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A weekend of mystery and intrigue (3rd day of Pune) - By Shiven Surendranath

Posted on - 06 Aug 2014

A weekend of mystery and intrigue (3rd day of Pune)
By Shiven Surendranath
 
Horse racing has historically had an element of mystery behind it.
 
Was Shergar really kidnapped by the I.R.A. or is he still alive? Did the famous jockey, Ron Hansen, actually leap off the San Mateo Bridge? Was the Hawthrone race course set on fire because a betting scam went wrong? On it’s third day of the Pune racing season, India decided to add its own share of mysteries to the list above.
 
Like, for example who is that living fountain of knowledge who opens the odds every night? And what is the colour of the brand of his favourite poison? Blue, gold, black or red?And, no matter how much he sipped, how on God’s earth could he have decided to open Morals,as the 12/10 favourite in the opener and Dyna at evens in the last?
 
Morals, whose abilities were once described by, Gautam Lala, his previous owner, as “he couldn’t beat a fat man running downhill”, went start to finish over a mile and led by four into the straight. Dazzle N Daze sat a handy 2nd behind him throughout. Past the 200 it was all over for Morals as he came under pressure form Dazzle N Daze,who finally won the race from Chasing Dreams.
 
Morals had a moral victory of sorts though as his third was ahugely improved performance as compared to his previous runs.
 
Starsonboard won the 2nd, once again opening at a ridiculously low price for a horse with only one fully functional nostril. Having said that,the horse won like a champ, going start to finish and winning unchallenged.However, post the race the red cone went up instead of the white .Clearly the connections of the 2nd placed horse had a Plan B as they tried to win the race in the stewards’ room after losing it on the race track. However this just wasn’t a day for Plan B’s.
 
Co-owner of Strasonboard, Homi “Tiger” Bhagwagar, had the biggest smile amongst all the partners as they led in the filly. He had proved an army of detractors wrong with his famous “72 hours before” prediction, that Starsonboard would win despite her worrisome nasal passage and pre race workout.
 
The mystery of the odds continued to trouble punters, trainers, owners and all concernedin the 3rd as the price on the favourite Grenadine nearly doubled.
 
Bonobo, Allegiance and Savage Garden led the pack after the jump. Grenadine was already being niggled to keep 4th spot, seven lengths behind.  Between the 1000 and 800 her jockey was flat out on her till she caught up with the front runners and past the 600 it still seemed an upset could be considered. However into the straight Grenadine showed a good turn of foot to win smartly even as her jockey showed good presence of mind to close the gap on Dreams Of You.
 
Dreams Of You ran her third 2nd in five starts, looking a bit like her trainer as she carried a portly 470 kgs. A regular few weeks at the gym doing some sit ups, push ups and meditation, should soon see her first across the line.
 
The Thai Pavilion, at the President Hotel, is famous for its morning glory in yellow bean and many a punter is seen ordering the dish there after a good day at the races .So when they heard a supposed morning glory was being served as a hot favourite in the 4th their mouths watered in anticipation. It was now up to Top Commander to prove in that he wasn’t edible.
 
Top Commander sat a handy second behind Cactus Cash till 300 from home.At the 200 it seemed that he was home and dry but Shining Path and Zidaan, who were both at the back of the pack for most of the race, challenged Top Commander strongly and passed him. Thereafter both the horses fought it out and Zidaan just scrapedthrough.
 
Top Commander proved to be a favouriteonly for those who like to eat their morning glory and not play with their food.
 
Full marks to trainer Altaf Hussain for quickly placing Zidaan in this race after his smart second place the previous week.
 
Owner Rajesh Monga might have felt an extra touch of joy when One Kept Secret ran all over Greek God in the fifth. What with the owner of Greek God selling him the favourite of the first race –Morals.
 
Greek God and Mykonos were the front runnerswith One Kept Secret behind them. Running in class two, Greek God was expectedly beaten by a more experienced horse as One Kept Secret thundered past him at the 300. Ultrasonic put up an improved show to finish 3rd.
 
“Staristrocrat by Multidimensional “ shouted commentator Deepak, in the last , as the horse went first past the finish after an exciting battle right through the straight with Egyptiana and that might have been the crucial factor in his victory. Egyptiana possessed cheap speed but Staristrocrat’s breeding finally told.
 
With the amount of times jockey Zameer Sayyed, on Born To Win, looked behind in the straight he should seriously consider investing in a rear view mirror.
 
Dyna’s race was the last for the day and her favouritism and sustained support was definitely agreat mystery. Dyna had last run on 13/10/2013 and had finished 4th with Angel in the Sky finishing 3rd, who is still a maiden!
 
Doc Holliday and Vixen fancied their chances most against Dyna. While Vixen tried to run away with the race Doc Holliday sat an intelligent third. Dyna was sixth. When Vixen packed up in the straight Doc Holiday put up a strong run to go clear.It was clear that Dyna’s mysterious favouritism was going to remain a mystery till a future date.
 
(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are the author's personal views.)

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