Windsor Forest gallops to glory
Champion trainer Pesi Shroff breaks jinx to win mid-day Trophy as jockey Suraj Narredu storms to winning post
Bollywood star Kangana Ranaut (in blue) and mid-day Infomedia Ltd CEO Sandeep Khosla (right) present the mid-day Trophy to the owners of Windsor Forest while RWITC chairman Vivek Jain (third from left) and mid-day executive editor Tinaz Nooshian (third from right) look on at the Mahalaxmi racecourse yesterday. Pic/Rane Ashish, Sayyed Sameer Abedi, Bipin Kokate
Champion trainer Pesi Shroff, who has won every important race, both as jockey and trainer, had one trophy missing from his collection. He finally won that elusive prize — the mid-day Trophy — yesterday at the Mahalaxmi racecourse. He sent out Windsor Forest, a filly carrying the silks of Manjri stud’s Pallon Mistry, to an impressive victory in the coveted race. Jockey Suraj Narredu rode the winner, who clocked a 1 minute 24.30 seconds for the seven-furlong trip. Enjoying popular support, Windsor Forest received an avalanche of betting, driving her odds down from 14/10 to 11/10 even as the 12 runners and riders lined up under the starter's eyes.
Windsor Forest (No. 12) flies past the finishing post to win the mid-day Trophy at the Mahalaxmi racecourse yesterday. Pic/Rane Ashish, Sayyed Sameer Abedi, Bipin Kokate
Suraj Narredu settled the favourite in mid-bunch, but not far away from Fair Warning (Srinath up), who showed the way to Gazino (Yash Narredu up) and Angels Of Touch (PS Chouhan up), while second-in-demand Rochester (Trevor Patel up) graced the wrong end of the field in the early part of the race.
Suraj wasted no time in improving position as soon as the heads turned for home, and surged ahead in the final furlong, and with Rochester getting an atrocious ride from top rider Trevor Patel, he was in no danger of being caught. Windsor Forest finally spared a length-and-a-quarter to Rochester, who pushed Angels Touch to third place by a neck at the wire, with Gazino a further two lengths away.
Mid-day Trophy winner Windsor Forest with jockey Suraj Narredu is led in by its owners after the victory. Pic/Rane Ashish, Sayyed Sameer Abedi, Bipin Kokate
Shining star Suraj
Trainer Shroff said he always knew he had a good filly in Windsor Forest. "She had run a great race on debut. She was in great heart. She also did a decent bit of work," he said in a post-race chat.
The trainer then went on to give all credit to jockey Suraj, which is rather strange given the same rider had lost with Windsor Forest on debut over six furlongs after looking like a winner till close home.
"I will give full credit to Suraj. He had explained to me the circumstances under which he made his move too soon last time. He understands the filly very well, and said he would give her a lot more chance over this extended trip, he would ride her from behind, and that’s exactly what he did," Shroff explained.
Shroff said the mid-day Trophy was one race he was looking forward to wining this time. "Not because I was yet to win it, but because this trophy has a unique appeal. Your newspaper has always been a sponsor with a difference," said Shroff adding that mid-day mixes the right amount of glamour with class. "For example, your guest today, actor Kangana Tanaut, genuinely looked forward to being photographed with the horses."
Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut with mid-day Trophy winner Windsor Forest and champion trainer Pesi Shroff (right). Pic/Rane Ashish, Sayyed Sameer Abedi, Bipin Kokate
Kangana impresses Pesi
Shroff however, admitted he was taken aback when told that Ranaut was interested in posing with the winning horse. "Initially I was a bit apprehensive because Windsor Forest is a young horse, this was only her second race and she was a bit nervous," he reasoned. However, the way Kangana handled the filly left no doubt in his mind that the actor knew her horses.
"I was surprised by Kangana’s bold approach. What I found nice was that even when she was surrounded by photographers, who were there to click her pictures, her first concern was the horse. She showed empathy for the animal which is what I was very impressed with," added Shroff.