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Immortality provides Shroff ninth Indian Oaks success

By: Frankel   March 7 , 2021

Pesi Shroff trained Immortality showed amazing improvement despite lacking in racing experience by pouncing on favourite Forest Flame in the closing stages of the race and prevailing by a whisker to lift the Gr 1 Villoo Poonawalla Indian Oaks, the third classic of the season, on Sunday at Mahalakshmi. Pesi Shroff who has dominated this race since he became a trainer, saddled a record-breaking ninth winner of the race. But then for Pesi who is so used to setting new benchmarks in his career first as a jockey and now as a trainer, he would take this as yet another classic win, the 59th of his short career of which 20 are Indian classics.

Bangalore challenger Forest Flame who was a dual classic winner and was unlucky not to have won the Bangalore Derby, losing to stablemate Lagarde due to the luck of the race going against her, was installed the favourite. The form of the filly was further flanked by the gusty win recorded by Lagarde earlier in the day in the Gr 1 Ruia Trophy. There was some support for South India Derby winner Born Queen. Immortality was considered as the likely horse to cause the upset despite this being the only third run of her career. Her victory in the Golconda Oaks showed that she would beat them all when it came to the question of stamina over speed.

In the end, Forest Flame despite a top-class ride given by Trevor Patel who saved the filly brilliantly for the final assault was beaten in the concluding stride of the race in the bobbing of heads by Immortality on whom veteran jockey Pradeep Chouhan rediscovered his riding prowess. The rest of the positions on the frame were also filled up Pesi Shroff`s other runners Alluring Silver, Arcadia and Seasons Greetings who finished in the order mentioned thus highlighting why Pesi is such a formidable trainer with a fleet of top-class horses. Another Bangalore challenger Born Queen who ran into rough weather during the race being boxed in by Fire N Ice and Alluring Silver ran way below expectations.

Successor set a fast pace but nobody chased the pacesetter. Arcadia was in the second position and she in fact effectively became the pace-setter. Born Queen was in the mid-group along with Alluring Silver while Immortality, Forest Flame and Lombardy were in the rear group. Arcadia had her moment in the sun when she led the field into the final before being overwhelmed by Forest Flame who was brought into contention with a ground-saving effort by Trevor Patel to take charge. Forest Flame shaped like she was going to win but she couldn`t sustain the speed at which she covered the field. Jockey Pradeep Chouhan brought Immortality with a powerful run on the wide outside. Both the fillies fought all the way in the final furlong before the superior staying prowess of Immortality saw her put her head in front at the all-important end. Alluring Silver ran on to take the third position ahead of her stablemates. Born Queen did not get a clear passage between Fire N Ice and Alluring Silver but then she looked a beaten horse well before that interference took place.

Immortality`s win surely brings her into contention for the Indian Derby to be run on March 28 along with Forest Flame. Lagarde who had won the Ruia trophy earlier in the day will be another frontline contender having beaten Forest Flame in Bangalore Derby over a similar trip, Nisus has the class but one is not sure whether he would get the extended trip of a mile and a half. Barring these horses, the others could only be considered as challengers. It all depends on how these horses train for the race and the rest depends on the luck of the race. Kolkata challenger Black Pearl whose training scheduled has been interrupted due to a strike back home was confined to the stables for more than two weeks and how this will have a bearing on his fitness will determine his chances in the Indian Derby though on the class he qualifies as a strong threat with the only disadvantage being the disastrous interruption in the work schedule.

Sulaiman Attaollahi trained Lagarde extended his winning streak to four when staving off another Bangalore challenger Nisus in the Gr 2 Ramniwas Ramnarain Ruia Gold Cup, a terms race for four-year-olds, the other highlight of the day. The Bangalore Derby winner once again found himself in the front and jockey Akshay Kumar was unperturbed. Lagarde dictated a steady pace. Nisus who was shadowing the front-runner joined the issue in the straight and the two fought almost the length of the straight before Lagarde got stronger at the finish and spared half a length at the finish. Nisus looked like overhauling Lagarde when he drew level at one stage but the latter pulled off that bit extra to clinch the issue. North Star and Roaring Tiger both finished on purposefully to occupy the next two slots on the frame and could look forward to the Derby with hope.

Malesh Narredu trained Leopard Rock recorded his fourth win of the season when easily containing the late bid of favourite Costa Rica to win the 1200 metres M N Nazir Trophy, a race for horses rated 40 to 66. Leopard Rock shot away from the pack inside the final furlong and made light of the top weight of 62 kgs when drawing clear of the field. Costa Rica rallied from behind but it was clear that she had lost the race to the top weight and all that she could achieve was to take the second slot ahead of Skyfall.

Sandesh drove out Shiraz Sunderji trained Kamilah to victory in the 1400 metres Rochester Trophy, a race for maiden three-year-olds. After Visionary led the field and weakened in the stretch, Ahead of His Time who had run a wayward race last time out, was better prepared to run a straight forward race and grabbed the lead going into the final furlong. However, Ahead of His Time failed to sustain his lead when Kamilah came home with a big effort and easily overtook the front-runner to record an easy win. Favourite Alfayiz took time to warm up but managed to nose out the long-time leader to get the runner up berth. Jockey Zervan took an ambitious objection against Sandesh who rode the winner for interference but the same was overruled as having no substance.

Imtiaz Sait trained Justified who hadn`t seen the winning post for about 694 days found the company comfortable enough to assert his supremacy in the 2400 metres R R Byramji Trophy, a race for horses rated 20 to 46. Justified moved swiftly from about the fourth position at the final bend and covered the leeway on the front-runners quite competently and managed to get past Brazos to eventually win by a widening margin of two lengths. Brazos stayed on to take the second position ahead of favourite Socrates who struggled throughout to improve and ended up being a tame third. Cabo Da Roca who attracted considerable betting graced the wrong end of the field from the beginning and made very little progress during the race.


Theodora (Kirtish Bhagat up) winner of the Thanksgiving Plate (Div-I)

Gold Crest (A S Peter up) winner of the Tricumdas Dwarkadas Trophy (Div-II)

Storm Breaker (Akshay Kumar up) winner of the P D Avasia Trophy

Justified (A Sandesh up) winner of the R R Byramji Trophy

Steppenwolf (K Nazil up) winner of the Tricumdas Dwarkadas Trophy (Div-I)

Lagarde (Akshay Kumar up) winner of the Ramniwas Ramnarain Ruia Gold Cup (Gr.3)

Kamilah (A Sandesh up) winner of the Rochester Trophy

Immortality (P S Chouhan up) winner of the Villoo Poonawalla Indian Oaks (Gr.1)

Leopard Rock (Y S Srinath up) winner of the M N Nazir Trophy

On Va Danser (P S Kaviraj up) winner of the Thanksgiving Plate (Div-II)

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