The hard work and perseverance of trainer Jaggi Dhariwal was richly rewarded, when Arabian Prince presented him with The Bangalore St Leger (Grade II) trophy on Sunday. The nicely built chestnut tackled the mile and three quarters trip with maturity, and produced that little bit extra in the final furlong to beat back a strong challenge from the Babu Rao-trained Fleet Indian. It was a happy occasion for the Kunigal team, as both the horses were bred at their farm. A major portion of the credit for this victory must go to Sampson, who gave his mount the best possible chance to win this race. Realizing the fact that this horse was tackling such a long trip for the first time in his career, he saved ground for most of the way and conserved Arabian Prince's energies for a final effort. The tactics suited the winner perfectly. Despite getting passed by Fleet Indian in the final furlong, Arabian Prince refused to surrender and kept battling till the very end. The final victory margin of three parts of a length capped this brilliant effort.
This year's Leger lacked big names, and the withdrawal of Becket made it an open affair. The six acceptors included the highly rated pair of Fleet Indian and Arabian Prince. Their performances signified their superiority over the others. As none of them had ever run beyond a mile and a half, there were question marks over their staying abilities. Arabian Prince and Fleet Indian had a common line, as both had run against Becket this season. While Arabian Prince had beaten Becket in The Maharaja's Cup, Fleet Indian had run a close second to him in The Chief Justice's Cup. The two of them were closely matched on most counts, as they even shared an identical rating. The late rushing performance of Arabian Prince in The Maharaja's Cup had caught the eye of the punters, and they expected him to repeat today. The horse started as an even-money favourite in this last classic of the Summer Season.
Mr. Zeyn Mirza & Trainer J S Dhariwal leading Arabian Prince (J G Sampson Up), Winner of The Bangalore St. Leger (Grade-II)
The free striding of Leave It To Me set a modest early pace, and Prakash had her on a tight leash as the runners appeared for the first time in front of the grandstands. Arabian Prince was tucked-in behind the leader, and was soon joined on his outside by Topkapi. Suraj Narredu and Fleet Indian had settled a couple of lengths behind the leading group, and these four runners began to move ahead of the others. They raced in single file for most of the way, and the pace remained comfortable till they approached the final bend. The first one to feel the heat was Topkapi. He was unable to hold his position any longer and was quick to fade from the scene. Leave It To Me led into the straight, but it was quite obvious that her advantage was going to be shortlived. Arabian Prince and Fleet Indian were moving better than her, and it was only a matter of moments before they would overtake her. This is exactly what happened near the distance post. The two market leaders began their march towards the winning post and raced alongside for rest of the way. Suraj was able to nudge Fleet Indian ahead of Arabian Prince, but that did not last very long, as he was unable to sustain his charge. Arabian Prince kept responding to Sampson's handling, and was seen getting stronger at the finish. The final result was a comfortable victory for Arabian Prince over Fleet Indian and a tired Leave It To Me. A jubilant Sampson returned to a thunderous applause from his large group of admirers.
The only other trophy event in the day's card was a maidens event over 1,200 metres. There was a huge hype around the Padmanabhan-trained Elusive Way in this race. The small-made filly had been recording some amazingly fast timings in her morning trials, and the track reporters were waiting to see her doing the same in an actual race. She was supported with gay abandon and was backed down to half-money favouritism. The filly was definitely looking better than ever, and her looks justified the short odds being quoted on her. Suraj Narredu eased her into an early lead, and led leisurely into the straight. Alexander Helios and Emerald chased her for most of the way. The filly was alerted to her task at this stage. She was given her head and asked to quicken. The response was almost immediate, as she lengthened her strides and marched towards the winning post. Elusive Way registered one of the most impressive victories of this season. Without being touched with a whip, the filly had flown in the straight. Despite being eased up in the final stages of this event, Elusive Way had clocked a smart timing of a little over One Minute and Twelve Seconds. History has shown us that most juveniles that are able to do this so early in their careers are destined to climb much higher. Elusive Way's pedigree is full of speed, and her trainer is bound to capitalize on her true potential.
Another maidens race over a marginally longer trip was won by Vijay Singh's Record Breaker. He was perhaps the highest rated maiden at the start of the day. Numerous second placed efforts at his home centre saw this Kolkata-based horse being rated at 51, and it was apparent that he would start as a firm favourite in this race. His run in The Colts Trial Stakes, wherein he had run prominently till the bend, was more than enough to score today. The nice looking horse led from the start and wasn't unduly extended to land the spoils. He finished many lengths ahead of Matias and Indian Royalty.
A Class II sprint produced one of the closest finishes of the afternoon. Vijay Singh's three year-old Hall Of Glory was making his debut in open company. It is rare to see a trainer pitching a juvenile straightaway in Class II, but that is exactly what happened in this race. Hall Of Glory had won thrice in Kolkata and had participated in a terms race earlier this season. He was fancied ahead of Classic Charge, who had finished a close second in his only outing this season. The 12 Kg difference in handicap looked extremely significant. The speedy three year-old was touted as a good bet and slammed down to odds-on favouritism. Imran Chisty decided to push him into an early lead, and was soon clear of the chasing pack led by Alpha Baby and the others. Jockey Stephane was able to hold the top-weighted Classic Charge in mid-group till the heads turned for home. Hall Of Glory travelled nicely thereafter and was more than five lengths clear of Classic Charge as they raced past the furlong marker. The scene changed rapidly thereafter. The favourite started to slow down at this stage and Chisty's whipping refused to yield any results. On the other hand, Classic Charge's response to Stephane's handling was startling. He made up the leeway in a jiffy and was soon ahead of the favourite. The followers of Hall Of Glory were stunned by this sudden turn of events.
Trainer Britto was the only professional to score a double on Sunday. He picked up both the Divisions of a class V sprint through the medium of Good Gift and Saratoga. The allowance claimed by apprentice Khurshad helped Good Gift score today. He followed the speedy Gara Fluid till the bend before assuming command of the situation. A heavily backed Cute Angel tried her best in the straight, but was unable to go near the winner. Gara Fluid held on to the third spot ahead of a disinterested Constance. The last-named is looking quite fit and his connections are likely to strike before the end of the season. Saratoga was taken on a start-to-finish mission by PS Chouhan, and these tactics seemed to suit this runner. John tried hard astride Allegro to nail the leader, but it turned out to be a futile exercise. Saratoga was in no mood to surrender and was travelling comfortably till the very end. Sirajuddin's Moment Of Truth ran a forward race, and showed that she is getting ready for a long-pending success.
A couple of top-weighted runners scored from end to end, and completed the rest of the day's proceedings. First it was JS Pillay's Youre A Legend, who enjoyed the three kilos claimed by apprentice Gautam Raj, and sped away to a runaway victory. His blistering early pace was too fast for the others. The fancied trio of Snow Peaks, Supreme Arch and Admiranda floundered under pressure and flopped miserably. It was left to a late-finishing Defiance to run into second place. However, a bigger shock was reserved for the end. Md Khan's Voodoo Moon carried jockey Shahid to an unexpected victory. He led from the start and got stronger at the finish. Diamond Shower chased him all the way and settled for the second spot. Voodoo Moon rewarded his backers by paying a dividend in excess of 60/1 at the totalizators.