Trainer Vijay Singh`s Jake (Akshay Kumar-up), the top-rated youngster of last winter, bounced back to form with a cantering victory in the 1,400m Baqlava Handicap at the RCTC ground on Saturday. The champion trainer does not believe in pushing his highly rated babies during the wet seasons and Jake`s below-par performance in the monsoon season`s Colts Stakes was not a serious lapse as far as his connections were concerned. Akshay, in fact, was in a full flow on the day, having scored a priced treble in the afternoon`s seven-event card. Verdicts, however, were close during the afternoon, indicating top-class competition, though lacking in quality horseflesh.
The front-running tactics had won Jake a number of times; until the Win Legend son met his Waterloo in the Colts Stake. A near six-week rest and the changed riding tactics, fetched him what he really deserved. Jake was a 11/2 chance in the betting while bulk of money went in the direction of trainer Bharath Singh`s Colts Trial winner, Agnostic (Vinay Jaiswal), and Neil Darashah`s last outing very promising winner Class II, Mountain Lion (Arshad Alam).
Akshay held back Jake, almost in the rear of the seven-horse field and improved gradually close to the final turn. One can daringly say that Akshay did all the wrong things thereafter – taking the horse eight-wide and staying put on the far side. However, being in the driver`s seat he certainly knew as to what he was doing. Jake almost took over the running, no sooner the field entered the home straight and the champion youngster was gone, prompting Akshay to start throwing glances, the distance-post onwards. Jake`s total dominance not only tells rest of the story but also his winning chances in the forthcoming Classics, despite the outstation representations.
Vihay`s Dandi Satyagraha (Akshay) selected himself 1,200m Totalisator Handicap. The Chevalier son was up against a better handicapped but an over-raced opposition. More importantly, the last run of 12/10 favourite was a trial one when he was tested, well off the pace, in a 1,100m race. Therefore it hardly came as a surprise when he raced to the plan and had an easy measure of Bharath`s Centurion who needed a meaningful run after a bumpy start during the monsoon season.
A forward run in the Monsoon Derby, was what trainer Faisal Abbas`s The Protector (Amyn Merchant) needed and that helped the cause of the 12/10 favourite in the 1,400m Miss X O Lence Handicap. Racing right behind the Delhi migrant, Sir Mor (Md Islam), till about 600m from home, The Protector kicked clear of the opposition but faced a brief but a strong challenge from Vijay`s Ielani (Hindu) while the last outing winner, Nazaakat (app Rupal Singh) was a poor third. Trainer Christopher Alford`s Robinson Crusoe (Shailesh Shinde), the anti-post favourite, was never in the race from the very start, having lost a considerable ground when flagged off.
The expanding odds – from 13/20 to 5/4 -- of the last outing runaway winner, Night Secret (Arshad) in the concluding event, the 1,600m Usher Handicap sent a signal to ponder over. Arshad tried his best, lead from Shamshir Sword (Vinay) but in vain, and in the bargain the horse lost all interest in the race. The top-weighted filly started going backwards, no sooner the field entered the home straight. The race was won by Bharath`s Daring Heart (Hindu) – a recent gain from brother Vijay – who however, was hard-pressed to beat S.K. Sunderji`s Infinite Beyond (C.S. Jodha). The last named, perhaps needed the run and should be followed.
Sunderji`s Nishk (Jodha) is another one who may be benefitted by the run in the 1,200m Star Contender Handicap. The 12/10 was no match for the Vikash Jaiswal`s pair of Indian Tiger (Vinay) and Nandini`s Pet (Asghar). In fact, Indian Tiger shaped as a winner but was just nosed-out at the wire by the Aashay Doctor`s late finishing long-shot, Ember Glow (app P. Tajeshwar).
Alford`s speedy runner Adorinda (Shezad Khan) was out-paced by Sustado in her last outing over 1,400m. The top-weighted Speaking of Which filly relished the shorter trip of the 1,200m Coxcomb Handicap. The cutting of each other`s pace by the 8/10 favourite, Legend Returns (app P. Tajeshwar), a stablemate, and Rutherford Alford`s, Jinsoku (Merchant) worked to her advantage. Adrindo, always third, pounced on the tiring leaders inside the last furlong to have an easy measure of Shafiq Khan`s friendless Unstoppable who came on the scene late. The favourite may have needed the run.
None of the five in the fray had shown any form to rely upon in the 1,600m Satellite Handicap. However, the morning workouts suggested a close battle between trainers Arti Doctor`s Third Avenue (Akshay) and Sunderji`s Deemed To Fire (Jodha). They fought out the battle and the former, who led from the start, had a long-neck to spare at the wire.