| Merchant on Smart Charmer
Owning of horses and sitting in the stewards’ box may be of contrasting interests. However, Deepak Khaitan’s induction into the august body was much appreciated in the racing circles as the city sport was being reduced to a virtual farce. Expectations may be very high from the leading owner but it may take sometime before things fall in line, as Khaitan’s main task at hand is to arrest the damage already done to the local sport, feel his close associates. Some also hoped that days of the manipulators are numbered.
Even the day’s pattern seems to have changed but only to some extent. The victories of Blue Chip, Hello Brother and Smart Charmer, in their respective events, were well on the cards, and unlike previous weeks, smiling faces could be seen around.
Blue Chip, in fact, looked a winner in her paddock rounds. Although running within a week of her last one-length-plus victory, the Metal Precieux-In The Blue four-year-old bore a shining coat on the day and triumphed without raising a sweat, thanks to Surjeet Singh on the favourite Capistrano for going eight-wide rounding the home turn.
However, Amyn Merchant on the Even-money favourite Predecessor, too, did a Surjeet — in the following event, the Great Scot Handicap, — and it cost him dearly as his stable-mate Terrificco, who led from the start, just about managed to hang on to his lead in a desperately close finish.
El Cid, apparently doing donkeywork for Another Time, his heavily-fancied stable-mate, fought in vain to contain F. Rodrigues’ Hello Brother as the 5-4 favourite failed to quicken in the final furlong of the 1,800m Prince Blossom Cup.
Little did one expect Moira to produce the same kind of speed
that the six-year-old mare had exhibited in the lower class. However, the Mazilier-Rhiakoh daughter found the going easy upfront until the eight-year-old Regal Rocket walked on to the scene to steal the thunder with 100m to go in the 1,100m Zeenee Handicap. The 6-4 Daniel-favourite Pearl Dragon, too, fell victim of Moira’s pace and finished nowhere after being in the striking position till a furlong and half up in the home stretch.
Lying a handy fifth as stable-mate Star Selection tried to gauge the changing leaders — Seeker and My Opinion — the heavily backed 8-10 favourite, Smart Charmer, was quick to improve and also led 250m from home to retire a convincing winner of the prestigious Independence Cup over 1,400m. Richie Rich, who managed to push Star Selection to the third slot, may earn his winning bracket soon.
Overcoming a bad draw and settled in-second, Daniel’s rank-outsider Direct Access put a dampner on Rohini’s smart effort to win from the start and also what could have been a well earned double for trainer Rodrigues. The leader was caught barely 75m from home to register a ‘neck’ victory. Mayan Hiss was a good third.