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Northern Lights maintains winning run

  September 16 , 2023

Pesi Shroff trained Northern Lights overcame a stiff challenge from Forest Flame and Mojito to retain his unbeaten run of six wins while taking the 1600 metres Parimatch Pune City Gold Cup, a terms race for three-year-olds and over, the feature event of Saturday`s Pune races. Northern Lights was conceding weight to all the horses in the fray and was even reported to have had a setback. All these things did not bother him as he led all the way and went past the post ahead of the rest.

Northern Lights has been a veritable money spinner and has established his superiority over trips ranging from seven furlongs to a mile. His last was 62 days ago in the BTC Anniversary Cup at Bangalore in the month of July. Since returning to Pune, he is reported to have a bout of fever which had kept him out of action. Perhaps this was the main reason why he went to the post as a second favourite. On the other hand, multiple classic winner Forest Flame who was well placed in scales, receiving 5.5 kgs from her main adversary had been racing after a gap of 259 days. She had been sent to the stud farm and spent a good holiday there before being sent back to have a race run. The connections plan to send her to Dubai for the Racing Carnival. Whether she has the requisite rating to qualify is another question. Forest Flame was supposed to run at Mysore last fortnight but was strangely withdrawn, stating that the ground was sticky. In contrast, others are of the belief that if she had beaten the higher-rated Agnostic, her rating would have jumped much to her deterrence if and when she is sent abroad.

Be that as it may, there was no disputing the superiority of Northern Lights except that he had missed some important workouts due to fever. Jockey Pradeep Chouhan took him on a start-to-finish mission which is what the son of Lethal Force enjoys. Count of Savoy kept company with Northern Lights. This pair was followed by Forest Flame, Pride`s Angel, Successor and Mojito. Northern Lights had all his opponents off their bridle by the final turn. Northern Lights kept going in front though towards the end he was slackening a bit. His lead was good enough to stave off the late rally of Forest Flame and Mojito who made rapid strides along the rails. Northern Lights was thus recording his 13th career win from 22 outings in his prolific career.

Shezan Shah trained Rambler had come down a lot and his last forward run was suggestive that the connections would be impatient to wait with him any longer. In keeping with this expectation, Rambler came in for big support to win the 1400 metres Jack Frost Plate, a race for horses rated 40 to 66. The favourite for the race though was last-start winner Fortune Teller who was making his foray into this class. Jockey T S Jodha had Rambler chasing Enlightened into the straight before quickly assuming command in the homestretch to have the race sewn up a long way from home. There was a cluster finish for the minor placings, with Flying Scotsman heading Fortune Teller and Pyrrhus at the post. Fancied Lit lost all her chances at the gate itself with a lethargic beginning.

There were at least three horses which had a good chance of winning the 2000 metres Fourth Estate Trophy, a race for maiden three-year-olds only. Pesi Shroff had three horses and it is always difficult to predict the quantum of improvement that these horses make after a run and which one among them. Transcend was the preferred horse ahead of Exuma. The least preferred horse among the Pesi trio was Bugatti. Capucine and Alexandros led the field into the straight before the latter shot ahead. Down the final furlong, Exuma sorted out Alexandros but faced a big fight from Bugatti who surged ahead close to home. Even as Bugatti was being hailed as a winner, favourite Transcend came home with a big run on the wide outside to put his neck in front in the hands of jockey C S Jodha. A neck each separated the first three placers. Exuma finished third while Eaton Squared who filled up the frame was five lengths adrift.

Dallas Todywalla trained Sky Fall held off the spirited challenge of Babay Bazooka to land the spoils in the 1200 metres Excellent Trophy, a race for horses rated 80 and above. Son Of A Gun was strongly fancied to win. The speedy Sky Fall hit the front from the word go and though the six-year-old mare was hard-pressed to retain the lead in the closing stages of the race by Baby Bazooka who made a big rally along the rails, the front-runner lasted out to win by a neck. Joaquin headed Son Of A Gun at the post to end up third. The late rallying Gazino filled up the frame.

Altaf Hussain trained Sovereign Grey who had won against the run of expectations last time out was backed strongly to win the 1200 metres Cambridge Plate, a race for horses rated 20 to 46. Miss American Pie from the stables of trainer M K Jadhav had won impressively last time out and had every chance to win but the betting was focused exclusively on the big-made Sovereign Grey. Dilbar who is on a weight-shedding mission led the field and refused to give up easily in the straight. Even as Trevor on Sovereign Grey was able to get the better of the pace-setter, he was confronted with a challenge from Superimpose who made a big rally through a narrow gap along the rails and Miss American Pie who showed up on the wide outside. The last named managed to neck out Superimpose with Sovereign Grey 3/4th of a length behind the runner-up. Flashing Famous made a late rally to finish a suggestive fourth.

Faisal Abbas trained Anoushka made amends for the narrow loss last time out with a comfortable win over long shot Dagger`s Stike in the 1400 metres Star of Gibraltar Plate, a race for horses rated 4 to 30. From a handy third position at the final bend, Anoushka was pushed to take charge from front-running Hela at the top of the straight by jockey Saqlain. The six-year-old mare picked up speed and quickly established a winning lead. Dagger`s Strike with a late flourish edged out Hela, who was a nose ahead of Silver Steps. The last named flattered to deceive.

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