Number ‘ones’ were in total command, last Wednesday, thus justifying handicapper’s assessment about the topweights in the six-event card. What was common about three of the four topweights who scored at will was that they showed promise of a return visit to the winners’ enclosure.
Arcaro was simply superb in the 1,400m Commanche Cup. In fact, the Green Forest-Broken Sky four-year-old deserved to be qualified for Class II instead of a class down. It is because the present RCTC stock is so poor that any upcountry visitor is capable of steam-rolling its contemporary local class animal. Ever Lasting Love, another upcountry migrant, had proved the point last Sunday when carrying a topweight she had treated the opposition with scant respect. And when Arcaro mauled his seven rivals from the start, the point was proved.
But the handicapper views it differently. Although, the two-outstation migrants have supported the popular logic, all visiting horses are not champions. He claims to have applied the same yardstick on all migrating horses, and in his opinion, there are always some exceptions.
More than the celebrations in the victorious camp, it was disappointment that engulfed the Saladin connections. The Razeen-Naseem El Fair three-year-old is no classic material but with a pull of 8-kg in his favour a lot was expected from the John Stephens-trainee who had notched up a win during the Bangalore summer season.
Equally promising was the victory of Primaticcio in the Adelita Handicap. A trifle unlucky to have lost ground at the start, the Errol Bhungard-trainee was quick to recover. Running in mid-division, Primaticcio was also urged by Amyn Merchant to stay there. Assuming the charge of running below the distance-post, the Don’t Forget Me-Priceless Moments three-year-old skated clear of the opposition to post a seven-length victory. It is needless to say that he could strike again.
Immaculate was the other topweight to have left the opposition cold. But the Bhungard-Merchant combination must consider itself lucky for the victory of the six-year-old gelding as Allaying, the 7-10 hot favourite, lost nearly eight lengths at the gates to do anything worthwhile in the race. Surprisingly, the stipendiary report puts Allaying’s lost ground at the start to be four lengths – perhaps it is an exercise to save the mare from a barrier trial.
Merchant was however, already in trouble before Immaculate obliged him in the feature event, the Burdwan Memorial Cup.
In the Manasseh Memorial Cup, it was expected to be a straight contest between a 6-4 favourite Callisto from Vijay Singh’s yard and Bhungard’s Moon Mission who was a steady 5-2 second favourite. However, a late call on stable’s lesser-fancied River Melody – backed from 8’s down to 3’s – prompted odds of the first two favourites to drift slightly.
Hitting the front from the start of the race, River Melody in the hands of Sheikh Salam, did assert her superiority over Callisto but Merchant was far from his enterprising-self on an equally speedy Moon Mission. He made sure that the second favourite lurked in the rear for a major part of the 1,200m sprint and moved his muscles half-heatedly when Salam was virtually assured of the winning honours. Suspension appears to be staring at Merchant’s face when stewards conduct the enquiry into the running and riding of Moon Mission on the December 4 evening.