If trainer Javed Khan was sure about the potential of his filly Actualite in last Wednesdayís concluding event, the Finalist Handicap, fellow-trainer Daniel David must have been surprised by the improved performance of his ward Queen Of The Nile.
The Queen, in her last start, the Fillies Trial, had finished a poor fifth. The two fillies, however, dead-heated on the day after the Queen came with a brilliant run to share the honours with Actualite who had opened up a comfortable lead into the stretch-run.
The flawless previous victory of the Tejano-Indian Style daughter must have impressed Javed and he had strongly fancied her as a close second favourite to Secret Force, another of Danielís charges, who was ultimately placed third. The Queen had, obviously, found no takers in the betting ring even at 8ís.
It was certainly not a stray incident during the ensuing season because Danielís less-fancied horses normally performed better than his favourites. One hopes the champion trainer is erring in his judgment and not making a deliberate attempt.
The earlier half of the afternoon was equally exciting, with trainer Vijay Singh picking up his quota of a double. In fact, Vijay was quite choosy, as he had targeted the two trophy events on the cards ó Mr Mauritius Cup and the Robin Hood Cup, the main event.
In the Mauritius Cup, Shanker on Assailer decided to allow speedsters like Heavenís Blessing, Activity (the favourite) and Ruby Star to burn themselves upfront before he urged the Conquering Hero-Lady Omega four-year-old to display his prowess. The passage to victory was quite easy for Assailer once he overtook Heavenís Blessing inside the last furlong.
Callisto, on the other hand, dictated her own pace, in the Robin Hood Cup, and, in the hands of C. Alford, it was a virtual procession that the Brave Hunter-Aunti Katie daughter led from the start.
Javedís Venus scored back-to-back victories when apprentice Shane Domingo brought the six-year-old with a late run. It was Danielís Bigshow, sporting the popular MAM colours, who threatened to win from the start with a long lead and looked like pulling off an upset win, as her owner-mate and the half-money favourite, Grecian Princeís Also a Speedster, was surprisingly kept in the rear bunch by apprentice Amarpreet Singh.
The favourite did come with a late run but he failed to match the acceleration of Venus who had made a simultaneous move from the rear.
However, Kargil Soldierís late burst was amazing and it also helped the John Stephens-trainee make his six rivals look mediocre in the Gold Kale Handicap. Slowly out and a bad last, Mark Reuben was seen hustling up the seven-year-old way before the final turn. The Hadaaf-Miss Briartic son caught up with the field, as the six runners negotiated the final bend, before demonstrating his great turn of foot.
April Ace could not have asked for more from the handicapper. The Errol Bhungard-ward was allowed to win her third race in same class and in as many starts this season. The Broto-Safe Haven five-year-old mare won the Mercury Handicap with much ease and may do so again if treated leniently at the weights.