Altaf Hussain trained Sultan Suleiman who had performed creditably on the Pune track last year and was a dramatic withdrawal on the eve of the Derby due to an injury suffered in the stables, hadn`t lived up to expectations during the last Mumbai season. However, he bounced back to winning ways on the resumption of Mumbai racing on his favourite track, getting the better of Mystic Bay in the closing strides of the race to clinch the 1400 metres Abeeta Plate, a race for horses rated 60 to 86, the feature event of opening day`s races held on Friday.
Those who enjoy the racing conducted by RWITC could heave a sigh of relief that racing could finally resume after several failed deadlines. The COVID devastated the country, more so the State of Maharashtra which made things difficult for racing to start. The whole of Pune season had to be cancelled forcing the club to be the last one to start racing in India because of things beyond its control. Since the Mumbai racecourse is far from ready as the parking lot and some other facility was used for COVID patients, the long winding season had to take off in Pune itself. The only jarring note was the inability of the turf clubs in India to hammer out an acceptable Royalty settlement. This problem ensured that the other centres could not conduct off-course betting at their centres. There were only limited operations in some centres.
Be that as it may, the speedy Kildare who had scorched the Pune track last year was made the favourite ahead of Sultan Suleiman and the rest. After Barack led the way well into the straight, Mystic Bay took charge and fought on resolutely before an aggressive effort by Sultan Suleiman yielded the desired result in the shadow of the post. Kildare found his rhythm surprisingly late though he did finish strongly being an eye-catching third. Kildare should make amends for this failure.
Malesh Narredu trained Giant Star was an impressive winner of the 1600 metres Secret Star Plate, a race for horses rated 40 to 66. Giant Star produced a powerful burst of speed in the final furlong to sail past the battling duo of Sunrise Ruby and Mount Moriah and won pulling up. This win was an eye-catching win. The style of victory suggested that the progeny of Excellent Art could be quite a handful in the plum events during the season. Giant Star surely has a lot of class. Yash Narredu had an easy job on the winner.
Yash Narredu had a double for the day when the favourite Leopard Rock proved far too superior for the opposition in the 1200 metres Raza Ali Plate, a race for three-year-olds. The Malesh Narredu trainee Leopard Rock had the race firmly in his control as he tackled the front-running Pepper with a strong effort. Leopard Rock skipped away to win by a widening margin of four lengths over late rallying Costa Rica who edged out Powerful Lady close home to snatch the runner-up berth.
Yash Narredu could have ended the day with three winners but in the earlier race, his effort on Enigma was not good enough to fetch the win over favourite Spring Grove in the 1000 metres Welcome Trophy, a race for maiden three-year-olds. Spring Grove who showed plenty of speed raced ahead of the pack within the first furlong and had a useful lead going into the final break which critically made the difference to the outcome of the race. Enigma who raced several lengths behind the front-runner, improved places in the straight, ran furiously and had to be checked by its rider as it was in danger of running into a horse in front. Enigma finished aggressively only to find the front-runner escape to victory by the shortest of margins. Fuhrer stayed in the front bunch to take the third position. It is needless to say that Enigma was a good thing to beat.
The long break perhaps had helped Ms Boss to be in better shape after a hugely disappointing run during the Mumbai racing season as she raced up with the field and sped away in the final furlong to win the lower division of the 1200 metres Mast Shifu Plate (Div II), a race for horses rated 20 to 46 to provide a welcome win for jockey Sandesh. Mount Olympus nosed out Beemer to take the second position. Mikalya`s Pride who enjoyed favouritism lost all her chances at the gate itself with a lethargic getaway. The division of the race saw trainer Himmat Singh saddle a rare win through Sandalphon who recorded his career`s first win in 17 outings by staving off Ame who drifted out under pressure but nevertheless managed to neck out Arabian Storm for the second position. T S Jodha rode the winner.
Dallas Todywalla trained Belenus had things falling her way in the 1200 metres Master Shifu Plate (Div I), a race for horses rated 20 to 46. Sandesh had Belenus lead from the start and the progeny of Arazan managed to thwart the strong bid of Monk despite drifting out under pressure. Dreams held off Guarnerius to save place money. Lesser fancied Whispering Queen from the stables of trainer Ivor Fernandes won the lower division of the race quite capably from Thea`s Pet and Red Fire. Favourite Romanesque did not have the speed to be well-positioned and failed to make a mark even in his 14th outing of his life.
Whispering Queen (A S Peter up) winner of the M D Petit Plate (Div-II)
Ms Boss (A Sandesh up) winner of the Master Shifu Plate (Div-II)
Sultan Suleiman (Akshay Kumar up) winner of the Abeeta Plate
Sandalphon (T S Jodha up) winner of the M D Petit Plate (Div-I)
Giant Star (Yash Narredu up) winner of the Secret Star Plate
Spring Grove (N S Parmar up) winner of the Welcome Trophy
Leopard Rock (Yash Narredu up) winner of the Raza Ali Plate
Belenus (A Sandesh up) winner of the Master Shifu Plate (Div-I)