Deepesh Narredu trained Leopard Rock was rewarded for his consistency when he overcame his traditional rival Iron Age in the dying moments of the race to win the 1200 metres Zavaray Poonawalla Sprinters Challenge, a terms race for four-year-olds and over, the feature event of the first day of the two day Racing Carnival at Mahalakshmi on Saturday. The prolific performer Iron Age shaped to win but closer home sent distress signals and Leopard Rock was able to overhaul the front-runner with a measure of comfort in the hands of jockey Yash Narredu.
The eight-year-old Iron Age had proved near invincible on his home track having amassed 18 wins from 32 outings. He had held off subsequent Sprinters Cup winner Hunting Goddess to win the Dr S C Jain Sprinters Cup. However, Iron Age failed to repeat that performance at Bangalore in the Sprinters Cup, losing to Hunting Goddess. His trianer Imtiaz Sait attributed the loss at Bangalore to his ward not handling the track well and he said that he was pretty optimistic that the zestful eight-year-old would bounce back to winning ways. Bangalore challenger Ins`t She Beautiful who was out handicapped in the race having been rated only 74 vis-à-vis the rating of 117 enjoyed by by Iron Age and Leopard Rock was nevertheless backed to win as the daughter of Excellent Art had shown remarkable improvement and was expected to make her mark in the elite league. However, the luck of the race went against Ins`t She Beautiful who could not be positioned favorably by his jockey Neeraj Rawal and the second favourite was left to cover an impossible leeway. To the credit of Isn`t She Beautiful, she finished the fastest losing by about two lengths at the finish while occupying the fourth slot.
Trevor Patel took Iron Age on a start to finish mission with Leopard Rock in the chase. Isn`t She Beautiful got squezed out of a favourable position as Ashwa Bravo rolled over to the rails, causing the second favourite to be shuffled right back. Iron Age had a good lead going into the final furlong but began to falter when strongly challenged by Leopard Rock. One is not sure whether Iron Age felt his legs but definitely did not produce his finishing kick and was easily overhauled by Leopard Rock in the closing moments of the race. Market King ran on to take the third position, sparing a neck to the fast finishing Isn`t She Beautiful.
Narendra Lagad trained Golden Neil lost by a whisker to Pride`s Angel in a three-horse absorbing finish in the 1400 metres Sweeping Success Million, a race for horses rated 60 to 86. Gr 1 Colts Championship winner Mojito who was running in a handicap race after unsuccessful attempts in the classics, was thought to be a cut above the competition and was backed to the exclusion of the rest despite the fact that he was coming back in distance from a mile and half trip to seven furlongs. Golden Neil, who was bidding for a hat-trick, was taken on a start to finish mission by Mustakim Alam. The fancied runner shaped to win when he shook off Mojito and established a good cushion going into the final furlong. However, the late brilliant rally produced by Pride`s Angel put paid to the hopes of the front-runner as he lost the plot in the concluding stride of the race. Yukan too finished with a rush and was third a short head behind Golden Neil while Mojito was relegated to the fourth slot.
Waheed trained Believe fought off a thrilling battle all the way in the final furlong with The Godfather to lift the Zavaray S Poonawalla Juvenile Mile, a terms race for three-year-olds. Pesi Shroff trained Sea The Sun was the firm favourite as he had finished a suggestive second behind stablemate Christoffle in his last outing and was expected to go one better. Sea The Sun moved up promisingly at the top of the straight but could not build up a lead and struggled under a strong challenge from The Godfather and Believe. Sea The Sun petered out by the final furlong and the other two fought all the way with the lead alternating. Sandesh was able to extract that bit extra from Believe who managed to put his neck in front of the desperately ridden The Godfather. Sea The Sun for a disappointing third, more than five lengths adrift.
Charlie produced his patented late burst to land the spoils in the 1600 metres Turf Authorities of India Million, a race for horses rated 40 to 66. Adhiraj Jodha trained Dangerous had been pretty consistent in the classics but had found the winning post elusive. As the filly was running in a handicap race, it was widely believed that she would romp home despite coming back in distance. In the event, the sharpness of the trip went against Dangerous who rallied late when the cause had been lost. Last start winner It`s My Time who shared favouritism with Dangerous led from the start but was sorted out deep in the straight by Vinesh trained Charlie who got a stranglehold on the race in the closing stages. Dangerous warmed up late but the effort was not good enough to fetch the desired result as she fell short by more than a length. It`s My Time lost the runner-up berth by a neck.
Nazak Chenoy trained Ataash had recorded a facile win last week and that effort was promising for her to go the post in the 1400 metres Blue Horizon Million, a race for horses rated 20 to 46 as a favourite. Trevor Patel rode a measured race on Attash, bringing him into contention by the final furlong and driving out the daughter of Speaking of Which to stave off the challenge of the rest. Kariena finished on strongly but found the front-runner unrelenting. Cipher ran on to take the third slot.
Behram Cama trained Gangster who had run a good forward race last time out brought off an easy win in the 2000 metres Act In Time Million, a race for horses rated 20 to 46. From a forward position, Gangster assumed command by the final furlong and proved overwhelmingly superior to the rest, sparing more than three lengths at the finish to Brave Beauty who was the only one in the proximity Amber Knight held off the more fancied stablemate Jerusalem to save place money. Justin had veered out of a straight course on the last two occasions and had lost possible winning chances, ran this time out, sporting blinkers. Jockey Bhawani Singh, in his eagerness to get a rail run, got badly chopped off as the pace setting Alpine Star rolled over to the rails, ruining whatever chances the fancied runner had.
Adamas ran freely in front and led the field into the final furlong of the 1200 metres Artukoros Million, a race for horses in the lowest category. Adamas lost steam thereafter which allowed the persevering Narendra Lagad trained Charming Star to shoot through. The long shot Charming Star had no problem in staying clear of the field and won with a measure of comfort from Red Dust and the late rallying Arbitrage. Superimpose was squeezed out of contention in the final furlong as the horse ran into a pocket and could not be extricated to get a clear run resulting in his supporters losing whatever hopes they had nursed about the favourite.