Barring the victory of Sanctified Star who gave trainer Errol Bungard his maiden winner, the penultimate race-meet of the monsoon season on Friday was loved by all. Errol, the former deputy of Daniel David, too, welcomed the winner of the Tel-Asur Cup but he lacked the kind of enthusiasm that indicates springs in the feet. And rightly so, the seven-year-old had foiled efforts of a well-backed Daniel-favourite, Secret Adversary, and Errol’s inability to assess the potential level of the Star ward must have hurt his professional pride. Known to be a ‘bleeder’ and after taking the home-turn 10 horses wide, the seven-year-old, in the hands of B. Gurang, galloped with big strides in the stretch run to reduce the favourite literally to pulp nearly a furlong from home.
It was, perhaps, a day of defiance for some troubled by burst blood vessel problems. A trickle or two during his morning workouts were said to have been noticed in Don Vittorio by the morning birds as the Harvinder Singh Bath-trainee had gone about his task. But the trainer was confident about the victory of the Hazim-Envy four-year-old, though the layer of odds quoted the youngsters after a six-year-old Flying Power.
S. Shanker, partnering the Bath-ward, took all by surprise as he headed for the front virtually from the start instead of saving the bleeder till the end, giving Bath his last laugh as the 5-2 second favourite held on to the advantage. However, it was apprentice Amarpreet Singh on the favourite who had made things easy for the winner. Right behind the Don, there was no reason for the apprentice to take the favourite 8-wide at the final turn, thus losing the momentum.
Racing was, otherwise, so simple during the afternoon. Sea Royal, a half-money favourite in the Crystal Cup, carried his top-weight to a businesslike victory, though early in the race the Vijay Singh-trainee looked like a disappointing runner in the rear of the field. But his style of victory over a 1,000m scurry only strengthened the belief that more races are in store for the Alnasr Alwasheek-Sea Of Tranquillity three-year-old who ate up good ground in the stretch run.
The focus on the day was the quiet manoeuvrings of trainer Farley Rodrigues for good odds in the 1,200m Green Sari Cup when he declared a poor jockey, Dalpat Singh, on a seven-furlong specialist and, incidentally, also a bleeder, The Archer.
Some sort of controversy had been surrounding the topweight by Broto out of Wonderland since he lost to a champion sprinter Alcalde early in the season. Rutherford Alford who partnered The Archer enjoyed a 4-kg weight advantage on that occasion. The horse was, however, off the track for quite some time while Alcalde was in a rousing form having trounced his class I rivals on the Day I of the season. As a result of this, The Archer had gone down by nearly two lengths.
On this day The Archer won but he managed to spare only half-a-length to Abashed (51-kg) who, at his very best, could be rated a class inferior to Alcalde. Expectations from The Archer and the arithmetic of handicapping has, however, made Abashed a hero.