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Review of the first two days of racing of the Mumbai Meeting 2014/2015 - By Shiven Surendranath

Posted on - 26 Nov 2014

Review of the first two days of racing of the Mumbai Meeting 2014/2015.
By Shiven Surendranath
Those white in hair and wise in years have often noted that very few things in the world are as unpredictable as a horse race. The fortunate few who have had the privilege of getting a glance at the aged pages of the well informed notifications of these gentlemen have confirmed that topping their list, above a horse race, are:(1) Women and (2) November rain.
It was the unpredictable number (2) on that list that delayed the first day of racing of the Mumbai Meeting 2014/2015.
Die-hard fans of the sport had to wait for an agonizing three days, with the seconds hand of their watches moving as slowly as the minute hand, the minute hand as slowly as the hour hand and the hour hand not moving at all before the nourishing rays of the sun sucked out the moisture from the track and light up their faces on the following Thursday afternoon.
The season opener was the Grand Passion Plate where the 6yr old Bonobo got backed down to on money favouritism. If one were to believe everything one hears, this unfound optimism on a horse with no form was the result of his esteemed jockey’s judgment.
Suntan Beauty, his only possible competitor, also had his jockey recommending a longer trip for the horse to his connections.
Marcos and Cumbre Vieja fought each other all the way into the straight with Bonobo sitting third and Suntan Beauty sitting a patient last. At the 600 meters marker, once jockey Darren Williams had safely boxed Bonobo on the rails and passed him, it was clear that he was going to win the race. Suntan Beauty ran away from the field to score over the extended trip proving his jockey right.
After losing the opening day of racing to rain the irony of a horse called Suntan Beauty winning the opener surely must have brought a wry smile to many a lip.
While only 3 runners ran the 2nd race of the day it was most competitive in nature as all three horses were strongly fancied by their connects.
Jockey Y.S. Srinath went start to finish on Janis Jay and in a masterly display of not just riding skills but also grey matter outwitted his fellow professionals. He slowed down the pace to his liking after hitting the front and then ran away in the straight before the other two realized what he had done.
Janis Jay managed to win in class 2 in a time nearly 6 seconds slower than the class 5 race run only 30 minutes earlier with  jockeys A.Sandesh and Kavraj Singh inexplicably choosing to sit behind Janis Jay irrespective of the pace of the race.
It must be mentioned here that The Myth broke a blood vessel and that it’s odds drifted from 60p at night to 2-1 by race time.
With half the runners belonging to his own stable in the 3rd, Royal Sapphire only had to complete the formality of running the race to win. Royal Sapphire did so in style by donkey licking whatever little opposition he had.
In the 4th, Bon Vivant had everybody’s attention as she was being touted as the “Next Maisha”.
Though the “Next Maisha” won from an impossible position on the last stride coming from way off the pace to pip Ocean Dream and even though she was sore from her right fore after the race, if Bon Vivant is the “Next Maisha” then I must humbly suggest that I have to be in the running to be the “Next William Wordsworth”.
On a more serious note, Bon Vivant will possibly run over an extended trip next time out and that might give us a better idea of her true ability.
The 5th saw the grey, Ladybird, being touted to win. If people hesitated to back her, it was because of her previous run in Pune where she was similarly favoured to win but ran well below expectations.
Artiste led the field with Ainra, Blue Bay and Egyptiana trading places behind him. Ladybird sat fifth on the outside.
Into the straight it was clear that while Artiste and Ainra were fighting it out it was Ladybird who was going to win and she did with more than a little still in reserve.
The 6th had Simply Sweet, who had seen far superior company, score under a confident ride from jockey C.S.Jodha.
Neptune’s Ocean led the field from Fibonacci Sequence till the 300 with Simply Sweet on the wide outside making his way up the field all the time.
Past the 300 Neptune’s Ocean threw in the towel and Fibonacci Sequence seemed to suggest that he might make it however it was not to be as past the 50 Simply Sweet breezed past his rival to win as expected.
Fibonacci Sequence ran vastly improved race from his last run in Pune. Considering this horse was an on money favourite when he was withdrawn in his first start one should keep an eye on him. He also possibly prefers the Mumbai track.
Neptune’s Ocean can also strike over a sprint and got a good lung opener.
The last race of the day had Statuesque installed as the firm favourite and gave his owner, D A Nanda, a warm welcome back to Mahalaxmi after an extended break from his regular visits to the course.
Statuesque jumped out smartly and led the field from Double Diamond and English Lass. While English Lass packed up at the 400 and with Double Diamond not being able to overwhelm Statuesque it was up to Mateus Rose and Dark William to challenge her towards the end.
