Trainer Vijay Singh`s prized runner, Shivansh (Suraj Narredu-up), scored a cantering win on Sunday, the Boxing Day, when the six-year-old decided to put his best foot forward in the 1,400m Army Cup, a prestigious race event seeped in traditions and history. In fact, the race, when in its prime glory, was considered as a pointer to the Calcutta Derby. Yes, Shivansh was the worthy winner but it career-graph may not suggest so. Nevertheless, Shivansh also provided, both, Suraj and Vijay a treble apiece in the afternoon`s seven-event card. Their other winners were Raisina Star, in the baby race, and Dandi Satyagraha. Trainer Bharath Singh was the other professional in the limelight, having notched up a brace of wins.
Unlike last time out when he was taken by a surprise by his stable-mate, Tudor Hall, after building up a winning lead in the home-stretch, Suraj rode Shivansh in his signature style – riding well off the pace; until the home turn, that he negotiated eight-wide for a drawing away five-length victory over yet another stable-mate, Rainbow Trout, ridden by Nikhil Naidu.
This idea may not fit into the scheme of the things ideally that Vijay, normally, lets his two-year-old debutants perform freely, and in trusted hands. It is because, four of the five runners in the field were saddled by Vijay in the 1,200m Aayush Plate. It was, perhaps, a coincidence that Suraj had fulfilled all criterions to guide the fortunes of Raisina Star, a Top Class filly out of a mare named Malakaye Ziba who went to the start as a 6/4 favourite. Raisina Star almost made it a pillar-to-post affair.
Vijay`s Dandi Satyagraha was on a roll, and eyeing for a hattrick of wins. However, it was Suraj`s power-packed riding that helped the 11/4 fancied runner, Dandi Satyagraha, split the wire with the top weighted filly, Trump Girl (Anthony Raj) in the 1,200m Supreme Choice Handicap. The Pinson daughter was being hailed as a winner; until Suraj decided to get the best out of Dandi Satyagraha. In the same race, the 12/10 favourite Mountain Lion was also a close third.
Bharath`s 7/2 shot Essos (Naidu) also spoiled Vikash Jaiswal`s quiet party on Mr. Batolabaaz (app Hasib Alam) in the 1,200m Deep Water Blues Handicap. Batolabaaz was taken to the front from the start but inside the final 50m the leader`s easy measure was taken by Essos who was always third behind the leader.
Senturion, a 9/2 chance in the betting, provided Bharath with a rich haul, though jockey Chethan Gowda made things difficult for himself by taking the home turn very wide and also shifting in before taking an easy measure of trainer Javed Khan`s favourite and the long time leader, Stagger (R.S. Bhati).
Jockey Neeraj Rawal was not unduly stressed on his way to guiding trainer Arti Doctor`s hot property, Third Avenue, to victory in the 2,000m Gen A.S. Vaidya Memorial Cup. The up-coming three-year-old was another one eyeing for a hattrick of wins and he is yet to taste defeat. Sitting a handy third behind Jaiswal`s pair Astral Force and Scarlet Witch – who inter-changed leads half-way though – Third Avenue led into the straight to easily beat a late challenge of trainer C. Alford`s Eastern Crown (app P. Tajeshwar).
The day`s opener, the 1,100m Ageless Handicap was claimed by trainer Shafiq Khan`s fancied runner, Mosset who also came late on the scene as Bharath`s Tasmania (Naidu) and Javed`s Bunting (Amyn Merchant) dictated terms; until inside the last furlong.