicap. However, changing forms in the lowest class is a routine affair and punters do accept that gleefully.
Berluti (Sameer Khan up) winner of the Aristocrat Handicap
Estrella Star (R S Bhati up) winner of the Zelda Handicap
Jinsoku (P Ajeeth Kumar up) winner of the Own Opinion Handicap
Seasky (Sameer Khan up) winner of the Captain Courageous Handicap
Ghost (Hindu Singh up) winner of the Obelensky Handicap
Jake (Suraj Narredu up) winner of the Calcutta Million (2020-2021) (Gr.3)
Rainbow Trout (Suraj Narredu up) winner of the Brave Dancer Cup
Sheer Force (P Ajeeth Kumar up) winner of the Allodium Handicap