SGanapathy who has won India`s richest juvenile million race, the Gr 1 Poonawalla Breeders` Multi-Million a number of times but had been running a bad patch in the last few years, bounced back to his wonted form when his ward Murioi came up with a brilliant burst of speed from way behind to win the race from favourite Starry Eyes who put all into her effort but fell short narrowly on Sunday. Marinsky who raced prominently could not pick up speed at a crucial stage and finished a tame third. Murioi added to the growing list of the accomplishments of Hazara Stud Farm whose produce has virtually swept the big races in what should be considered as a golden splash for the Nirmal Singh promoted farm.
The race which is conducted with glamour and glitz by the Poonawalla Family has always been a big draw on the Mumbai racing calendar with participants from all over the country enhancing the value of this race. Many horses which have won this race have gone on to achieve greater feats like Forest Fantasy who won the Indian Invitation Cup. Horses which are precocious and already have a few runs have a great advantage in this race as experience plays a crucial role in a crowded field as the horse has to tackle not only the opposition but have the maturity to handle the problems all along imposed by a big field which results in cramping for space. Incidentally, Murioi who was the eventual winner was running for the fourth time in his brief career. The winner took home in excess of Rs 1 crore which is also some sort of a record for a race of this kind.
Starry Eyes had won her last outing impressively and had given indication that she belonged to a higher league. Being out of first season stallion Multidimensional, there was great deal of expectation and she was the favourite even though there were several runners in the fray with tall claims. Senor Bella who had won twice, Marinsky, Dancing Prances, Albertino and Dancing Phoenix were all reckoned to have a fair chance. The last named had scored an impressive win over six furlongs but the biggest disadvantage for the progeny of stallion sensation Phoenix Tower was that he was running within a weak which was bound to compromise his performance given the recovery factor in such cases. The well-bred and good looking Murioi had gone into the race as a maiden after having been disqualified for dangerous interference after winning a race. The reason why he went into the race at lucrative odds was because in his subsequent run after disqualification, he had run way below par.
The speedy Dancing Phoenix led the field from the start with Marinsky, Emperor of Prince, Dancing Prances all racing within striking distance. Starry Eyes was in about the fifth or sixth position along with Albertino while Murioi while attempting to take a forward position early on was knocked around and had to be kept in the rear guard which in hindsight helped his cause as his patented turn of foot at a decisive stage of the raced helped him to pull it off.
Dancing Phoenix led the field into the straight with Marinsky despite being handily placed unable to make a forward thrust. Albertino showed up on the wide outside but flattered to deceive. It was Starry Eyes and Murioi who raced the widest of the lot who looked menacing. The latter showed greater speed which proved decisive in the end as he held off a narrow lead to thwart the bid of the favourite by a neck. Jockey David Allan who rode Starry Eyes raised an objection against Sreekanth who rode the winner for interference but the same was overruled as the grounds were not strong enough to reverse the verdict. Marinsky finished third ahead of Dancing Prances.
The victory was a great boost to jockey Sreekanth Byre Gowda who has been in the limelight after being retained by turf baron Dr M A M Ramaswamy.
The other highlight of the day was the victory of Hachiko over seven furlongs in a record time of one minute 21.70 seconds over D�j� vu in the 1400 metres Rusi Patel Trophy, a race for horses rated 80 and above. Incidentally Hachiko was the winner of last year`s Poonawalla Million and fittingly, after a series of disappointing efforts, he bounced back to winning in great style on the day he came into big reckoning. The timing was an improvement over the old nearly by nearly a second. Hachiko who took control of the proceedings inside the final furlongs was not unduly pressed when checking in well clear of late rallying D�j� vu.