Prasanna Kumar trained War Hammer maintained his unbeaten run with a splendid win in the Gr 2 Bangalore 2000 Guineas, the second classic of the season on Saturday. War Hammer who went to the post at cramped odds, provided jockey Suraj Narredu with an arm-chair ride to success for owners` Dr C A Prashanth, Gautam Basapa, B S Manjunath and P Apana Subaiya.
War Hammer has all the attributes of a champion. For one he is so relaxed that the jockey can be at ease as well. War Hamer settles down well in the race and he can be switched off at the back and can be trusted to produce a devastating turn of foot that will floor the opposition. All these attributes were on display in the Guineas where Suraj could afford to settle the favourite at the rear in the four-horse field. David Allan was forced to hit the front as Northern Alliance jumped out this time smartly and found himself in front. The jockey dictated a slow pace followed by On The Trot, Southern Ruler and War Hammer. Northern Alliance kicked on the stretch resolutely with Southern Ruler putting pressure but unable to overwhelm the front-runner. In the meanwhile, Suraj brought War Hammer on the wide outside with a flourishing run. The champion produced the patented turn of foot to measure the battling duo in front inside the final 150 metres and pulled away to win by a margin of a length and three quarters. Southern Ruler was third. The stern test for War Hammer will come when he runs over the extended trip of a mile and a half in the Derby but given the fact that he has class and ability to relax during a race, he could overcome the distance handicap as well.
Darius Byramji trained Cosmos made amends for his last start failure as a favourite with a comprehensive win in the 2000 metres Mekedatu Plate, a race for horses rated 60 and above. Brothers In Arms did the pace-setting with Cosmos in proximity along with Indian Pharaoh while Velocidad and Corybantic spaced out behind. Suraj Narredu on Cosmos made his move approaching the final turn and the short-priced favourite smoothly cruised past the front-runner in the stretch to have the race sewn up a long way from home. Velocidad moved up to the second position inside the final furlong and stayed put there while Indian Pharaoh weakened in the final furlong and even lost the third position to Corybantic. The pace-setter Brothers In Arms finished last.
Newly apprenticed jockey Arul guided Kvasir got the maiden success of his career when he guided long shot Kvasir to victory in the 1200 metres S V Subramaniam Memorial Trophy, a race for horses rated 45 to 65. Roma Victor who had no form to go by was made the favourite because of the presence of David Allan who replaced the indisposed Trevor Patel. Last start winner Mega Ikon was second in demand though surprisingly the three-year-old was not seen in the track workouts the whole of December. After Depth Charge led the field into the final furlong and weakened, Silver Dew and Kvasir who was running 65 days since winning at Mysore came into contention. Arul drove out Kvasir to contain the late flourish of Akita Pro. Silver Dew was third. Arul surely is an apprentice to watch. Mega Ikon despite being in touch with the front-runners, went wide in the stretch and failed to show the needed acceleration to eventually fifth.
Three Wishes who had lost all his chances at the gates itself on the last occasion did not miss the kick this time out and duly obliged in the hands of jockey Colm Donoghue in the 1600 metres Air Force Cup, a race for horses rated 30 to 50. Colm had the Ganapathy trainee Three Wishes track the front-running Casey deep into the straight before driving out the fancied runner to measure the front-runner inside the final 100 metres. Three Wishes quickened well in the end and shook off the challenge of favourite Marco Polo to eventually win sparing two lengths at the finish. Casey weakened to finish third.
Irfan Ghatala trained Aachen brought off an upset in the 1200 Kentucky Stakes, a race for maiden three-year-olds, showing remarkable improvement. On the last occasion, Aachen was sluggish at the gates and was inclined to run out. The betting was concentrated on Cavaliere and Asgardia who both had finished behind in the order mentioned in their last run. Asgardia was the favourite in the belief that he would make more improvement from his debut effort than Cavaliere who had run multiple times. Jockey John took Cavaliere on a start to finish mission with Harbour Sunrise in the chase with Aachen settled in proximity while Musterion and Asgardia were spaced out behind. Cavaliere fought on resolutely to keep the lead in the stretch with Aachen on the wide outside essaying a powerful challenge. Jockey Umesh was able to keep Aachen going despite the horse drifting out under pressure and managed to get his horse put his head in front at the all-important end. Musterion and Asgardia closed with a rush to take the third and fourth position on the frame not far from the winner. Asgardia should make amends for the failure as a favourite especially if there is a step-up distance as he was finishing the fastest.
Faraz Arshad trained Debonair had a reasonable form to win the 1100 metres Gulbarga Plate, a race for horses in the lowest category. Backed to the exclusion of the rest, Debonair had control of the race at the top of the straight as he travelled all alone in the front with jockey Imran Khan hardly having to move a muscle. The Win Legend progeny Kanthaka who remains a maiden after 23 efforts, made some ground in the straight against a disinterested opposition to finish second ahead of Air Force One.
The 1600 metres Krishna raja Sagar Plate, a race for horses rated 15 to 35, attracted a very poor quality of horses and winner-picking was a wild guess. Smile of Joy opened as a favourite only to lose supporters. Honey Tap was a favourite by default. The race itself was won by long shot Aleef who got the better of Back of Beyond in the closing strides of the race. Back of Beyond shot ahead inside the final furlong but apprentice jockey Mohd Asif Khan strangely stopped riding in the shadow of the post and Aleef who was improving places on the wide outside got the race by default. One doesn`t know why the jockey did he at least has provided an opportunity for an otherwise jobless Stipes to show their presence. Honey Trap who brought the field into the stretch stayed on to take the third position while Smile of Joy who trailed the field from the beginning was a dismal last. Air of Distinction and King of Shadows reportedly burst their blood vessels.
Debonair (A Imran Khan up) winner of the Gulbarga Plate
Cosmos (Suraj Narredu up) winner of the Mekedatu Plate
Kvasir (Arul J H up) winner of the S.V.Subramaniam Memorial Trophy
Three Wishes (Colm O Donoghue up) winner of the Air Force Cup
War Hammer (Suraj Narredu up) winner of the Bangalore 2000 Guineas (Gr.2)
Aachen (C Umesh up) winner of the Kentucky Stakes
Aleef (A Vishwanath up) winner of the Krishna Raja Sagara Plate