It was Prakash Bhonsle’s strong will power that was the talking point in the racing circles last Sunday as much as it was Smart Ruler’s easy victory in the Calcutta Derby Trial Stakes during the day. The visiting jockey had had a painful fall from his first ride of the afternoon, Midas Touch, and his subsequent achievement, by way of a treble, including the Derby win, disclosed the steely nerves that he possessed.
Faint hope among rival ranks to cash in on Prakash’s injury must have vanished after the champion jockey gave hardly any hint of his injuries as he drove the Daniel David-trained hot favourite River Melody with a finishing run to an easy victory over her stable-mate Moon Mission. Until a furlong from home, the latter seemed to be going great guns in the hands of an equally enterprising jockey Mark Gallagher. In between the two wins, Prakash had also guided Daniel’s Immaculate to a facile victory.
In fact, it was Smart Ruler who looked to be in some trouble as yard-mate Royal City tried to hold on to the lead he had built up from the start in the 2,000m race. Prakash had lurked in the rear till 800m from home in hope of things turning smooth for him in the final hour. Everything did turn smooth but not until the last 125m or so when Prakash had to shake up the 35-100 favourite hard enough to make him get up to his task.
In the afternoon’s seven-event card, there was, however, strong evidence that the Singh brothers – Vijay and Bharath – along with Daniel, would dominate the remaining two monsoon meets. In fact, Prakash’s gutsy effort had diluted the matching score by jockey Cristopher Alford doing duty for the Singh brothers who had evenly shared the remaining four events on the card between them.
Incidentally, Cristopher got the break in the Absolution Handicap following the unseating of Prakash from the even-money favourite Midas Touch who had jumped out awkwardly leaving his jockey to bang into the starting gate of his cage. With the favourite out of the way, it was victory at every post for Cristopher on Vijay’s Callisto.
Vijay has, in fact, taken his own sweet time in unfolding his stock. It was his last winter’s brilliant performer Romantic Notes who handed the crafty trainer a tension free double. The Mischevious Music-Pheasant Heights filly had, however, performed poorly during the summer season in Bangalore thus the presence of a two time easy winner, Primaticcio – ridden by Prakash for Daniel – in the field had divided the betting evenly between the two youngsters.
However, sporting a top weight, Primaticcio did not seem to find the going easy on the day as he surrendered his challenge at the top of the home straight. For Romantic Notes, on the other hand, it was a routine exercise. In third till the turn, Cristopher sent her into the lead and she drew away from the field.
Trainer Bharath has his ways of advertising his talent. Last year, the crafty trainer had spun money in place gambles with a seven-year-old Mr Bombshell who had come over from Daniel’s yard. Now with Lhendup Dorji’s stock switching stables, Bharath has begun the process with Flamebird who carved a smart start-to-finish victory for the stable that loves winning at fancied odds.
However, making his debut, Bharath Arrayal, was a popular choice and, in spite of making his winning run from way back inside the last furlong, Cristopher failed to stop the Cristofori-Polly Tern son from winning in excess of six lengths.