Altaf Hussain trained Sultan Suleiman who was once fancied to win the Pune Derby but was denied the chance due to a setback a day before the big race, has always proved to be top horse in handicap races over a trip of seven furlongs. The progeny of Arazan hence enjoyed strong support to strike in the 1400 metres Delhi Race Club Trophy, a race for horses rated 80 and above, the feature event of the opening day`s races of the Pune season which got off to a belated start on Sunday. And the punters who put faith in him were happy that they maintained their trust in him.
There was uncertainty about the start of the season which had to be delayed due to lack of governmental clearance. The Maharashtra Government perhaps is in a state of slumber going by its reluctance to permit the racing activity when the whole country has opened up. The RWITC authorities must be complimented for their efforts to get the season going though they were forced to conduct races without allowing spectators. It is a pity that governmental idiosyncrasies can affect the sport in a substantial way.
The off-course betting on Pune races was conducted at all the racecourses barring Bangalore. The Bangalore Turf Club which is infamous for fighting with everyone including racehorse owners, trainers, jockeys, punters, the government, the corporation, the animal welfare associations and the Press are also engaged in an ego battle with RWITC over the Royalty issue. The BTC mandarins have reportedly taken a tough stance resulting in one of the Stewards who is perceived as a representative/agent of RWITC walking out of the meeting on Sunday morning. The punters were thus denied an opportunity to take part in the proceedings of their favourite racing centre. Interestingly, the Chairman of the Club had put out a notice to members that off-course betting operations would be conducted on both Hyderabad and Pune races.
Be that as it may, Sultan Suleiman did not have worthy challengers as many of the contenders in the fray had seen better days. Jockey N S Parmar rode an unhurried race, settling the favourite in about the fourth or fifth position before getting him going at the top of the straight. Sultan Suleiman picked up speed with great enthusiasm to overhaul the long-time leader St Andrews to win with a measure of comfort. Grand Accord who was lazy at the start ran on strongly at the finish to take the second slot ahead of the long-time leader St Andrews.
Apprentice jockey Kritish Bhagat on long-shot outrode the more superior Pradeep Chouhan who was astride the favourite Medora in the 1400 metres Strategic Move Plate, a race for horses rated 20 to 46. Chouhan took Medora on a start to finish mission. Bhagat had Minx settle into a nice rhythm with a measured run along the rails in about the fourth position. Medora had the initiative all the way in the straight. The daughter of Multidimensional didn`t quicken the way she was expected to. The stablemate of the favourite, Minx steadily gained ground on the favourite and was striding clear at the finish even as Bhagat could afford to relax even before hitting the post. Petronia who literally slept in the gates was shaken up to make rapid strides in the straight and was full of running when pinching the third slot ahead of Chancellor.
Shazaan Shah trained Joaquin was well prepared to strike in the 1000 metres Alley Cat Plate, a race for horses rated 40 to 66. Jockey Zervan settled Joaquin in the second position as Wild Fire ran in her customary front running style before fading out. Joaquin took command of the race with a furlong left in the race and drew clear to win with a measure of comfort from the late rallying Endeavor and Aegon.
Marvellous from the stables of Pesi Shroff was perceived to be too good for the rest in the 1200 metres Eloise Plate, a race for three-year-olds but the trust appeared to be misplaced. Marvellous raced keen in front but had nothing much to offer when Red Merlot essayed a strong challenge in the final furlong. The Narendra Lagad trainee easily collared the front-runner and sped clear to win with ease. Nothing To Worry was in the third position five lengths adrift of the runner-up.
Malesh Narredu trained Flaming Fire perhaps had the maximum number of workouts for a three-year-old making his debut. Flaming Fire had the benefit of a mock race at Bangalore and had been regularly seen in work and as such, collared strong support to win the 1400 metres Classic Talk Plate, a race for maiden three-year-olds. Flaming Fire did oblige in the hand but had to be extended to the full to get the measure of Kokomo in the closing strides of the race. Flaming Fire looked like a horse who would be better off tackling longer trips. Regal Command too closed with a rush to be a notable third.
Backed to the exclusion of the rest, the well-prepared Cellini from the stables of veteran trainer Bezan Chenoy had no problem in swamping the opposition in the 1200 metres Goodness Gracious Plate (Div I), a race for horses rated 20 to 46. Beemer made a late dash to be second ahead of Goshawk. Antia trained Dilbar went on a successful start to finish mission in the lower division of the race-winning competently. Favourite On Va Danser who was lost in the crowd made a late entry and managed to get second place from Blazing Bay.
M K Jadhav trained Peppoli raced with intent from the word `go`, was angled out in the stretch by jockey Prashanth Dhebe to get a clear run. The lesser fancied runner picked up speed tremendously to go clear in the final 100 metres to win the 1000 metres Nauvkhal Trophy (Div I), a race for the lowest-rated horses. Grand Architect made a strong rally but it was not good enough to overhaul the front-runner. Lambretta ran on to take the third slot. Imtiaz Sait trained Sandra`s Secret made a strong rally along the rails to pull off a thrilling win over favourite Sufiyah and long-time leader La Peregrina in the lower division of the race.