Trainer Bharath Singh`s solidly fancied runner, Midnight Phantom, ridden by apprentice Pandula Vikram, had an easy measure of the opposition, on Tuesday, to lift the feature event, the Eveready RCTC Gold Cup. The vast New Year`s Day`s crowd also witnessed trainer Vijay Singh`s youngster, Vallerysthal (A. Sandesh) winning the Prized event for babies, the 42 Indian Produce stakes, over 1,200 meters. Finishes were close in the nine-event card and verdicts invariable went the wrong way, to let the always complaining section of satchel-men, have a feast, for a change.
Vikram rode an intelligent race, on Midnight Phantom, in the Gold Vase. Leading a merry dance all the way, the apprentice favoured the horse with a breather, turning for home. His business-like action helped the 3/1 jointly fancied runner -- with Vikash Jaiswal`s Multiglory (Y.S. Srinath) and Harvinder Bath`s Eternally (Neeraj Rawal) – re-collect the horse to ward off a strong challenge from Commander (A. Sandesh) and Ophion (Hindu Singh).
Sandesh was, however, equally enterprising on Vallerysthal while recording a back-to-back victory on the horse from her stable-mate, Jaivant (Neeraj), in the Produce Stakes. The 9/4 favourite was taken to the front within a furlong of the start and the Multidimensional daughter never looked back. In the same race, trainer James McKeown`s potential threat, Trafalgar (Dashrath Singh) and Bharath Singh`s challenger Tia Queen (C.S. Jodha) had become non-starters, having hurt themselves at the start.
The other horse who had let down McKeown`s on the day was the 8/10 favourite, Viareggio (Hindu) in the 1,200m T2 Cup. The horse went down to trainer Bharath Singh`s rank-outsider Jezzabelle, ridden by a leap year jockey, Md Islam who led almost from the start and lasted out win by a nose. Viareggio, on the other hand, was held back, in the mid-bunch with about a furlong from home and thus the defeat. The jockey further tried to win in the stewards` room but his objection for interference did not have the required punch.
Half-an-hour earlier, P. Sai Kumar, a non-too-familiar visiting jockey in the local circles, had guided trainer Robert Gowli`s long-shot Gimme Credit to a pillar-to-post nose-victory over the Suraj Narredu-ridden favourite, Royal Mews, in the 91.9 Friends FM Cup, over 1,100 metres. It was again a similar story of jockey waiting for too long and too far on the favourite and backers of the 16/10 fancy made to pay the price.
Further backwards, and another half-an-hour ago, a quiet gamble was landed by trainer Shafiq Khan`s stable on their six-year-old horse, Cocoanut (Dhanu Deora), in the Aredlis Handicap. However, it was an open-betting race, with Shyam Habbu`s pair of Capo-Di-Capi (Neeraj) and Summerhil (Suraj) along with Bharath Singh`s Bojangles (Dashrath) quoted as a 9/2 favourites.
Bojangles tried to steal a march with a six-length lead but the colt literally came to a screeching halt, inside the last furlong, as almost half of the field, piled on to the leader. It was Cocoanut who managed to put his head ahead-of Summerhill at the wire.
The huge crowd had started day on happy note when trainer Javed Khan`s 6/4 favourite had delivered a goods in the 1,100m Retained Asset Handicap. Ridden well off the pace by Sandesh, The Kiss covered plenty of ground in the home-stretch to beat trainer Shyam Habbu`s Stallone (Suraj) who was seeking a back-to-back win.
Habbu`s and jockey Suraj were, however, back in the winners` enclosure after their inexperienced runner, Singapore Sling carved out a smart victory in the 1,400m Calibre Handicap. The 6/1 shot took over the running within a furlong of the start and lasted out to score.
The Habbu-Suraj pair struck again and heavily when their 5/4 favourite, Southpaw, made every post of the 1,100m Approved Handicap, a winning one; indicating that the horse may strike again.
The Kiss (A Sandesh up) winner of the Retained Asset Handicap
Singapore Sling (Suraj Narredu up) winner of the Calibre Handicap
Speed Force (Imran Chisty up) winner of the Steal The Glory Handicap
Cocoanut (Dhanu Singh Deora up) winner of the Ardelis Handicap
Gimme Credit (P Sai Kumar up) winner of the 91.9 Friends Fm Cup
Jezzabelle (Md Islam up) winner of the T2 Cup
Vallerysthal (A Sandesh up) winner of the 42 Indian Produce Stakes
Midnight Phantom (P Vikram up) winner of the Eveready Rctc Gold Vase
Southpaw (Suraj Narredu up) winner of the Approved Handicap