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Dashrath Singh rides Jefferson to SA Poonawalla glory

Pune: Once he was the champion jockey at Pune, but of late Dashrath Singh was being written off as someone who had lost his touch, especially after the arrival of new and in-form saddle artists like Trevor Patel and Sandesh. The 30-year old former champion hit a purple patch on Sunday at Pune, winning as many as 5 races on the card, including the feature event S A Poonawalla Multi-Million (Gr 2) with Jefferson.

Jefferson, owned by Geofferey Nagpal with his wife Charonne and trained by S K Sunderji, received only a modicum of support to close at 9-1 from 10-1, even as raging hot favourite Continental, trained by Pesi Shroff and ridden by Suraj Narredu, remained steady at 10-9 on.

Continental found himself in front after the jump, and continued calling the shots all the way until the final 100 meters where Dashrath Singh astride Jefferson drew alongside him, after devouring ground from the top of the straight with a sustained gallop. A brief tussle ensued, but Jefferson soon overpowered the favourite to post a decisive victory in the coveted race.

"I rode Jefferson in work, so I knew he had the ability," winning jockey Dashrath told mid-day after the race, "the only worry was he was very keen, so I had to keep him under tight control and settle--and he settled beautifully."

Narrating the race, the jockey added, "Once we turned for home, I just loosened the grip and he did the rest. All credit must go to the horse and the trainer, I didn't have to do much really."

Until yesterday morning Dasharath had ridden only 4 winners from 46 mounts, with a single digit strike rate, but with 5 wins from 7 rides on Sunday, his win percentage shot up to a respectable 16 percent.

Dashrath's wins included all decently priced horses: Jewel (7-2), Savage Garden (8-1), Daytona (4-1), Jefferson (9-1) & Alphonso (8-1), all of these won except Savage Garden who dead-heated wth Savage Beauty in the Secret Memory Plate.

On asked if he had any inkling of the super success in store, Dashrath said, "Not really. I was fairly confident about Jewel, my first winner of the day, and maybe Jefferson to some extent, but the rest I thought had only outside chance."

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