Sulaiman Attaollahi trained Forest Flame who could not race for a longish period of time due to a combination of circumstances bounced back with an authoritative win in the Gr 2 Maharaja Jiwajirao Scindia Trophy, a terms race for four-year-olds and over, the feature event of Friday`s Mumbai races. In view of the restrictions imposed by the Government of Maharashtra, racing was held without spectators, with minimum attendance permitted for those who were directly involved in the conduct of the activity in one capacity or the other.
Forest Flame could not take part in the Indian Turf Invitation Cup held last month as the filly had a minor setback. Also, her travel to Pune was eventful as she was stuck in the float for 24 hours as the GST authorities seized the float about 70 kms from Bangalore. Fortunately, the five-year-old mare has come out of the trauma without any major hiccup. Her facile win in the day`s feature event augurs well for her and her target before being retired to the stud will be the Indian Turf Invitation Cup to be held on the first Sunday of March in Chennai.
Be that as it may, Forest Flame, despite all the hardships, was quoted at very cramped odds. Though she was conceding weight to all her adversaries, this was not expected to hurt her chances considering the fact that she was a cut above the rest. In a slow run race, Bold Legend set the pace followed by Taimur, North Star and Forest Flame. Jockey Sandesh, perhaps becoming wise after his disastrous ride on Juliette, stayed in touch with the field. Forest Flame smoothly covered the leeway in the stretch and assumed command approaching the final furlong and spurted clear to win by a widening margin of three lengths over Taimur. Bold Legend stayed on to take the third position ahead of North Star who ran way below the mark.
Imtiaz Sait trained Iron Age is a prolific winner on the local circuit. On the odd occasion, the seven-year-old gelding has taken on outside challenge, he has faltered. Iron Age was quoted at cramped odds against a familiar local opposition on whom he has got a stranglehold and as such, his ridiculously easy win in the 1200 metres Mahalakshmi Trophy, a terms race for four-year-olds and over, was on expected lines. Sandesh had Iron Age control the pace in the front. The Manjri Stud Farm produce was not hard-pressed to stay put in front and he passed the post three lengths adrift of Augustus Caesar who managed to neck out Gazino for the runner-up berth.
Trainer Pesi Shroff has a surfeit of good horses that any runner from his stable, whether running for the first time or not, is bound to attract spirited support. Though the got-abroad filly Chamonix was making her debut as a four-year-old over a mile in the Tasawwur Plate (Div I), a race for horses rated 4 to 30, she was a well-backed second favourite. Redefined was the preferred one. Apprentice jockey Kritish Bhagat who is growing in confidence with every winning ride, brought Chamonix from way off the pace and the filly easily tackled the front-running Redefined to win by a margin of three lengths. Luminosity edged out the favourite to get the second position. The well-fancied Marlboro Man warmed up in the nick of time to edge out Power of Thor in the waning yards of the race to win the lower division of the race. Verdandi was third ahead of Sussing. There was support for Shadows and Beastia but both flattered to deceive.
Pesi Shroff trained Northern Lights was driven out by apprentice Bhagat to a narrow win over stablemate The Bawaji and the late rallying Empower in the1600 metres Maseeha Plate, a race for horses rated 40 to 66. The Bawaji showed the way but gave way to stablemate Northern Lights in the final furlong who fought on resolutely to prevail by a neck. Empower flashed late on the scene and could only manage the third slot. Wayin had all the chances but failed to find extra gear.
Narendra Lagad trained Son Of A Gun was a smashing winner of the 1000 metres Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy (VI Bart) Trophy, a race for maiden three-year-olds. Son Of A Gun had the benefit of a race run and this perhaps had him sharper for the race. Though Son Of A Gun lost considerable ground at the start, jockey Dashrath Singh rushed him to the front on the wide outside. Son Of A Gun looked in total control of the race all the way in the straight despite the hiccup at the start and a bad ride given by Dashrath Singh. The fact that he was able to spare a length at the finish to Fortunate Son was suggestive of the impressive nature of the win of the favourite. Emperor Roderic was third. Prince O`War who is a full brother to Sprinters Cup winning Multifaceted came in for big support but flopped miserably.
Lagad also led in the winner of the last race of the day, the 1000 metres Lady Moura Plate (Div I), a race for horses rated 20 to 46. Desert Fire came in for good support based on the fact that he had run behind Enigma albeit many lengths adrift. Enigma had gone on to finish third in the Sprinters Cup. Sandesh brought Desert Fire into a striking second position from the wide outside draw and the favourite had no problem in winning by a widening margin of five lengths over Stars For You who was in receipt of noticeable support in the betting markets. Enlighted was third while last start winner Dilbar who was also in considerable betting was a tame fourth. The lower division of the race saw a gamble being landed by trainer Antia on Untitled. It was not the horse did not have merit but the fact that the nine-year-old had run more than 14 lengths behind the winner in his last run 15 days ago plus the fact that he hadn`t won 733 days was a dissuading factor. Untitled ran true to market expectations and was not hard-pressed to win with an aggressive run in the front. Lagertha was second ahead of Hilad. The fancied duo power of Neath and Sufiyah were never in the reckoning.
Altamash Ahmed trained Enid Blyton broke the winning sequence of hat-tricker Pride`s Angel in the 1400 metres Mathradas Goculdas Trophy, a race for horses rated 60 to 86. Enid Blyton who hadn`t won a race for nearly a year came home with a strong effort to get the better of front-running Pride`s Angel in the closing stride of the race. Sunrise Ruby was third. Mount Moriah who received strong support in the betting ring showed up prominently at the top of the straight but lost steam in the final furlong to go out of the reckoning.