Expectations were high from the small-made filly, Shivalik Sight, in the 2,800m Calcutta St Leger, and the Jasbir Singh-trainee lived up to the promise to deliver the goods, on Wednesday, in the hands of jockey Imran Chisty. It was Chisty’s day. The crafty rider also finished the day on a high. He not only scored a rich treble but also strengthened his position at the top of the championship table -- two points clear of another champion rider, Suraj Narredu. Trainers Vijay Singh and Javed Khan were also in the limelight, having notched a double a piece in the afternoon’s seven-event card.
Shivalik Sight, the lightly build Shaamid daughter had to be raced sparingly and Jasbir must be complimented for planning her schedules intelligently, giving her about four-week break after each run. However, her Queen’s Cup run, third behind Point To Prove, revealed her potential.
In the St Leger, Shivalik Sight was spotted as a winner 600m from home as Chisty had her going a double in the wrong-end of the field while Vijay’s trio and the long time leaders – Abhay Gama (Nikhil Naidu), the 5/2 favourite, Jaivant (Suraj Narredu) and Inca (C.S. Jodha) – were still calling the shots but were hardly in a comfortable zone.
Chisty never did anything special rounding the home turn, In fact, Shivalik Sight literally dragged the jockey to come abreast of Jaivant who had taken over from Abhay Gama 300m from home. There was some resistance from Jaivant, inside the last furlong, before the inevitable happened in favour of the 13/4, identified as Shivalik Sight. In the same race, the Roll Call (Trevor) – a final Entry at the cost of Rs 3.37 lakhs – failed to do anything worthwhile at any point of the race. He broke down in the home straight.
Chisty’s day had started with Javed’s double through, Rush For Gold, a 7/2 chance in the 1,100m Surf Side Handicap. It wasn’t an intelligent move by Chisty to make his bid along rails but the courageous horse delivered the goods. Not a good move because the rail-side passage takes the brunt after a shower. The overnight heavy rain was expected to have done that much damage to the cause of rails seekers. Anyway, the early leaders – Miami (P.S. Chauhan) and Mr Fogg’s (Trevor) – were the major force, ahead of Rush For Gold who’s superior acceleration was too strong in the final 150m of the race.
Javed-Chisty pair struck again half-an-hour later when their ward, Lumos, decided to reveal his superior class to down Vijay’s Moskova (Hindu Singh) and the other fancied runners. Lumos, a 4/1 fancied runner in the Red Chief Handicap, was raced, well off the pace and on the wide out but displayed a brilliant acceleration in the last furlong to retire an easy winner.
Suraj, too, had his day well designed. His horsemanship on the two Vijay’s winners, Essos and Valeria, was brilliant. The victory of both horses in their respective events – the 1,200m baby race, the Calorific Plate and the 1,600m Serendine Cup – was a treat to watch. Valeria, however, scored by a mere neck from Javed’s Dancing Lord (R.S. Bhati) but Suraj power-packed riding and the timing of challenge on the 5/2 shot and on the wide out, was commendable.
The victory the speedy Essos may not have come that easy. Suraj wasn’t man in a hurry on Eljohar colt. In the mid-division in the early two furlongs, he took the 5/1 shot to the front only after the halfway stage and kicked on to score easily.
The day’s opener, the 2,000m Armetta Handicap also produced an exciting finish but the end-result was a narrow victory for trainer Bharath Singh’s Midnight Phantom (Trevor) who stumped Arti Doctor’s new import from the West, Headboy (Dhanu Deora) at the post. Headboy dictated terms With the 5/2 favourite, Avellino (Naidu) but took control and was hailed as a winner. A late but powerful challenge by Trevor got the verdict at the post.
The concluding event, the 1,400m Miss XO Lence, produced a shocking winner in Shafiq Khan’s Bang Bang, ridden by apprentice P. Tejeshwar. The 10/1 shot was brought into the fray from the wrong-end of the field in the home-straight to beat Rare Bird (Deora) who also raced in the rear, to foil the victory chances of Bharath’s shocker, Aquadancer (Naidu), who was among the early leaders.
Midnight Phantom (Trevor Patel up) winner of the Armetta Handicap
Rush For Gold (Imran Chisty up) winner of the Surfside Handicap
Lumos (Imran Chisty up) winner of the Red Chief Handicap
Essos (Suraj Narredu up) winner of the Calorific Plate
Shivalik Sight (Imran Chisty up) winner of the Calcutta St. Leger (2020)
Valeria (Suraj Narredu up) winner of the Serendine Cup
Bang Bang (P Tejeshwar up) winner of the Miss X O Lence Handicap