Cooji Katrak-trained runner piloted to victory by Sandesh in Poonawalla Breeders' Multi-Million, India’s richest juvenile race
Shivalik Storm, who was rather easily tamed by Be Safe when they had last met, turned the tables on his conqueror to win the grade 1, Poonawalla Breeders' Multi-Million (PBMM), the richest juvenile race in the country that was staged at the Mahalaxmi racetrack yesterday.
Shivalik Storm, winner of the the grade 1, Poonawalla Breeders' Multi-Million (PBMM) race at the Mahalaxmi racetrack yesterday. Pic/Nimesh Dave
Trained by Cooji Katrak, and owned by Nirmal Singh, Vikram Singh, Anil H Lad and G Shewakramani, Shivalik Storm was brilliantly piloted by jockey Sandesh. The Dancing Forever — Badraan three-year-old bred at the Hazara stud earned for his proud owners a cool Rs 1.1 crore in prize money.
As the starter flagged off the 11 runners for the high-voltage contest, Sandesh settled Shivalik Storm close to the pace set by War Command, who was followed by Quasar and Solomon, with piping hot favourite Be Safe gracing the tail end after his jockey B Sreekanth angled in from the wide outside draw to go to inner rails.
Strangely, instead of saving ground at the turn by sticking to the rails, Sreekanth once again angled out Be Safe to race ten lanes wide even as the pace heated up with front runners going all out.
In a clever piece of riding, Sandesh urged Shivalik Storm to go after a drifting War Command and tiring Quasar without putting him into top gear. It was only when he assumed command in the final furlong that Sandesh goaded to Shivalik Storm to stay on as Be Safe unleashed a terrific burst of speed, gaining ground with each stride. However, Sandesh and Shivalik Storm held on grimly to prevail by an elegant neck verdict.
When MiD DAY asked trainer Katrak how he managed to reverse the verdict, the winning trainer denied any deliberate strategy was employed. "You just train your horse, keep him fit and happy, and that's what I did. No one can predict what's going to happen in a race, you can just do your job and hope for the best," he said.
Katrak also praised jockey Sandesh for the way he handled the winner. "You see this horse (Shivalik Storm) is big, really huge — almost 16 hands," said Katrak, "in a way, Sandesh is too small for him. But I prefer him to ride my horses whenever possible because both of us get along very well, and that helps."
The Renault Duster, offered as the grand prize in a free contest of skill to anyone from the members' enclosure who correctly predicted the first four finishers in the Poonawalla Breeders' Multi-Million, went to one Diwakar Nayak. There were seven who had correctly predicted the order, so the winner was decided by a draw. The other car, Maruti Alto, reserved for racegoers in the general enclosure went unclaimed as there was not even one correct entry predicting the outcome of the race. However, the race club announced the car will be “carried forward” to another race day which will offer anther free contest of skill.