Altaf Hussain trained battle-scarred veteran Dancing Prances bounced back to complete three straight wins in the Gr 2 Dr S C Jain Sprinters Cup, a terms race for four-year-olds the feature event of Sunday`s Mumbai races. Champion older horse Alaindair suffered an unexpected defeat in the hands of B Fifty Two in the Gr 3 Deltin Eclipse stakes of India, the other highlight of the day.
Dancing Prances had been ultra-consistent right through this career though his last few runs were below par and he had been losing when he was expected to maintain his supremacy. With no quality sprinter emerging at any part of the country, it is the older horses which have continued to dominate. Critics` Choice who was beginning to make her presence felt, suffered a setback and has been retired to the stud. As such, it was left to horses like Dancing Prances, Gold Bag, Renee and Your Royal Majesty to fight for the spoils in the Sprinter Cup. That fact that Dancing Prances succeeded yet again highlights the fighting spirit of this progeny of Ace as also the fact that there is not much quality among the younger lot.
The betting indicated the openness of the race with Renee being the favourite as she had figured on board prominently without doing anything spectacular. Dancing Phoenix who was once a rousing performer led the field with a strong pace and weakened in the straight to completely go out of reckoning. Dancing Phoenix had a good monsoon season but since then has lost his sharpness. Gold Bag who was fresh from her stint at Kolkata hit the front in the final furlong and battled on resolutely. Dancing Prances who was held back in the rear to exploit his short explosive burst of speed, was brought into contention by jockey Imran Khan with a late dash. The big made Dancing Prances covered ground swiftly and took control of the race in the shadow of the post to record a gutsy win. Your Royal Majesty who has always relished a slightly longer trip, took a long time to warm up and was finishing on aggressively at the post only to miss the runner-up berth by a whisker. Renee was a tame fourth. The first four finishers generally get dominated for the Gr 1 Sprinters Cup which will this year be held at Bangalore on the first Saturday of March.
Altamash Ahmed trained Alaindair was the overwhelming favourite to win the Eclipse Stakes as the others in the fray did not have imposing credentials. The only question mark against Alaindair was the defeat against Colombiana in his last run. Since he was back to racing over a mile and quarter trip, one expected his last defeat to be an aberration. However, it was not to be as his defeat proved. B Fifty-Two had the lead going into the final furlong and though he looked vulnerable, he fought on resolutely to prevail by a neck. Despite an all-out effort by jockey Srinath, Alaindair fell short in the end. This performance indicates that Alaindair is on the decline and makes one less enthusiastic about his prospects in the Invitation Cup which is already loaded against the older horses by virtue of them having to concede four kgs to younger horses. Jack Frost was third.
Mekong Delta built up a false reputation by finishing an eye-catching third in the Indian 1000 Guineas. Since the got-abroad filly was running in a handicap race albeit on worse terms against Pugnacious, she was still fancied to win. A big upset ensued in the 1600 metres Sony Brar Trophy, a race for horses rated 60 to 85. After Khayyam shaped to win the race by having a firm control of the race all the way in the straight, lesser fancied Traherne produced a powerful effort in the closing stages of the race to edge past the front-runner. Pugnacious and Mekong Delta were never in the hunt and finished a miserable third and fourth
Dallas Todywalla trained Irish Bailey won the 1200 metres Dr Jagjit Singh Tribute Salver, a race for horses rated 20 to 46 with a strong performance in the final furlong. Silk Baby who enjoyed favouritism failed to get the better of front-running Triple Threat and fade out of reckoning mid-way in the straight. Irish Bailey then shot through and won quite comfortably from Orla and Rain Dance.
Pesi Shroff-trained Windsor Forest managed to pull it off in the 1400 metres Mid Day Trophy, a race for maiden three-year-olds. Windsor Forest shot ahead from a forward position after battling it out with front-running Angels Touch and held off the late rally off Rochester. The last named was badly drawn and Trevor, after travelling wide, decided to tuck the horse in. Though Rochester was left with a difficult task and seemed to hang, the second favourite finished on powerfully which made one believe that if the horse and the jockey had got their act right, the result could have been different.
Imtiaz Sait trained Carbonara flew on the wide outside to clinch the race from Sawgrass in the 1400 metres Little Hearts Million, a race for horses rated 40 to 66. Miss Saigon who was bidding for her fourth straight win, was hemmed for a clear run all the way in the straight and could only finish third. Apprentice jockey R Ajinkya failed to anticipate the trouble that he could face and his lack of response to the emerging situation hurt the chances of the filly.
Lesser fancied Makino from the stables of Neeraj Rawal emerged an easy winner of the 1400 metres Koku-Kika Trophy (Div I), a race for horses rated 20 to 46. Angel Girl tried hard but found Makino skip away beyond reach. The talk horse in the lower division of the race was Malesh Narredu trained Chizzler who was making a late debut. The progeny of Arazan reportedly had undergone a tie-back operation which was the reason for the delay in having his first start. The market belief was that Chizzler was highly talented and that if he didn`t choke, he would choke opposition! The betting indicated the confidence of the connections and Chizzler did not disappoint with a smashing performance, leaving the field stranded in the final furlong to record an impressive win. Aeolis Maximus was second ahead of Slam Dunk.