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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wonder Smile Lifts Bangalore Oaks

The Bangalore Oaks (Grade II) attracted a very small field of five runners with the 1000 Guineas winner, Wonder Smile standing tall amongst this bunch of fillies. On sheer rating she was two classes superior to her nearest rival, and the bookmakers had no hesitation in offering very cramped odds on her. Agassiz after her last effortless victory over a staying trip, changed hands and now ran in the colours Of Dr. Vijay Mallya, who had pitched her as a final entry in this classic.

The race itself saw Agassiz going to the front and setting a good pace. Welcome Back, Wonder Smile and Mother's Pride were seen cantering along in close attendance. The field started bunching up at the turn, with the favourite moving up easily on the wide outside and cruising past the rest. Wonder Smile was eased up near the winning post, many lengths ahead of a hard ridden Welcome back and a tiring Agassiz. It was reported that Agassiz had splayed a plate during the race, but that may not have altered the result in any way. Wonder Smile shall now be targeted at the big one on Republic Day.

The Ardent Knight Cup saw the Prakash ridden Fantastic Quest being backed down in a big way with a fair bit of support coming for the Darius trained and fashionably bred Excellent Ability. The favourite had the benefit of two runs, and that came in handy when he quickened nicely in the straight and passed a front running Greens. The latter showed a lot of speed and can be earmarked for an early success. Excellent Ability was desperately in need of this run, since it struggled to get the better of the early leader Nearco Master and finished a tame third.

The day started with a fine performance by an unheralded three year old called Fleeting Arrow (Burden of Proof-Sabre Dance). This nice looking colt was looking a bit soft in the parade ring, and understandably. so, since it was the first run of his career. His trainer Babu Rao seems to have realized the capabilities of his charge considering that he was made to take part in 1400 metres. Safari and Touch of Magic were the joint favourites with the rest being available at 10's and over. Safari, who had already had two impressive runs under her belt, was taken to the front and was cruising into the straight, when she found Fleeting Arrow on her outside. There was hardly a contest as Fleeting Arrow lengthened his strides and went away to beat his tablemate Undue by a widening margin. Safari plodded on to be third, while Touch of Magic was totally outclassed. Fleeting Arrow's timing and style of running suggest that he is one of the top colts at this centre and should be prominent in the big races slated later in the year.

Prakash ridden Global Genius was confidentially backed to win a class IV sprint for older horses. Trainer Warren Singh chose to use a five kilo claimer on his ward Worth a Million, and decided to send him to the front. Apprentice Gautam Raj rode hands and heels, and did not permit Global Genius to come anywhere near him. Prakash had to be content with second place. when he whipped his horse to beat Hold the Fort into third position.

Another favourite from Ganapathy's yard, Storming Brown ridden by O' Donoghue was beaten into fourth place by Jersey Power, Power Punch and Lightenin Blues. O' Donoghue weighed in less than what he was supposed to be carrying in the race, and was deprived of his position after a steward’s enquiry.

Apprentice jockey Gaurav Sapra rode three public choices in the last three events of the day. He got beat on all of them. He started with Eshwar's Alinski, on whom he was beaten into second place by the front running Darktan. Alinski did manage to put his neck in front at the distance post, but the hard ridden Darktan came back on the rails and won in a close finish. Damgood finished a respectable third.

On Secret Fury, he took a good position from the start and sat behind the early leading pair of Amazing Forest and Ciampino. When he saw Appu relaxing Ciampino into a comfortable fourth position, Gaurav pushed Secret Fury and went in chase of Amazing Forest. In the last 300 metres the field started to close in, as Secret Fury started to tire. It was finally a hard ridden Ciampino, who got up in the last stride and beat Amazing Forest and Oro Neiro in a blanket finish.

Nityanand trained Plum Pudding was his third ride. This filly was the rage in the betting ring and came in for a lot of support to start as a clear favourite. She seemed to be travelling well and picking up the front runners one by one. However the early leader Don Cherry was a tough nut to crack, as he was seen holding on to his lead. Ryan Marshall made free use of the whalebone on Don Cherry and held a late finishing Action Hero and Plum Pudding at bay.

The stewards met after the last race of the day to enquire into the running and riding of the hot favourite Stanza Starry in yesterdays races. Trainer M Eshwer and Apprentice Gaurav Sapra were produced before the stewards. It is learnt that both of them have been suspended till 31st July 2008.

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