Shazaan Shah trained Joaquin continued from where he had left off at Mumbai, with another winning performance in the 1400 metres Gamble For Love Trophy, a race for horses rated 80 and above, the feature event of Thursday`s Pune races. After two years of interrupted seasons due to Covid, the season started off on a promising note.
The fact that a full-fledged healthy season is taking place despite the financial turbulence faced by the club is a testimony to the commitment shown by the administrators and members of the club. Post the Pandemic, the club should hopefully regain its financial stability of he past.
Victorious Sermon who had been an enigmatic performer and had more failed efforts to his credit and Enid Blyton were the horses more keenly supported in the betting. Victorious Sermon had last won 515 days ago. Enid Blyton, on the other hand, had finished runner-up on four successive occasions. Joaquin who had signed off the season with a win in tremendous fashion was available at lucrative odds.
Those who backed Victorious Sermon were to rue their decision the moment the horses took off from the gates as he was sluggish from the gates. Though jockey Sandesh had him cover ground quickly and even had the fancied runner lead the field into the straight, the energy had been expended. Joaquin who was nicely placed in the second position by jockey Zervan immediately took charge on straightening for the home run and was hailed a winner a long way from home. The only change that one saw after Joaquin established the winning lead, was the shuffling of places occupied by those from behind. Sunrise Ruby ran on strongly to take the spot ahead of Enid Blyton who held off a host of challengers in Endeavour and Gazino to save place money. This was the seventh career win for the prolific Joaquin who has made 50 per cent of races that he has run in as winning ones. Endeavour`s four successive winning run was halted as the Imtiaz Sait trainee appeared to be in need of a run.
One was in for a rude shock in the Australia Racing on Playrwitc.com Plate (Div I), a race for horses rated 40 to 65 as Exclusive who was running on the back of four unbeaten efforts at Mumbai found it hard to maintain her winning run and was sorted out easily. The fact that she was vulnerable was amply indicated in the generous odds quoted on Exclusive to record her fifth straight win. The Awakening from the stables of Malesh Narredu which had been well prepared came in for strong support to end up as a tote favourite in what was an open type of betting. The Awakening appeared to be on course for a win when the four-year-old carried the lead deep into the straight but his hopes were put paid by the finishing burst of Baby Bazooka who produced a scintillating effort in the hands of apprentice jockey Prakash to nail the front-runner on the post. Baby Bazooka who had recorded back-to-back wins on the same track was thus recording a win after a gap of 418 days. Spring Grove ran on to take the third spot while Exclusive was a disappointing fifth. The lower division of the race was won by the well-backed Fast Rain from the stables of trainer M K Jadhav. Fast Rain whose last appearance was a winning one, chased Cellini into the straight before bursting clear in the final furlong for an emphatic win. Son of A Gun who was expected to be in the thick of things disappointed and even failed by a whisker to get the runner-up from the front-running Cellini. Son of A Gun who was bidding for a hat-trick may have finished poor third but the present run needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.
Altaf Hussain-trained Magileto was strongly backed to record an encore considering the runaway win he had recorded at Mumbai. However, Magileto ran disappointingly and was a lost cause well before the race came to a boil in the 1100 metres Truefitt and Hill Trophy, a race for horses rated 20 to 46. Dallas Todywalla trained Rodrigo was spot on for the race as from a handy second position at the top of the straight, he left the field stranded to win unchallenged. Magileto who was not well positioned, ran on in the straight to take the second spot ahead of Trinket who in turn was a neck ahead of Enlightened. These are early days and the form of the previous season cannot be the deciding factor as most trainers prefer to have their wards get optimum fitness with a race run to their credit.
Altaf had a ready winner in My Princess who lived up to the expectations of the punting public that the filly will make a winning debut win in the 1200 metres D K Ashish Trophy, a race for maiden three-year-olds. My Princess chased House of Lords well into the straight before taking charge approaching the final furlong and sped ahead. Fiery Red came up with a wet sail but the front-runner managed to reach the safety of the winning post. Make a note of Fiery Red who should win before long.
There was a pair of races meant for the horses in the lowest category. Trainer Faisal Abbas had strong horses in both races and it came as no surprise when his wards dominated in both divisions. Apprentice jockey Prakash brought Cipher from way off the pace into contention in the final furlong. The lesser fancied runner sailed past Beemer to record an emphatic win even as Brilliant Lights who led the field ran erratically to eventually race on the outer rail. Jack Bauer nosed out Tristar to return a rich dividend on the place. Anoushka was driven out to win the lower division of the race by veteran jockey Amyn Merchant. C`est L`Amour who led from the start was not inclined to give up easily and put up a dogged fight before the favourite asserted her supremacy close to home.