Malesh Narredu trained Quasar had everything going into the Gr 1 Nanoli Stud Pune Derby including a peach of a ride by jockey Suraj Narredu as the three year old colt won the premier event of the season in a record time of 2minutes 3.04 seconds on Sunday. Favourite Maisha made a valiant bid to catch up with Quasar but fell short in the end.
The Pune Derby field had a competitive look about it with three individual classic winners and three graded race winners in the fray. The Pune Derby was the target for Quasar right from the beginning of the season and as such, he was systematically prepared with a race benefit over nine furlongs and another mock race over the same distance to get him spot on for the race. Perhaps trainer Pesi Shroff decided to pitch in Maisha, winner of Gr 1 Fillies Championship, rather late in the day and as such, two mock races were squeezed as preparation for this premier event without an opportunity to give a race run. Horses without run benefit rarely win a Derby but given the fact that the filly had shown class and the fact that trainer Pesi had time and again proved to be the master of the big occasion, the filly was expected to overcome all handicaps. The game filly was up to the challenge but in the end, Quasar who had the first run on his opponents had stolen a march by the time Maisha could cover the leeway from behind to essay her challenge. The cause appeared futile as Quasar was travelling aggressively in front showing no signs of weakening. One could perhaps fault Trevor for keeping the filly too far behind but then Quasar appeared the best horse of the day.
Quizical did the job of the pace setter by taking over the running within the furlong providing Sandesh on War Command some cover as the horse raced too keen. Quasar was settled in about the fifth or six position along the rails and enjoyed the ground saving run which proved to be a great blessing. Trevor Patel dropped back Maisha to the rear after a good jump out and had put himself in a position of having to overtake all the runners in the straight before getting a chance to surge ahead.
With War Command showing distress signals approaching the final bend, Suraj quickly pushed Quasar to quicken and the progeny of Seeking The Dia showed remarkable alacrity to go storming clear. In the meanwhile, Trevor on Miasha to had to wade his wave through a crowded field along the inside and by the time he could set alight the filly, he was left with a hopeless task. Quasar seemed to be enjoying himself in front and stretched away for a splendid win. Maisha finished on well but that time Suraj was already celebrating his second success in this event. Shivalik Storm ran on from behind to snatch the third slot from Tatiana while the others in the fray finished were outclassed. Royal Passion who was well placed to strike behind Quasar had his energy completely sapped in the straight and disappeared from contention in a trice.
The Narredus seem to have made the Pune Derby their own. Trainer Malesh Narredu saddled his first Pune Derby winner through Quasar but he had won this event seven times as a jockey. Suraj has won this race twice and his father Satish Narredu, an equal number of times. Thus the family has a unique record of winning this Derby 12 times amongst themselves. Nanoli Stud Farm has been sponsoring this event continuously for the last 18 years which shows the continued commitment of the promoters of the stud farm to the sport.
Altaf Hussain trained Dancing Prances maintained his amazing consistency during the season by recording his third straight win of the season by winning the 1200 metres Norshir & Dolly Dhunjibhoy Sprint Championship, a rich terms for four year olds and over, the supporting event of the day. Dancing Phoenix put up a stiff resistance before surrendering in the final moments of the race. Déjà vu came up with a late rally but just about failed to overhaul the long time leader for the runner up berth.
Noshir Cama trained Incandescent brought off a big upset in the 1400 metres Jimmy Umrigar Trophy, a race for three year olds. Eduardo was the favourite but the gelding was lethargic at the start and was a spent force by the time he gained ground and came abreast of the front running horses. Discourse led the field with Aleta in striking proximity followed by Incandescent, Saporelli and others. Despite running green, Aleta managed to take the lead inside the final furlong but was caught up with by Incandescent in the final stride of the race. Saporelli made lot of ground on the wide outside to be a close third.
Brynhill showed lot of aggression when he went at scorching pace in front in the 1200 metres Sir Sultan Chinoy Trophy, a race for horses rated 60 to 86. Ultrasonic who went in chase failed to sustain in the straight and the front runner shaped to win. However, Wild Waves covered ground rapidly in the final furlong and managed to head the front runner home in a tight finish. Forest Hunter was a close third.
Narendra Lagad trained Al Shamsheer would have gone into the 2400 metres Volkswagen India Trophy, a race for horses rated 20 to 46 as a strongly backed horse but for the fact that the three year old had put up a pathetic performance last time out. This time out, the son of Yeats was seen in different light as he raced in second position as Attraction went on a runway mission in front. Attraction shot his bolt approaching the final bend and jockey Darren Williams pushed Al Shamsheer to take charge. The lesser fancied runner who had a break of over eight lengths over the rest showed no signs of weakening and checked in well clear of late rallying Double Or Quits. Fleetwood Mac once again disappointed with a below par performance.
Both the divisions of the Pune Police Commissioner`s Trophy a race for horses rated 40 to 66, were claimed by trainer Rehanullah Khan`s wards. Jockey Pradeep Chouhan, who hasn`t been able to get the winners like in down South, drove out Pepe Senior to get the better of Angel In The Sky in the final moments of the race. Oriental Rocky edged ahead of favourite Wings of Glory who did not justify the huge money that he attracted in the betting ring. The lower division of the race was claimed by Doc Holiday who won start to finish, easily containing the challenge of Nature Boy and late finishing Targetmaster.
The day`s opener, the 1000 metres Roedl & Partner Trophy, a race for maiden three year olds, saw the odds on favorite Arizona Sun drift out dramatically in the betting ring, with Chase The Ace coming in for inspired support. In the event, Arizona Sun did not face any challenge from his adversaries as he checked in well clear of Flynn and Chase The Ace.
Zadmal Singh`s Miss Pearl claimed the 1600 metres Vinayak Trophy, a race for horses in the lowest category, with a well timed run from the rear and won with great deal of ease from Sir Song an Maalik.