There was no aberration to the script in the three graded races that were gone through on Sunday, with horses of impressive credentials living up to their reputation. Dances Prances did no harm to his claim as possibly the best sprinter in the country by annexing the Gr 2 Dr S C Jain Sprinters Championship while last year`s champion Alaindair showed glimpses of the form that made him the champion that he is. In the other graded race of the day, the Gr 3 R N Kanga Gold Trophy, favourite Zachary kept his rivals at bay.
The concept of having such top quality races in a single day would have made much bigger impact with participation of the best horses stationed in the stables at Mahalaxmi. In fact, the Derby week end racing would have been better served by adding these races instead of the mundane lower category races which make for uninteresting racing. If only Amazing Grace had run in the Eclipse Stakes of India, it would have been a grand rehearsal for the Invitation Cup for those who had crossed the classic age.
Dances Prances who weighed 540 kgs last time and just about managed to scrape through in his previous outing looked trimmer by shedding about eight kgs. Dancing Prances had won the last outing displaying his fighting qualities. There were two fresh horses, six year old Brynhill and four year old Solomon attempting to make the grade.
Rosie Sunshine was whipped to take over the running within the first furlong and the filly set a fast pace with Brynhill and Solomon in close proximity while Dances Prances was eased in fourth position ahead of Bullseye and the rest. At the top of the straight, Brynhill moved up strongly even as the others who shadowed him fell behind. Jockey Sandesh on Dancing Prances looked pretty confident as he let Brynhill establish a good leeway. Dancing Prances did not having things easy had to be ridden out to quicken and cover the leeway which the favourite did in the closing moments of the race. Brynhill put up a stupendous effort while going down narrowly in his first effort in this company. Bullseye failed to reproduce her last start effort when she had given a scare to Dancing Prances as she raced flat and finished a poor fourth.
Altamash trained multi-classic winner Alaindair was racing for the first time after a poor effort over the grueling trip of 2800 metres in the St Leger at Pune. He showed out in the paddock parade and went to the post at very cramped odds. Circle of Bliss who had always found Alaindair hard to beat was sluggish at the start as Sheer Class led the three horse field with the favourite settled well in the second position. Srinath let Sheer Class lead well into the straight before shaking the reins on the favourite. Alaindair quickened well and the four year old son of Multidimensional broke clear in a trice and was hailed a winner long way from home. Circle of Bliss made a futile but found the favourite proved too good, the weight difference notwithstanding.
Janardhan trained Zachary was backed to the exclusion of the rest in the mile long Gr 3 R N Kanga Gold Cup and the favourite readily obliged. Zachary was pushed to take over the running with more than a furlong to go in the race and easily held off the late rally of Kolkata challenger Mr Gorgeous and Silver Streak.
The 1400 metres J K Mehta Million, a terms race for three year olds had four runners but the race turned out to be an exciting one with three runners finishing in a line. Spirited Touch led all the way but was strongly challenged by Golden Belle and first timer Bullrun in the final furlong. The trio fought out gallantly with the bobbing of heads favourite Golden Belle to prevail at the expense of Bullrun and Spirited Touch.
The odds drift on Pesi Shroff trained Arrivederci may have dissuaded many a punter from backing the four year old filly in the 1600 metres Koku-Kika Trophy, a race for horses rated 20 to 46. However those who stayed with the ante post favourite stood to gain as Arrivederci led all the way and skipped away from the rest to win with ease from Fireproof with late rallying Santa Ana returning rich dividend on place money.
On money favourite Jack Frost easily accounted for Classic Moment to claim the 1800 metres Sonny Brar Trophy with great deal of ease. Hawker was a well beaten third. The race was named after one of the most passionate breeders that Indian racing has seen.
Pesi trained Goldilocks was the betting rage in the 1400 metres Hello! Classic, a race for horses rated 40 to 66 but the filly disappointed gracing the wrong end of the field. Don Corleone shaped to win but in the battle of wits, Draco managed to get the nod in the final stride of the race.
Another Pesi trained horse to let down was The Unicorn who went to the post as a favourite on the basis of his workouts though the four year old was ridden by Akshay who rarely finds himself astride winners. The six furlong Dr Jagjit Singh Million was claimed by long shot Tap Dance who just about survived the late onslaught of second favourite Melinda to win at fancy odds. The Unicorn was not spotted to be racing with a reasonable chance of winning.