Narendra Lagad trained Coeur De Lion proved too good in the 1600 Serjeant At Arms Trophy, a race for horses rated 60 to 86, the feature event of the evening races held on Friday. Evening racing, which included a couple of races under lights, entertainment, and a flea market, was brought back by RWITC after a break of two years. The last two years of racing had been truncated because of the Pandemic. The response from the public was pretty decent.
Coeur De Lion who had finished fifth to Ahead of My Time in the Indian 2000 Guineas was backed with conviction to bounce back in the handicap company despite the fact that a five kg claimer in Mustakim Alam was astride the horse. The apprentice jockey rode a confident race, aggressively pushing the horse to hit the front. Coeur De Lion led all the way and was not troubled by any of the runners when checking in comfortably ahead of the late rallying Rambler to provide the apprentice with the 10th win of his career which entitles him to carry a whip from now onwards.
Coeur De Lion was chased into the straight by Dexa and Chopin who both failed to sustain their challenge, with the former finishing last while the latter going out of contention the moment the other challengers grouped in. Rambler who was a surprise winner in his last outing graced the wrong end before producing a powerful run on the wide outside to come within two lengths of the winner. Raffaello who was handily placed could not make much impression though the five-year-old managed to save place money. Grand Accord who was in the rear group ran on to fill up the frame. Dexa who had won the Poonawalla Multi-Million last year and Chopin who had finished third in the Indian Derby seem to have lost
Karthik Ganapathy trained horses often show an erratic pattern in their running so much so that it is difficult to assess their worth. It proved so with Regal Command who broke the maiden`s rank in the 14th attempt. Regal Command had run 19 days ago and, on that occasion, was sluggish at the start and had finished nearly 10 lengths behind the winner. This time out, Regal Command who was at long odds, won with a measure of comfort, having the race in control all the way in the final furlong. Pesi Shroff had two runners in the fray which were the first two favourites. Wordsmith led from the start, and set a modest pace before weakening in the stretch run. Both of them in a way contributed to the success of Regal Command, one by setting a modest pace and the other by sitting way off the pace.
Chamonix who was the favourite lost her chances when her jockey Kritish Bhagat chose to stay way off the pace so much so that the five-year-old mare could not cover the leeway despite covering ground enormously in the closing stages of the race. Regal Command who travelled well into the straight moved with raking strides from the penultimate position at the final bend and led all the way in the final furlong. Kritish Bhagat obviously rode a misjudged race and lost a possible winning opportunity even before the race came to a boil. Alpha Gene ran on to neck out Wordsmith to take the third position. More often than not, long-distance races are likely a lottery as our jockeys are found wanting when it comes to pace judgment.
Narendra Lagad-trained Golden Neil swamped the opposition in the 1600 metres Roberta Trophy (Div I), a race for horses rated 20 to 46 with a successful start-to-finish win over Pesi Shroff-trained Dragon Lord who once again let down his supporters, finishing second best for the third time in a row. Jockey Sandesh took Golden Neil to the front and dictated a steady pace with Dragonlord in the chase. Golden Neil had a comfortable lead all through. When Golden Neil quickened for home, Dragonlord fell behind and the front-runner went on to record an easy win by three lengths. Lord Fencia pinched the third place from the late rallying Charlie. The well-bred Geographique from the stables of trainer Imtiaz Sait proved overwhelmingly superior in the lower division of the race. Jockey Neeraj Rawal had Geographique track Prince O War into the straight before letting the favourite stretch out. The daughter of Epsom Derby-winning Golden Horn stormed clear of the field to win by a widening margin of six lengths over Goldiva. Brave Beauty displaced the long-time leader Prince O War from the third position.
Dalasan pulled off an improbable win in the 1400 metres La Rondine Trophy, a race for horses rated 40 to 30. Dalasan who was one of the fancied runners was sluggish at the start along with Mariella, the two horses that were to fight it out at the finish. Last-start winner Intense Belief led from the beginning even as the fancied Dalasan had to work his way from way off the pace. Jockey Sandesh did not panic as he brought Dalasan through the crowded field. The trainer Waheed`s trainee moved with powerful strides and managed to draw clear in the closing stages of the race. Mariella showed up on the wide outside and came home with a rush but Dalasan had enough lead to go past the post ahead of the rest. Intense Belief stayed on to take the third position. There was spirited betting on Marlboro Man but he was not spotted to have any chance during the race.
The horses with a run benefit showed remarkable improvement and fought out an absorbing battle in the 1400 metres Karl Umrigar Trophy, a race for maiden three-year-olds. The one to show maximum improvement was Smiles of Fortune which had finished poorly last time out. Jockey C S Jodha had Smiles of Fortune leading by lengths from the start with the heavily backed Waikiki from the stables of M K Jadhav and The General in the chase. Smiles of Fortune was not inclined to give up easily and an all-out effort by jockey N S Parmar helped Waikiki to edge past the front-runner in the dying moments of the race. The General threatened briefly before weakening to finish third.
Narendra Lagad trained seven-year-old gelding Majestic Warrior who was neglected in the betting ring despite a suggestive run last time out, pulled off a thrilling win in the 1200 metres Dangerous Liason Trophy, a race for horses rated 40 to 66. The market fancies were Dragoness and Lord Vader. Jockey Mustakim Alam had Majestic Warrior chase stablemate Northern Singer into the straight before pushing his horse to take charge. Majestic Warrior then surged ahead but was hard-pressed by Lord Vader all the way in the final furlong and in the closing strides of the race by the late finishing Dragoness who despite a sluggish start was gradually brought into contention by N S Parmar. Down the final furlong, it looked as though Lord Vader would be able to overhaul the front runner who dug deep to thwart Lord Vader and then survived the finishing burst of Dragoness to win by the proverbial whisker.
Altaf Hussain trained Divine Thoughts was backed to the exclusion of the rest as the four-year-old filly had imposing form considering the weak opposition she was taking on in the 1000 metres Berlioz Trophy (Div I), a race for horses rated 20 to 46. Sandesh had no problem in steering the favourite to a start-to-finish win. Inishmore threatened briefly to upset the favourite but weakened in the final furlong. The favourite bounced clear to eventually win with a great deal of ease. Hilma Klint ran on late to take the second position ahead of Inishmore. Pesi Shroff trained Hunting Goddess who was running after a long gap of 335 days was nevertheless backed strongly to win the lower division of the race. On the last occasion, the five-year-old had recorded a breath-taking win from way off the pace. Hunting Goddess was working well and hence the one-sided support for her success was well justified. Second favourite Mojo set the pace with Pradeep Chouhan on Hunting Goddess sitting pretty in the third position. Hunting Goddess covered the leeway on the front-runner in the homestretch with hardly any effort on the part of the jockey. The five-year-old mare left the field standing in the final furlong winning by a widening margin of five lengths despite being eased up. Mojo stayed on to take the second position ahead of Champagne Smile.