Statuesque held on well from a late finishing Mateus Rose who is the one to note next time out.
Review for Sunday 23rd November 2014
A great day of racing was organized for The Rotarians on what became the first Sunday of racing for the Season.
Mahalaxmi witnessed crowds in such large numbers that one could have been fooled into believing that it was India and not China that had the highest population of people in the world.
The opening race of the day had the demoted Divine Wish open as the piping hot favourite taking on a field that had four other runners but no real competitor.
Katniss and Gyahana led the field into the straight with Divine Wish shuffling between 3rd and 4th with Leontine.
Into the straight Divine Wish ran away from Katniss who in turn got beat by Leontine around the 200 due to either a lack of fitness or stamina.
Golden Belle had been the preferred choice of her stable over Polished Chrome when she had run last in Pune. In what might have been a minor embarrassment, if not a major one, Polished Chrome easily got the better of Golden Belle.
Today, Golden Belle drifted out in odds due to some spirited support to Mount Rushmore and some blow hot blow cold statements from her trainer inspite of the right money coming on her. Golden Belle went start to finish to win quite easily from the late finishing Costa Del Sol.
Mount Rushmore ran so poorly that it is difficult to see him redeem his reputation in the near future.
The Maharaja of Morvi Trophy rarely gets many runners to accept as horses who eyes are intently focused on the upcoming classics use it as a prep race, scaring away the faint hearted. This year was no different.
Maisha, who was entered to run on the opening Sunday which was rained out, won the Morvi coming from behind in a perfect start to her classic season. She is definitely amongst the best in her age group and her progress will be followed with more than a casual interest.
The 4th race of the day had Burlesque and Zabisco coming in for support.
Burlesque had no form to support this support and expectedly finished nowhere. Zabisco, who was touted as an Indian Derby hopeful in his first run and had lost then was now running to redeem his reputation .Zabisco broke a blood vessel in the race and finished some where in the company of Burlesque at the back of the pack.
Dance Debonaire led the field for most of the way with Zaan, Nigella, Replica Fleetwood Mac and Double Or Quits all exchanging places behind him. Burlesque was shuffling between 4th and 5th with Zabisco just behind him on his outside.
Into the straight it was Replica and Fleetwood Mac who were the potential challengers to Dance Debonaire with Burlesque and Zabisco clearly not up to the task.
Closer to the winning post Dixie Delight came with an impressive late run to challenge and Fleetwood Mac who too put up a bold show under the whip but Dance Debonaire held on to win gamely.
With Rosie Sunshine and Mykonos being withdrawn before the race on a medical breach it was left to Dynamo and Mint Approach to fight it out.
It was Mint Approach-Dynamo and Mauna Kea who ran 1-2-3 from the start till about 250 from home. Past the 250 Dynamo went past Mint Approach in a well fought out finish to win handsomely.
The 6th race of the day wore an open look with 5 out of the 7 runners hoping to win.
Polydences hit the front and won “start to finish” with such ease that she made a talented field look ordinary.
She was chased all the time by War Command, Royal Passion and Your Royal Majesty in that Order.
Your Royal Majesty put in some good work towards the end and should enjoy a step up in distance.
The last race of the day ended in controversy with the crowds attempting to enter the paddock courtesy jockey Sandesh’s ride on the on money favourite, Congressional, who drifted out to be a joint 2.25 favourite with Rule Downunder.
Whatever be the merits of this particular case jockey Sandesh has been riding questionable races for some time now and with the added drift in odds the crowds reaction though unfortunate was not entirely unforeseeable.
Speed King lead the pack from Hail The King and Troppa Bella on settling down. Rule Downunder was constantly improving position with Congressional behind him.
By the 600 both Rule Downunder and Congressional had improved their positions from the back of the pack to be in striking position. Into the straight Speed King was still more than four lengths ahead of Hail The King with Rule Downunder and Congressional both now looking like serious contenders for the trophy.
Congressional and Rule Downunder fought it out from the 200 till the winning post with Rule Downunder prevailing more due to a better position that his rider kept him in during the earlier part of the race than due to his finishing effort where he tended to drift out under pressure.
On his way back from the track to the paddock, jockey Sandesh was given a slap on the back over a much preferred pat on the back by an irate punter. Sandesh returned the compliment by giving him a crack with his whip! Needless to say the last race was cancelled.
As those white in hair and wise in years have often noted, very few things in the world are as unpredictable as a horse race.
(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are the author's personal views.)

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