On a warm sunny afternoon, the Calcutta races got off to an eventful start on Saturday with the Stipendiary Stewards coming down heavily on champion jockey Christopher Alford for his indifferent handling of the piping hot favourite Arcology which went down to the friendless ownermate Arisaka. The rider has been suspended from March 18 till April 11, both days inclusive.
Alford however made amends for his dismal show by riding a gem of a race astride the Vijay Singh-trained second favourite Aristotle available at 5/2. He brought the top-weight with a flourish in the final furlong to get the better of the Ramaswamy-owned pair of Right Again and Royal Falcon and lift the Nationalistic Cup.
Trainer Harvinder Singh Bath enjoyed great success during the afternoon as he led in a well-deserved treble comprising Bright Blossom, Acrostic and Master Coup. The Stewards were however quick to pounce on the win of the first named as he had finished in the ruck in his earlier outings. The trainer was warned and told to ensure that his charges run more consistently in the future.
Acrostic made the Navy Cup a start to finish affair. The on-money favourite Triple Edge found nothing extra in the tank when asked for an effort by jockey Imran Chisty.
In the hands of Neeraj Rawal, Master Coup completed a superb hattrick for his owners Mr and Mrs Sol Noah. The five-year-old gelding pegged back the other two fancied runners Smarty Pant and Brilliant Victory, without too much trouble and went on to lift the H.H. Maharaja Jagaddipendra Narayan Bhup Bahadur of Cooch Behar Memorial Cup. The presentations were made by Bengali actress Moon Moon Sen whose presence added to the afternoon’s glamour factor on Women’s Day.
A close finish was witnessed in the INS Hooghly Cup which saw the bottom-weight Matrix make every post a winning one. Agnation may have turned the tables had he not lost several lengths at the start. It was yet another black mark against Alford for the day.
The day’s most facile winner was Italian Beauty who won the lower division of the Arendal Handicap without raising a sweat. The chestnut filly was handled with fine understanding by Chouhan who obviously was keen not to exert her any more than was necessary.
Trainer Vikash Jaiswal and his rider (brother Vinay) pulled off a fine coup with El Cid in the day’s final event. The aged gelding showed without a doubt that he still has a zest for racing. Well done boys!
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