A bumper New Year's Day crowd spent an extraordinary day at the Calcutta racecourse on Tuesday. Traditionally marked as a day, when the city, who exchange season's greetings, while the thoroughbreds go about their business as usual, visitors returned home happy after enjoying a fair share of excitement in both spheres.
There were head-turners galore, as well as thrills aplenty on the track.
After drawing a blank in the first five races, trainer Vijay Singh rattled off a hat trick in the last three events of the afternoon. His winners were Accalia, Oxford Street and Elusive Study. All these runners are owned by his chief patron Deepak Khaitan, Khaitan led in another winner, Bath-trained Imperial Romance.
The most amazing result was in the afternoon feature event. The Indian Produce Stakes, which saw a stunning victory for Vijay Singh trained Accalia. The filly by Diffident out of Amantran lost eight lengths at the start but moved with giant strides from a hopeless position in the straight to land the spoils in the hands of Neeraj Rawal. Stablemate Arcology was fancied to deliver the goods but Christopher Alford found nothing extra, when he gave him full throttle at the distance post.
Public choice Piato was handled in a pedestrian manner by Mallesh Narredu, not that it would have made any difference to the ultimate result.
Barring Accalia and Entrepreneur, it was by and large an afternoon when punters got the better of the exchanges with bookmakers. As many as five on-money favourites were first past the winning post, namely Supreme Attraction, Apostrophe, Imperial Romance, Oxford Street and Elusive Study.
Some of the city's professionals were irked by the manner in which imports from western India dominated the first three races. Patrick Quinn pulled off a fine gamble with Italian Affair (Mark Reuben up) in the curtain-raiser before Aarti Doctor got into the act with retained rider C.S. Jodha to notch up a fine double with Supreme Attraction and Apostrophe. The Mumbai apprentice handled both runners with a degree of confidence. The stick had to be used liberally atop the former as Loughborough posed a serious threat near the distance post.
The fashionable bred Apostrophe however faced no such problems as the ante-post favourite Saarah Alam was all at sea, when jockey Mark turned on the heat.
Neeraj Rawal notched up the first of his two winners, when he guided Bath-trained Imperial Romance to a smooth victory in the Star Magic Cup. The chestnut gelding pegged back Conde Nast without batting an eyelid. However, it must be noted that the winner was in receipt of 12kg from the top-weight.
The Cico Park Cup saw Mark Reuben pull off a marvellous victory with Entrepreneur. The Robin Corner ward ate up ground in the final furlong, to peg back runaway favourite Altissimo.
The day's last two races were all Vijay Singh. His runners dominated the sprints. Neither Oxford Street nor Elusive Study had to be stretched to land the spoils. Thus, visitors left for home on a happy note on the first day of the New Year.
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