Results of the two Eveready Industries-sponsored ‘sprints’ in the New Year’s Day card — the 1,200m Alkaline Sprinters’ Trophy and the Indian Produce Stakes — were welcomed by the 20,000-odd crowd as both Bold Chieftan and Andropov carried the public purse to the winners’ enclosure.
A lesser-fancied winner, Among Men, claimed the 2,200m Nepal Gold Cup, another important event that has always been part of the January 1 package, and donated by His Majesty, the King of Nepal.
Among others who made the headlines on the day were trainer Bharath Singh for notching up a lucrative treble, and the visiting jockeys Ryan Marshall and Mark Gallagher. Ryan booted home three winners, including Bold Chieftan, who would have been Gallagher’s ride had he not failed the breath analyser test.
Anyway, Bold Chieftan did not fail Ryan. The six-year-old made his own running and triumphed over Stren-gthtostrength who, but for a brief while soon after the start, failed to collar the winner at any stage of the race. The Mumbai-migrant who had recorded a rare double at the last Invitational meet in Bangalore by winning the Sprinters Cup and the Super Mile, is obviously, on the decline. It would be too much to expect him to retain his form over the months and at an advancing age of eight.
Yet, the John Stephens-trainee did not disgrace himself as he was able to restrict Bold Chieftan’s winning margin a shade over a length. In the Produce Stakes, Andropov, too, failed to impress though he notched up his second successive win. However, it was a much-laboured effort compared to his maiden runaway victory. The Vijay Singh-trained colt by Tecorno out of Goldilocks, may, perhaps, need more time and experience to get used to carrying penalties. He was conceding 3-1/2 kg to each non-winner in the field.
Settled in mid-division, Cristopher rode a copybook race as he brought Andropov with a late run. It was in the closing stages that Andropov had to be stretched to ward off a strong challenge from Gypsy King galloping on the wide out.
Bharath took off from the start as Ryan on the 5-1 Flamebird found Cristopher (on a 6-10 hot favourite Arrayal) going through all sorts of problems along the rails. The two-length lead established past the distance-post helped Flamebird carry on by a neck at the wire.
There was no room for Cristopher to make a mistake on Annotate in the 1,600m Whiplash Handicap as the winner was a class superior to the rest. The Twist and Turn-Arisen four-year-old lead from the start and was hardly under pressure to post a five-length victory over Courtesan who was on her maiden run on the local track. The six-year-old migrant from Mumbai made up good ground in the stretch run.
It was in the concluding event that Bharath struck again as Lockers Park went kindly for Ryan. The horse is known to have a short but effective bursts of speed and the visiting jockey timed his challenge to perfection to have a comfortable measure of the 5-4 favourite Calamint. Incidentally, both Lockers Park and the favourite had made their simultaneous move as the field approached the 600m marker.
Among Men simply cruised home with the Gold Cup. The Green Forest-Broken Sky son had found a match in Midnight Escape in his last encounter as he had scraped by the shortest of margins in the 2,000-metre race.
The extra furlong had added wings to his effort as the Javed Khan-trained six-year-old humbled Andreyev. Hello Brother was unlucky to have burst blood vessel nearing the final turn when cruising behind the leader Anolini, thanks largely to the RCTC for not permitting horses to do their morning work late in the day when fog, that causes all problems, normally clears.
Luck of the run favoured a badly drawn Arian in a field of 11 runners, as the joint-favourite Royal Command was slow to come out of the gates after original favourite Idolize had bolted forcing her withdrawal from the fray. It was jockey Rutherford Alford who cashed in on chances coming his way.