In keeping with the trend of favourites biting the dust, lesser fancied Champion Bull from the stables of trainer M Srinivas Reddy held off the challenge of heavily supported favourite Be Sure to win the1400 metres Sri S Ramakrishnam Raju Memorial Cup, a race for horses rated 60 to 85, the feature event of Monday`s races held at Malakpet. Champion Bull was winning a race after drawing a blank during the winter season.
Be Sure had reeled off two wins in a row before being withdrawn on the Invitation Cup day due to fever. The extensive track works indicated that the five-year-old mare was ready to resume her winning ways. Despite many favourites not obliging, Be Sure got enthusiastic support from the beleaguered punters resulting in Be Sure ending up as a strong favourite. Champion Bull was next in demand albeit at nourishing odds. New Port who had a few supporters to make his mark over the extended trip, however, was withdrawn from the fray at the gates. Pentagon showed the way and enjoyed the lead till midway through the stretch. At this point, Champion Bull went ahead with Be Sure essaying a strong challenge. Under the driving finish of jockey Sandesh, Champion Bull had enough reserves to keep the favourite at bay. Meritocracy took the third spot from the late rallying Starlight who overcame a poor start and finished on purposefully.
Racing at Malakpet can often be puzzling. Either he could see a parade of favourites sweeping the card or their inexplicable poor performances. Laxman Singh trained Southern Lady had the benefit of a good forward run and was backed to the exclusion of the rest in the 1200 metres Flowersoftheforest Plate, a race for horses rated 20 to 45 but restricted to three-year-olds. The withdrawal of Spiritual resulted in Southern Lady going to the post at very cramped odds. The day`s racing showed a preference for those making a start to finish bid. Lesser fancied Kionia from the stables of trainer Leo D`Silva was taken on a start to finish mission by apprentice jockey Afroz Khan. Southern Lady threatened briefly in the straight before fading out. Kionia skipped clear in the final furlong to win the race easily from Angelo Tesoro while Southern Lady was a disappointing third after having finished ahead of the winner by four lengths in their previous clash. Zip Zip Zip jumped outwards at the start and dislodged its jockey Koushik.
Satheesh trained Mark My Word was driven out tenaciously by jockey Nakhat Singh to contain the challenge of Exclusive Blue in the 1600 metres Shivakumar Lal Memorial Cup, a race for horses rated 40 to 65. Mark My Word had given hope of being a top-notch performer last winter but was sorted out in the classics and his last run was a miserable one in the Golconda Derby where he had finished more than 40 lengths behind Indian Pharaoh. On the other hand, Exclusive Blue and Cape Kidnappers who had the benefit of running in the Bangalore classics were the preferred horses with the first-named being the on money favourite. Mark My Word led from the start with Exclusive Blue in a handy second position along with Humaaghar while Cape Kidnappers was in the fourth position. In the stretch, Exclusive Blue essayed a strong challenge and the front-runner looked vulnerable. However, Mark My Word dug deep into reserves and battled on resolutely and effectively snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Sandesh tried his best on the favourite but failed. Cape Kidnappers made no impression while finishing a poor third.
Satyanarayana trained City of Sails who hadn`t won for 658 days had the benefit of a good forward run last week and this perhaps helped sharpen up the five-year-old gelding who aggressively led in front in the Division III of the Regency Plate, a race for horses rated 20 to 45 and won with a great deal of ease from Golden Hope and Vijays Empress. Apprentice jockey Rohit Kumar had no hesitation in taking the fancied runner to the front and the race was as good as over thereafter. In the straight, the only challenger was Golden Hope who found the front-runner slipping away. Vijay`s Empress was third more than seven lengths adrift of the runner-up.
There is always a danger in blindly trusting those who had summered at Bangalore and quite often there is a shortfall between expectation and performance. Hilton Sequeira trained Exclusive Art was backed to the exclusion of the rest to win the 1400 metres Set Alight Plate, a race for maiden three-year-olds. After Mind Reader led deep into the straight, Suraj Narredu was able to push Queen Runner who had also summered at Bangalore to take charge. Exclusive Art took a long while to get into her rhythm and by the time the favourite came on the wide outside with a strong run, Queen Runner was already in the vicinity of the post and managed to cling on to the lead. Star of Tiara was third not far from the winner.
After a series of favourites failed to oblige expectations, Leo D`Silva trained Escalating Striker came to the rescue of the punters with an all-out effort in the Vijays Conquer Plate (Div I), a race for horses rated up to 25. Story Teller led for the most part of the trip but in the final100 metres shifted out of the rails which allowed Escalating Striker to slip through and beat the front-runner close home. Mossad saved place money.
Vittal Deshmukh trained Actually benefitted by the run that she had 10 days ago and won the 1600 metres Regency Plate (Div I) as a strongly backed favourite. Apprentice jockey Surya Prakash had Actually take charge from the start and though in the final furlong the favourite came under pressure from fast-finishing Avantika, the five-year-old mare held on grimly to the lead to win by half a length. Semira saved place money. New Comer who was in the betting lost all his chances at the gate itself with a slow jump.
Waseem Ahmed trained Vallee Ikon brought off a big upset in the 1200 metres Vijays Conquer Plate (Div II), a race for horses rated up to 25. Country`s Gift was the firm favourite, but apprentice jockey Santosh Raj could not drive out the horse to contain the challenge of the front-runner who stayed on doggedly in front. Rhine, who was also in the betting, ran green but finished on strongly along the rails only to miss the runner-up berth by a whisker.
City Of Sails (Rohit Kumar up) winner of the Regency Plate (Div-II)
Queen Runner (Suraj Narredu up) winner of the Set Alight Plate
Mark My Word (Nakhat Singh up) winner of the Shivkumar Lal Memorial Cup
Kionia (Afroz Khan up) winner of the Flowersoftheforest Plate
Escalating Striker (C Umesh up) winner of the Vijays Conquer Plate (Div-I)
Champion Bull (A Sandesh up) winner of the Sri S Ramakrishnam Raju Memorial Cup
Actually (Surya Prakash up) winner of the Regency Plate (Div-I)
Vallee Ikon (B R Kumar up) winner of the Vijays Conquer Plate (Div-II)