Pesi Shroff`s hot favourite, Botero (Trevor Patel-up) fully justified his odds while winning the 2,800m Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Cup from Cliffhanger (Vinay Jaiswal) here on Saturday. However, Cliffhanger collapsed and died following a cardiac arrest on his way back to the unsaddling areas. Another runner, Mandeville (Dashrath S) also met the same fate, at about 1000m from the winning post. The afternoon was, otherwise, ruled by the trainer-jockey combinations of Akshay Doctor and Akshay Kumar who notched up quadruple of wins each.`
Trevor rode a copy-book race, and did nothing special to win – allowing the early leaders, Psychic Force (Sujit Paswan) and Arabian Queen (Imran Chisty) to alternate the lead till about 800m from home, the half-money favourite took over the running to triumph with a degree of ease. Aashay`s Stockbridge (Akshay), who was ridden off the pace in the early half of the journey, was positioned right behind of the favourite thereafter. Stockbridge did come with a threatening run, passing the distance post but that was all about he could do before Cliffhanger was brought with a late run to easily occupy the second berth.
The 2023 edition of the Queen`s Cup will go into the history as a race full of unfortunate incidents over the grueling trip. First, Mandeville (Dashrath) came a cropper passing the 1000m marker. Second, connections of Cliffhanger`s never got a chance to savor and to cherish the brave act their horse as he collapsed after cardiac arrest on his way back to the unsaddling enclosure.
Now, coming back to the Aashay-Akshay heroics. It all started with the combo notching up the 1,600m Philippines Cu that was easily claimed by the 5/2 favourite Roka. The horse is known for her electrifying finish from the wrong-end of the field. Akshay, for a change, had the horse placed in the mid-division as Randolph (Dashrath), Magic Moment (Arman Khan) Divine Chakra (Chisty) and Summer Air (P. Surya) tested their hooves upfront; until turning for home,. Randolph kicked on and was shaping like a winner when Roka unleashed her known acceleration to score impressively.
Half an hour later, It was Harvestime, who triumphed easily, despite rumours that the Classics aspirant may not have fully recovered after been sidelined for about two months because of sore shins. The four-year-old colt settled easy behind D Yourplayyourway (S. John) and Makhtoob (Gaurav Singh) till about the distance post before doing the needful.
Aashay`s Delphini had been knocking at the door, and in the next 30 minutes after Harvestime`s victory, she romped home with the 1,200m Ranjit Sinha Roy Memorial Sprint, leaving the other well-performed fancied runners like Regency Smile (Chisty), Thousand Words (app Prathvi S) and Faith (Trevor) to sort out the minor placings. It was the speedy Thousand Words who called the shots with New Look (Gauvav), Baaeed (Alex Rozario) and the fancied trio that was in hot chase; until turning for home. However, Akshay switched Delphini, from rails to the out, inside the final 300m and caught up with Thousand Words to make the victory look easy.
Finally, the western India migrant, Pepper, behaved himself at the gates and found the target, to make it look like ‘walk in the park` in the upper division of the 1,200m Caring Mind Cup. Held back behind the runaway speedster, Indian Tiger (app Prathvi), D My Heart (Md Islam) till about the final turn, the 9/10 favourite, Pepper, took over to score as he liked from the second in the betting, Jean Lafitte (Chisty).
Trainer Vijay Singh`s baby, Contribute (Chisty). was the hottest order, in the betting after Botero in the Queen`s Cup, to win the 1,400m Serenone Cup, duly obliged his backers. However, the winner`s stable-mate Gael (Nikhil Naidu) and the second placed Macchiato (Akshay) gave plenty of indications that they were waiting for their turn to strike. Gael is turning out to be a good speedster and Macchiato, once again, ran green and yet placed a good second.
The day`s opener, the 1,200m Deflating Tea Trophy, witnessed trainer Jived Khan`s strongly fancied Tress Bien (Chisty) caught napping in the final few meters of the race by B. Mahesh`s Romero (S. John) while Shyam Habbu`s Taimur`s Choice (app Hasib Alam) came out of the cages like a scalded cat never got tired on her way to claiming the lower division of the Caring Mind Cup by close to six lengths.