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Elpenor wins Poonawalla Million in breath-taking fashion
Review: By: Sharan Kumar
February 26 , 2023

Sulaiman Attaollahi trained Elpenor won the Gr 1 Poonawalla Breeders’ Multi-Million, a terms race for three-year-olds, the biggest race for first-season runners, in breath-taking fashion at the Mahalakshmi on Sunday. The progeny of Elpenor unleashed such a devastating turn of foot that it had the entire opposition stranded. Elpenor cut a fast timing of one minute 21.542 seconds with jockey Suraj Narredu not having to go all out.

Suraj thus fulfilled his long-standing ambition of winning this prestigious race which had eluded him thus far in his illustrious career. This was the second success for trainer Sulaiman Attaollahi in this event. Elpenor is bred at the Poonawalla Stud Farm. The stud farm produce has been winning this race with amazing regularity.

In Mumbai, talent doesn’t whisper but shouts! Every time a horse wins in splendid fashion, he or she is hailed as the best horse in the country so much so that performers from other centres are rarely acknowledged. Time and again, horses from Bangalore have reminded the racegoers that they should not just focus on the local talent. Talent elsewhere is as good or even better.


Pesi Shroff trained Jamari who had won a mile event in impressive fashion was the favourite though looking at the quality of the field, none looked as being a cut above the rest. The same however could not have been said about Elpenor whose debut win had class written about it, especially for the turn of foot displayed that only a few horses are capable of. Elpenor perhaps was grudgingly acknowledged as being a formidable contender though he lacked experience having won a race just a fortnight ago. While Elpenor enhanced his reputation after his smashing win, the others who had hype about them turned out to be ordinary. Elpenor is easily the best three-year-old that one has seen this year at this point in time.

Trevor Patel had no hesitation in taking Jamari on a start-to-finish mission followed by Irish Gold, Portofino Bay, Fighton, Generosity, Waikiki, Dream Alliance, Believe, Elpenor, Smiles of Fortune and debutant Destroyer from Kolkata. Fighton chased Jamari into the straight with Portofino Bay in proximity and the others making an attempt to bridge the gap. The complexion of the race changed the moment Suraj set alight Elpenor on the wide outside. The Excellent Art-Elena gelding produced a stunning gallop and his withering acceleration floored the rest. Elpenor flew past those in front with contemptuous ease and his terminal sprint ensured a win by a widening margin of four lengths over Jamari who just about held off the late rallying Dream Alliance to retain the runner-up berth. Waikiki filled up the frame.

We had planned to race Elpenor in January and then race him in the Breeders Produce Stakes on the Derby at Mumbai as lead up to the Poonawalla Multi-Million but since he had a fever, the plans had to be changed. We had some apprehension about travelling him and throwing him at the deep end in 16 days’ time since winning a race in Bangalore. However, we decided to give it a try as he was entered for the race and are happy that it came off, said Sulaiman elated at his second success, the first one having come on Forest Flame. Elpenor was brought at the Poonawalla Auction Sales for a relatively modest price of Rs 18 lakhs. As they say in racing, price is only notional and that doesn’t define talent.

Shiraz Sunderji who was going through a lean patch had a rewarding day, saddling three winners. Market King who had been running fair races, found an ideal opposition to record a long overdue win in the 1200 metres Ruffina Trophy, a race for horses rated 80 and above. The speedy Sky Fall did the pace-setting followed by Mozelle with Sandesh placing Market King in the third position while the rest were spaced out behind. Sandesh got busy on Market King approaching the final 300 metres. The progeny of Leitir Mor steadily bridged the gap and surged ahead in the next furlong and held off the late bid of Baby Bazooka who showed some zest after a longish break. Mozelle stayed on to take the third position while Sky Fall fell back to the rear.

Luck had deserted Sandesh who had the mortification of losing three races by the shortest of margins since yesterday. However, he broke the jinx astride Shiraz Sunderji trained Dream Seller who held off stablemate Ultimo by a nose. Backed to the exclusion of the rest, Dream Seller led from the start but looked vulnerable when Ultimo essayed a strong challenge in the final furlong. Sandesh this time out was able to get Dream Seller to save the day by the skin of his teeth. Debutant Ciana was third more than three lengths behind.

Luck once again favoured Shiraz Sunderji when long shot Nolan came up with a late rally to snatch the verdict in the closing stride of the race from Twelfth Earl in the 1200 metres Mystical Trophy (Div I), a race for horses rated 20 to 46. Jetfire had the lead going into the final furlong with Twelfth Earl who made rapid strides with a ground-saving run essaying a big challenge. Just as Twelfth Earl got the better of the front-runner, Nolan came home with a powerful surge, covered the leeway and at the post was ahead by a nose. Ajinkya rode the winner. Jetfire was a close third. Subhag Singh trained Majorella Blue led all the way and staved off the bid of Toussaint to land the spoils in the lower division of the race as a long shot. Remy Red was third while favourite Monarchy was never in the hunt.

Dallas Todywalla trained Rodrigo and Altaf Hussain schooled Soup And Sandwich were both backed in equal measure to win the 1000 metres Florrie & Freddy Sopher Gold Trophy, a race for horses rated 60 to 86. Soup And Sandwich flew from the gates in the hands of apprentice jockey Haridas Gore and was never headed. Favourite Rodrigo failed to pick up momentum and could not overhaul even Cellini and had to settle for the third slot.

Favourite Zarak from the stables of trainer Waheed eked out a thrilling win over Murwara Princess in the 2400 metres Astonish Trophy, a race for horses rated 40 to 66. Imran Chisty kept Zarak in the last position as Alpine Star set the pace followed by Murwara Princess and Keifer. Alpine Star held the lead deep into the straight before surrendering to Murwara Princess who was put under intense pressure by the quickly improving Zarak. The latter managed to head Murwara Princess in the waning yards of the race to oblige as a favourite. Keifer was third while Alpine Star receded to the rear.

Faisal Abbas trained Scottish Scholar pulled off an upset win in the 1400 metres Satinello Trophy, a race for horses in the lowest category. From a forward position, Scottish Scholar shot ahead and won comfortably in the hands of jockey Amyn Merchant. Nord gave a hot chase but failed to sustain and even conceded the runner-up berth to late rallying Malakhi.

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