The Bertolini - Designer Chic three-year-old filly improved her position dramatically from the rear of the field, and flew in the final furlong to snatch a short-head verdict from the Bangalore challenger Showin'off (P Trevor up) at the wire virtually in the last stride.
The first two places in the first Classic of the Mumbai season were thus picked up by outstation horses, with local hopes Portia (Richard Hughes up) & Neona (Sandesh up) having to be content with third and fourth berths respectively.
When the starter flagged them off for what was the first Classic of the current Mumbai campaign, Twilight set a hot pace followed by Neona, with Maple Star & Showin'off in mid-bunch, and both Portia & Vijay's Pride at the tail end of the field. The leader shot her bolt before the final turn as Neona took charge and seemed to be going strong until midway into the homestretch. However, Trevor put pressure on Showin'off who responded well to pass Neona, but Chouhan had by that time set alight Vijay's Pride who thundered onto the scene with giant strides to overpower Showin'off at the wire to win a photo finish verdict.
The winner was trained by LVR Deshmukh and ridden by jockey Pradeep Chouhan. For both trainer and jockey, it was their first success in an Indian Classic. "I have been dreaming for nearly a decade to win a Classic here," trainer LVR Deshmukh said after the race, "I am happy my long wait has finally borne fruit."
The champion trainer of Hyderabad almost fought off tears when he remembered the late Pratap Chander Reddy in whose silks Vijay's Pride has registered all her conquests so far. "I wish Mr Reddy had been around to witness this moment," Deshmukh said, "he would have been thrilled." Ironically, the sporting owner who led his racing establishment with great vision had passed away only days before this same filly, Vijay's Pride, won her first Classic, the Bangalore Fillies' Trial in July this year.
"Though we raced at the wrong end initially," jockey Pradeep Chouhan, the local lad who has now made Hyderabad his home where he has been a champion jockey for many seasons now, said after the victory, "but I was confident she would respond whenever I asked her to go. We came in wide, but I guess that saved us from any traffic problems, and once she started devouring ground, I knew we would make it."