Cooji Katrak trained Shivalik Storm landed the richest race for juveniles by claiming the 25th edition of the Gr 1 Poonawalla Breeders Multi-Million, the glamour event of the races held on Sunday. The race was Be Safe`s for the asking but thanks to a rank bad ride by jockey Sreekanth, the race slipped away and Shivalik Storm was the beneficiary.
For the Hazara Stud Farm which has had a glorious run the whole of last year, it was a back to back success in this event, with their first season stallion Dancing Forever siring the winner. Last year`s winner Murioi was also bred at the stud farm which had the satisfaction of getting a 1-2 this year. The winner is jointly owned by Hazara Stud Farm promoter Nirmal Singh and others.
The Poonawalla Multi-Million has always proved to be a jinx for the favourites. And so it proved though the loser was easily the best horse in the fray. Sometimes the unwieldy field or the pace of the race have been unsettling factors but this time out Be Safe lost not because she was lacking in any aspect except that the jockey was overawed by the occasion as well as the fact that he was riding an overwhelming favourite. Sreekanth had won this event last year and has been astride many classic winners but it is a different ball game altogether when riding a favourite. All his classic and big race wins have come against the run of expectations and as such, riding a cramped on money faovurite in a momentous race like this was bound to affect his brittle temperament. He was caught in two minds about the route he should take from the start and appeared to have frozen at the prospect of losing the race so much so that in the final 100 metres he could not ride the way he is capable of. The RWITC Stewards too expressed their dissatisfaction at the incompetent manner in which the jockey lost a winning opportunity and suspended him for four race days. For Malesh Narredu, who has won this race a couple of times as a rider, the success as a trainer would have been a giant leap in his professional career but it was not to be.
Shivalik Storm (A Sandesh up) winner of the Poonawalla Breeders` Multi-Million (Gr.1), being led in by trainer C D Katrak & Mr.Vikram Singh
Be Safe had won all his three outings in sensational manner and since he had already beaten the major local contestants, his victory was taken for granted. The short price quoted on him was in keeping with this belief. Shivalik Storm who had won twice was quoted at nourishing odds with the rest of the runners available at fancy odds. Be Safe who was drawn wide had a slight interference at the start as Eragon jumped outwards and jockey Sreekanth ducked towards the rails where he chose to keep the favourite till the final turn. War Command went on a start to finish mission followed by Solomon, Quasar, Shivalik Storm, Hunting Pleasure, Speed King, Nesto, Romeo, Tatiana, Be Safe and Eragon.
War Command brought the field into the homestretch and was not inclined to give up easily even as Solomon made a strong bid and faded away. Shivalik Storm appeared to be under pressure well before the final bend and jockey Sandesh had to go off the bridle and use the whip to keep him in the hunt. In the meanwhile, Sreekanth on Be Safe had swung wide and began to essay his challenge. Inside the final furlong, War Command went across the field and began to race on the outer rail which perhaps ruined a possible winning chance. Shivalik Storm gathered steam under a relentless ride by Sandesh and gained ascendancy inside the final 100 metres by going ahead of Quasar. Nesto too made significant rally along the rails. Be Safe who was improving places all by himself finished with menacing strides. Had Sreekanth ridden out in his usual style, the horse would have done the rest for him. However, it was not to be as he was unable to add vigor into his ride and Shivalik Storm escaped to victory by a fast diminishing margin of a neck. War Command was another neck behind on the outer rail while Quasar stayed on to claim the fourth slot ahead of Nesto who improved significantly along the rails but lacked that bit extra to make a difference to the outcome.
Dallas Todywalla trained Silver Streak has proved unbeatable whenever he has run in handicap races. After running a fair fourth against Amelia over a sprint, Silver Streak was running in the more suitable 1400 metres Rusi Patel Trophy, a race for horses rated 80 and above. Neath who had finished ahead of Silver Streak in their last encounter went to the post as the strong favourite. The margin between the two runners on the last occasion did not reflect the true merit of these two winners but those who were strictly guided by straightforward difference backed Neath. Jockey Trevor Patel went on a start to finish mission and skipped away in the final furlong to win with ease from Winston who gave a chase in vain. Neath ran on from behind to finish a poor third. Silver Streak is in such good form that the trainer can squeeze in yet another win if he places his ward cleverly next time out.
There has been more hype than substance this season with the horses associated with Pesi Shroff. First timer Mine Forever was backed down spiritedly to win the 1200 metres Hong Kong Jockey Club Trophy, a terms race for three year maidens. The experienced Shivalik Breeze profited by the two forward runs that she had by going on a start to finish mission and winning untroubled. Mine Forever kept company with the front runner well into the straight but went nowhere under pressure. Angeling finished second ahead of a late rallying Something Special who covered plenty of ground to finish a noteworthy third. There were two horses in the fray, Fatal Attraction and Unico Corazon, which were by Epsom Derby winner Authorized and it was surprising to see them being raced in a sprint race.
Cooji Katrak trained Mykonos who had let down this season as a fancied runner was however much better than the rest in the 1000 metres Serum Institute of India Trophy, a race for horses rated 60 to 86. Sandesh had no problem in guiding the four year old filly to win start to finish. Catharsis and Emperor of France battled for the second spot, with the former prevailing by a whisker. Now that Mykonos had regained his winning form, he can repeat.
Antia trained Heatwave has defied expectation each time he has run. He had scored two wins over seven furlongs and as such, the 1200 metres Satinello Trophy, a race for horses rated 40 to 66, was reckoned to be sharp. Isadoro and Song Saa were the ones expected to be concerned at the finish. Song Saa shot into the lead inside the final 200 metres but could not carry the lead to the post as Heatwave came up with a powerful run from behind and sailed ahead in the closing stages of the race. Isadoro finished on well but he had an impossible task of covering up the leeway and finished third.
Pesi Shroff trained Knight of Ke who had bled during his last run and performed below expectation won the 1600 metres Le Gris Cheval Trophy, a race for horses rated 40 to 66. Le Gris Cheval incidentally was the first winner of the Poonawalla Breeders Million 25 years ago. Hawker attempted to win aggressively but Knight of Ke easily overwhelmed him in the final furlong and stretched out nicely to win with ease. Haunting Moments finished third while Highraz continued to be a big let down with a disappointing show.
Dallas Todywalla trained Mufasa managed to reach the safety of winning post before Dixie Delight could threaten his supremacy in the 2400 metres Intervalve (India) Ltd Trophy, a race for horses rated 20 to 46. Gran Turismo disappointed as a favourite leading into the final furlong but packing up under pressure. Mufasa who came into prominent position at this point broke into a winning lead which held him in good stead as the late rally by Dixie Delight fell short of achieving the desired result.
Trainer Himmat Singh who was once known as a reputed gambler hadn`t won any race for a long time. Rashun who had run a forward race received disproportionate support under the circumstances as the four year old was backed down from higher quote of 3 to 1 to about a shade more than even money. Rashun were under pressure from the start and had to be ridden out fully by jockey T S Jodha to get going and the favourite just about managed to get the better of Zaagros who was the medium of a quiet touch.