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Review of the first day of Pune 2014 - By Shiven Surendranath

Posted on - 27 Jul 2014

Review of the first day of Pune 2014
By Shiven Surendranath
The much awaited Pune season 2014 opened with all the buzz associated with racing in Western India: Twenty “million” races, International sponsorships, hospitality and media partnerships, charity initiatives and more.
At the racetrack however, the buzz was for a different reason altogether. In a set where form was not that easy to spot, Delightful Lady had become the medium of a nice sized touch from the fabled “goldie- brown” colours. As the race progressed it became evidently clear that the Lady was going to reach home safe and sound.
Donata, who was also fancied by her connections ran 2nd and had Spear of Trium run 3rd instead of 4th it would seem for a moment that it was punters and not bookies who ruled the roost at race courses across the world.
Delightful Lady’s timing and manner of victory suggest that her connections should soon be in the winners circle again.
Dreamland, the favourite in the second race, won just as easily as the favourite in the first race and jockey Yash Narredu continued his Bangalore form by completing his double on the double.
The third race of the afternoon saw Darren Willaims give a fine exhibition on why owners fly in foreign jockeys to ride their horses. 
The other interesting jockeys of note in the race were C.Umesh (Speed Baby) and Hanumant Singh (Starry Ocean). Both these jockeys gave prefect rides to showcase legendary Indian hospitality, so that jockey Darren Williams did not have to wait much more than 90 minutes to get his first winner on Indian soil.
Greek God came into the 4th race with three wins on the trot and a big reputation; however, those in the know had some doubts about the horse’s fitness. Greek God looked to be in trouble from the start and his jockey looked to be in trouble shortly thereafter as he tried to take a nonexistent opening and struck the horses in front. This resulted in the horse stumbling and Yash Narredu getting the first “rider dislodged” of his career.
In moments like these the nationality of the God does not matter and one does not know if the God was Greek or Hindu but the God’s were definitely on Yash’s side as he escaped unhurt.
Rajsamman, won the race without much ado, one might imagine, answering the prayers of his owners. Presence ran a good race to come 2nd after being M.I.A. for most of the race.
Given the current state of air travel, with planes disappearing from the skies almost on a weekly basis, only the brave would have bought a ticket on Dreamliner. Those who did soon experienced what it might feel like to be on a plane with engine failure as Dreamliner failed to overtake Hidden Asset and Zidaan.
Hidden Asset had the best chance in the race according to handicappers and Hidden Asset had no chance according to the “khabari’s”. As things panned out, the race was won by the handicappers. Hidden Asset was first past the post without working up a sweat, giving young jockey S.Joseph his first and hence possibly his most memorable winner in time to come.
Humility was written large in jockey Joseph’s subsequent actions and it was nice to read Adil Gandhi’s Facebook post regarding how the boy came and sought the continued blessings of those who helped him become a jockey.
With apprentice jockey’s winning 4 of the first 5 races one can only thank the likes of Adil Gandhi and his team, who have worked hard and selflessly to kick start the apprentice jockeys school in Western India.
Silsila was the unlucky one in the race as he got no room along the rails. He should be in the firing line next time out.
The Fair Heaven Trophy was the feature event of the day and had eleven top class contenders hoping to win it. The filed had an open look about it and Falcon ,who was running a trip slightly shorter than he would have liked won the race from Dancing Prances, who was running a trip slightly longer than he would have liked. Both horses went hammer and tongs and it was finally jockey skill that decided which horse won. Heatwave was a disappointment though and possibly felt the class.
Zadora or Full Moon? That was the only question being asked before the 7th race of the day.
With Yash Narredu under medical observation and a jockey change being announced for Zadora, her supporters were getting a bit skeptical about its chances. Once into the straight it became apparent during the last 200 meters that Zadora would prevail over Full Moon inspite of it being the first start of her career. Zadora’s new jockey, D.K. Ashish, showed that he could ride a mean race when required and his sustained effort in the saddle was most impressive.
Both Zadora and Full Moon clocked better timings than either division of the class three races held earlier in the day and should hence win next time out if placed intelligently.
JaydevMody, must have been one happy owner when Artiste claimed the 2nd division of the Capricorn Trophy winning his 3rd race of the day!
Artisite was touted as a racing certainty as her trainer had apparently discovered what was troubling her during the Mumbai season. As the race progressed the trainer proved himself right and Artiste won unopposed.
Considering Artiste’s winning time would have only managed her 7thplace in the lower division of the race she ran one should not get carried away with his win until she wins again and improves on her timing.
Quizzical made a late bid but made no impression on the winner. Valentino hung on in third spot. The rest of the runners didn’t look like they were going to make a name for themselves anytime soon.
The Fine Arrow Plate was the last race of the day and Pappillon surprisingly found himself installed as the firm favourite before the race.
Ricochet took this opportunity to announce his return to form, after a setback to him in the middle of the Mumbai season. He fought it out from Romeo to prevail. Romeo who won on debut as a two year old and then ran two “millions” after that was unlucky to catch a rejuvenated Ricochet. Over a similar trip Romeo should take quite a beating next time out.
(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are the author's personal views.)

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