In racing, tactics play a crucial role in making or marring the performance of a horse. Castlebridge is a horse suited to run aggressively in front and tiring out those who chase him because of the blistering speed at which he runs freely in front. Such horses are difficult to handle because you can always overreach your front-running role in a way as to hinder its final dash. On Sunday, when the champion son of Burden of Proof ran, his undoing was not his scorching speed while doing front-running tactics but because he was denied the opportunity to run in a way that both defines him and brings out the best in him. While Suraj Narredu had excelled on him in the Mysore Derby when Castlebridge had become the first horse in India to come under two minutes for the 2000 minutes trip, Trevor`s decision to ride him in check had a disastrous effect as Rochester, the only horse capable of giving a chase to him beat him comprehensively in the Gr 1 2000 metres Ramniwas Ramnarain Ruia Trophy, a terms race for four-year-olds, the feature event of Sunday`s races. Tactically Indian jockeys don`t measure up when a difficult situation confronts them.
Castlebridge was expected to have a walk in the park and accordingly, he was quoted at very short odds. Much to the surprise of those watching the race, Trevor chose to slow down the pace of the race in such a way that an ordinary horse like Grand Passage had the privilege of setting the pace for most of the journey. When Trevor woke up and hit the front, Rochester was not far behind. Castlebridge was confronted with a challenge going into the final furlong and he succumbed meekly as Rochester sped away for a shock win by a margin bigger than even thought of. One can only attribute the disastrous performance of Castlebridge for thinking too much on tactics rather than concentrating on the basics. You should play to your strengths was hammered once again by the poor run of the favourite. There is also the danger of horses of the high profile being over-trained as well.
Dallas Todywalla trained Ruffina is simply an amazing specimen. She had suffered only one defeat in her career and that was in the extended trip of a mile in the Guineas where she was beaten close home because of stamina limitations over a mile. Now brought back to the more suitable trip of seven furlongs in the Gr 3 Darashaw Million, a terms race for four-year-olds and over, Ruffina simply towered over the opposition notwithstanding the fact that she was running against seasoned opponents of considerable achievement. Jockey David Allan was also carrying overweight on the filly. However, nothing was going to stop the brilliance of the progeny of Excellent Art who massacred the field with great disdain. David kept Ruffina in a handy fourth or fifth position before improving the wonder filly in the homestretch. Ruffina literally walked past the opposition to win in great style from late rallying Supreme General and Your Royal Majesty. St Andrews was in striking position all through the race by the extra furlong was his undoing and it was here that he went out of the reckon to finish a close fourth.
David Allan earlier in the day had drive home first-timer Divine Power to an easy win in the 1000 metres Ahmed I Rahimtoola Trophy, a race for maiden three-year-olds. Divine Power had enough speed to stay in touch with front-running Buddyholly before spurting clear in the final furlong. Cormorant finished second with a late rally. Julio Cesario was faraway third.
Mansoor Shah trained Fine Tune who had racing form to support his credentials also got further boost to his chances when the right money came on her in the 1000 metres Warsaw Pact Plate, a race for horses in the lowest category. Fine Tune chased Abraxas deep into the straight before overhauling the front-runner for a comfortable win. Star of Thea came up with a late bid to finish second ahead of Till End of Time who nosed out the long-time leader for the third position.
Sanjay Kolse trained Sagittarius proved immensely superior to the opposition in the 2000 metres Maharashtra Gujarat & Goa Area Trophy, a race for horses rated 20 to 46 with an aggressive front-running tactic. Sagittarius travelled well within himself before distancing himself from the rest for an easy win over late-finishing favourite Adonijah. It`s a Deal was third.
Antia trained Flay Flying proved too speedy for the rest in the 1200 metres Sir H M Mehta Trophy, a race for horses rated 40 to 66. Flag Flying shot off like a scalded cat and had no problem in staying clear of fancied Triple Threat who found the front-runner slipping beyond his reach in the final furlong. Moonshine ran on to finish third.
Another Kolse trained Elixir made it in the 1400 metres Yawar Rashid Trophy (Div I), a race for horses rated 20 to 46, in a tight finish. Man of Word seized the initiative going into the final furlong but was strongly challenged by Rotterdam and Elixir who both finished with a rush. Elixir on the wide outside managed to neck out Rotterdam who was slightly hemmed in. Man of Word was third a nose behind the runner-up. The lower division of the race was claimed by Rehanullah Khan trained Reds Revenge who asserted his supremacy in the final furlong and won from Ebony. Sassy Lass who was backed spiritedly, lost some ground at the start and though she moved up briskly, her finishing effort was lacking to make a difference to the outcome of the race.
Fine Tune (H Zeeshan up) winner of the Warsaw Pact Plate
Rochester (C S Jodha up) winner of the Ramniwas Ramnarain Ruia Gold Cup (Gr.2)
Divine Power (David Allan up) winner of the Ahmed I Rahimtoola Trophy
Sagittarius (Dashrath Singh up) winner of the Maharashtra, Gujarat & Goa Area Trophy
Ruffina (David Allan up) winner of the Darashaw Million (Gr.3)
Flag Flying (Bhawani Singh up) winner of the Sir H M Mehta Trophy
Reds Revenge (Trevor Patel up) winner of the Yawar Rashid Trophy (Div-II)
Elixir (Neeraj Rawal up) winner of the Yawar Rashid Trophy (Div-I)