Perhaps for the first time in many years, and definitely for the first time this Mahalaxmi season, the followers of money got a severe drubbing as not a single race on the Sunday card was won by a public choice. While three of the eight races were won by the second-in-demand horses, the other five races saw rank outsiders coming up trumps.
All the three piping-hot favourites on the card--Star Of Gibraltar (9/10), Berlusconi (7/10) & Smart Strider (45/100)--flopped in their respective races, the first two ending as runners up, the last-named finishing third. The two grade 2 races on the card--Dr S C Jain Sprinters' Challenge & the Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Eclipse Stakes of India--also went the same way.
Forest Flair, freely available at 8/1 in the bookmakers' ring, won the Dr S C Jain Sprinters' Challenge, and in the process, set a new course record, stopping the clock at 1:09.79 for the six-furlong trip, erasing the earlier record (1:10.10) that stood in the name of Oasis Star. Jockey C D Hayes kept the Dr Ramaswamy-owned six-year-old a handy second as Weizhou (Dashrath Singh up) brought the 11-horse field into the homestretch, before taking charge by exploiting a gap on the inner rails, to spare 1-3/4 lengths to the late-finishing Bespoke (N Rawal up) who was involved in a photo for place along with Ancient Wonder & Beautiful Stranger.
"The way Weizhou was going I knew I would get an opening soon," jockey C D Hayes said in a post-race interview, "my horse was quick to surge ahead, and kept going so well I knew there would be no threat."
Trainer Narendra Lagad, whose horse Native Knight (Dashrath Singh up) stunned favourite Berlusconi at the post to win the Eclipse Stakes, said he was pretty confident of success. "Native Knight has run with classy horses like Jacqueline & Becket," he said after the race, "his last victory in the Byculla Club Trophy confirmed that he is in fine fettle right now, so this victory didn't come as a surprise."
Katrak gets his licence back
Trainer Cooji Katrak, who was suspended by the RWITC stewards until March 26 for drug violation, was given relief by the same body when he applied for a review of the punishment yesterday. Thanks to this order, Katrak, who has already served half of his original punishment of 90 days, can start training with immediate effect.
"Yes, Katrak had filed for a review," Vivek Jain, chairman of the club, confirmed the news when speaking to MiD DAY, "his balance punishment will be combined with his earlier suspended sentence."
Katrak was not available for comment.