Faisal Abbas trained Holy Smoke who had been running poor races, showed dramatic improvement when staving off veteran Dancing Prances to win the Gr 3 1200 metres Akkasaheb Maharaj Trophy, a terms race for four-year-olds and over, the feature event of Saturday`s Pune races. Racing has become a game of lottery with form not being a consideration for picking one`s choices. Picking a winner has become as difficult as getting a successful lottery ticket with form fluctuations being the despair of the punters.
Every alternate run of Denny Crane has been a winning one on the last few occasions. And on other occasions, Denny Crane has not figured among the finishers. As such, despite form pointing out to Denny Crane, one was inclined to support veteran Dancing Prances whose best appeared to be behind him but was favoured by the terms of the race. Holy Smoke hadn`t done anything worthwhile during the season for him to be considered as a possible upset prospect as he had flopped badly in his last few runs. Dancing Phoenix set a fast pace with Denny Crane, St Andrews and Holy Smoke in close proximity with Dancing Prances who was not so sharp at the gates, a few lengths adrift of the front bunch. Rounding the final turn, Dancing Phoenix kicked on but inside the final furlong, began to falter. Holy Smoke who had made his run along the rails then shot through and held off the late rally of Dancing Prances who fell short by half a length. St Andrews was third. Both Denny Crane and dual Sprinters Cup winner Adam ran disappointingly.
Neeraj Rawal drove out favourite Goldie`s Pet to a facile win in the 1000 metres Hawke Bay Plate, a race for horses rated 40 to 66. Goldie`s Pet had all the credentials. Neeraj Rawal had Goldie`s Pet chase Arabelle well into the straight before getting Goldie`s Pet to storm ahead. Goldie`s Pet had enough energy to see off the challenge of Triple Threat. House of Commons made a late rally to occupy the third place.
In a thrilling finish, Nirad Karanjawalla trained Zanzibar nosed out late finishing Pacific Dunes in the 1400 metres Gironde Plate, a race for horses rated 20 to 45. Inside the final 100 metres, several horses were in contention but in the closing strides of the race Zanzibar made big headway along the rails and was lucky to scrape past the post ahead of Pacific Dunes who came from nowhere with a massive effort. Firenze and Arabian Storm who were in contention till the closing stages of the race, occupied the next two slots on the frame.
Hoshidar Daji trained Grand Paradiso looked to have the best chance in the 1200 metres Rosmini Plate (Div I), a race for horses rated 20 to 46. Sandesh had the fancied runner take over the running soon after turning for home and the got-abroad stormed clear of the rest to win by a widening margin of four lengths over Gentillesse and Aeolus Maximus. Favourite Lord Commander made no show. The lower division of the race went the way of favourite Miss Moneypenny from trainer Imtiaz`s stables. The favourite got strong in the final furlong but faced a stiff resistance from Godsent who was essaying a sharp trip. The favourite however held off in the unexpected challenge of Godsent by a long neck. Lady In Red was third.
Malesh Narredu trained Lady Be Good was an impressive winner of the 2000 metres Weizhou Plate, a terms race for three-year-olds. After favourite Fortitude led the way from the start till turning for home, Lady Be Good smoothly cruised past the front-runner for a comfortable win. Swiftness ran on to finish second ahead of Zanara while the favourite disappeared without a trace.
Dallas Todywalla trained Selfie Star proved too good for the opposition while winning the 1600 metres September Cup, a race for horses rated 20 to 46 but confined to three-year-olds only. Srinath on Selfie Star sat unperturbed in the last position not affected by the frenetic pace in front. Selfie Star overwhelmed all the runners in the homestretch to win comfortably from Turning Point and Goofy Eyes. The last named was in receipt of inspired support in the betting ring but gave no hopes during the race.
Narendra Lagad trained Tally Ho floored the opposition in the 1000 metres Ishpingo Plate, a race for horses in the lowest class. Grappa attempted run away tactics with Highland Princess appearing to be the only threat. However, in the final furlong, the scene altered when Tally Ho showed up with a powerful burst from way behind and sailed past Grappa for a decisive win. Highland Princess edged out Grappa close home to grab the second position.
Holy Smoke (C S Jodha up) winner of the Akkasaheb Maharaj Trophy (Gr.3)
Lady Be Good (Yash Narredu up) winner of the Weizhou Plate
Miss Moneypenny (A Sandesh up) winner of the Rosmini Plate (Div-II)
Selfie Star (Y S Srinath up) winner of the September Handicap
Tally Ho (D S Daman up) winner of the Ishpingo Plate
Goldie`s Pet (Neeraj Rawal up) winner of the Hawke Bay Plate
Zanzibaar (P S Chouhan up) winner of the Gironde Plate
Gran Paradiso (A Sandesh up) winner of the Rosmini Plate (Div-I)