OTHERS

Blue Hare picks up the blue riband for juveniles

BANGALORE

WHEN BLUE HARE nailed Aprilia, who was backed to the exclusion of the field in the Juvenile Sprinters' Million, the most striking thought was how could the odds-layers be so generous on the Brave Hunter colt. Veteran Madhav Mangalorkar was struck down by a similar thought when his ward showed amazing turn of foot to collar the front running Aprilia barely a furlong out. ``I was surprised by the price that was offered on Blue Hare. I always thought, he had as good a chance as any in the race''.

Nearly two weeks ago, Blue Hare went through his paces with meticulous ease in a mock race that was more a testing ground for the gelding who had picked up a bout of fever. The problem itself was never alarming but it had in a way forced him out of his Summer appearance on May 27. Mangalorkar said he drew a lot of comfort from the gelding's pace work and was quite optimistic that his charge had come out fighting fit. No doubt Aprilia's lead up was a brilliant sprint show. This is what swayed public opinion and purse towards her. The Don't Forget Me filly went crackling to the front and until a furlong and a half looked relatively safe. It was in the final furlong that she felt the pinch of a hot trail. Blue Hare quickened so well and so swiftly that the gelding had shot past Aprilia even as a wayward Hero Worship was battling on and in doing so was clearly hampering The Archer whose big bulk was menacingly closing the gap on the trio in front.

It is no exaggeration to say that if traffic had been smooth in those baying moments, the Lloyd Marshall-ridden The Archer would have scripted a ghastly upset. So well was he travelling towards the end. A stride before Hero Worship's alarming drift in, The Archer, cramped for room, had already scrubbed the rails and the ensuing bump was almost inevitable for Rajinder could hardly exercise proper control. An objection was imminent. Quite rightly The Archer moved up a place ahead of Hero Worship. It will be no surprise if the big made The Archer causes a ripple or two in the near future.

Aprilia was gallant in defeat and may take her time to spring back into winning groove again. Blue Hare is likely to race once more during the season before being rested till Winter. Sprinters Cup is a faraway destination. But if the gelding holds his form in the next seven to eight months, it could mean a realistic target. That is what Mangalorkar has in mind.

Hello Baby let down a huge following. She turned out to be not half as good as the price indicated. The backing for her seemed to stem from her finish behind some big names in the fillies trial. It is a well established racing truism that it would always be beneficial to see the quality of those who finish behind a runner than go by the quality of those who finish ahead. Hello Baby was sorted out in quick time by Aerobatic and Pink Squirrel who got down to a dogged fight.

Despite travelling wide, Pink Squirrel got up in time, prompting Krishnan to pump his fist in the air. Pink Squirrel's victory seemed to queer the pitch for the owner, Mr. A. Raghava Reddy who less than hour later was celebrating Blue Hare's victory. But a grand treble for the owner was thwarted when Ankole got narrowly beat by Kirkcaldy. Usually a free running type, Ankole had hiccups soon after the start and was forced to run in a style he is not used to. Though Jagdish Shukla managed to cover a lot of ground in the straight, he found Kirkcaldy kick on to a resolute win. Kirkcaldy's victory should ring in some happiness for her sire Tiajuana, who is struck by a few physical niggles in his home at the Kehelan Stud. Grand Illusion gradually faded out of contention, heightening concern that his workline may not jell with his performance on the track.

One rider who can catch your eye, either in victory or defeat, is Mark Gallagher. He has been riding some good races this season and on Mr. Belvedere he mixed intelligence with friendly persuasion to outride Aslam Kader on Arikana. Arikana has this strange habit of ``not passing'' the one in front. It must have been frustrating for Aslam who switched her well off the pace and then sent her in hot pursuit of Mr. Belvedere midway up the straight. At one point it looked as if Arikana had the measure of Mr. Belvedere only to find the Ponnappa trainee surging clear. Obviously, Ponnappa has effectively reshaped Mr. Belvedere's career. Star Chieftan was one youngster who probably felt ``lost'' among these seasoned campaigners. Beating a bunch of his own age was no big deal for the well bred Star Chieftan but this huge step in class certainly was.

If Star Chieftan turned out to be rather disappointing ride for B. Prakash, there were two more solidly backed propositions that went horribly wrong for him. Forestry always had a question mark over reliability. Somehow on Sunday, Forestry seemed to be low on motivation. Money Spinner darted to the front and must have been pleasantly surprised not to be bothered by any at any stage. Interestingly, Money Spinner had remained ``aloof'' last time and the stipes had seen nothing amiss. Probably they prefer to react rather than ``act''!

Star Liner and B.Prakash got pathetically stuck in the gate. Golden Collection made all the running and quite stoically held back Acceptor who was full of running towards the end. Walk In The Clouds made the finish interesting by staying close to Golden Collection for a such a long way in the straight. But by the end of the day, B. Prakash still could afford a smile of triumph because he knew, Star Pegasus, the son of Amazing, Bay will go far.

Amazing Bay having given Dr. Ramaswamy his first ever Indian Derby success in his own colours, the attention was rivetted on one of her progenies. The smooth striding Star Pegasus took over the running into the turn and was speeding away from his rivals in the end to register an emphatic victory. With time and furnishing, Star Pegasus is bound to carry the Classic aspirations of the stable.

The ultra-consistent Classic Belle at last hooked her nose to the winning post. The Ponnappa-trainee took the field on and came into the straight with a healthy cushion to run out a worthy winner in the hands of apprentice Surjeet Singh. But without taking the merit of this win away it must be said that half help for Classic Belle had come from Rajesh Singh who botched up his ride on the well-supported Butter Sponge. On more counts than one Rajesh was found wanting, his choice of ground and feeble finishing topping the list.

At about this time last year Allocated was getting raving reviews. But somehow the Placerville-Artic Theme gelding got into the back- stage so to speak. That prominence has been restored to a large extent following Allocated's pillar-to-post victory in the Karnataka Sub-Area Cup on Saturday. Taking on his conqueror in the last meeting, Royal Satin, on relatively better terms, Allocated completed a bloodless victory, not allowing his nearest rival Acute the liberty of coming anywhere near his shadow. Its no suprise if Allocated takes a Pune route for some richly endowed races there. Comet Star was dealt a rather cruel knock by One So Wonderful at a critical phase of the race, taking the sting out of the five-year old mare, who despite this setback gallantly rallied on to the frame. Nature seemed to balance things for Comet Star who prevailed over One So wonderful for a minor place in a tight finish. As usual Bank Balance was at his best when the race was as good as over.

Bangalore roads are notorious for chaotic and indisciplined traffic. The City's race track is no better. There seems to be scant respect for lane discipline. Bumping matches and skirmishes have become common sight. Two fancied runners were so badly knocked at the gate during the week-end that they couldn't quite recover. If the authorities think that slapping a fine here and handing out a suspension there will set things right, they are sadly mistaken.

Tal was by far the most unfortunate victim of this gate rage. Little later Just Do It suffered the same fate. A runner, more importantly a fancied one at that, being chopped off at the gate should be viewed with serious concern, whether the nature of the offence itself is intentional or accidental.

The officialdom should ensure that jockeys follow lane- discipline and are particularly cautious before they cross the red line.

Having lost his rhythm at the start Tal just could not come round in the straight. Though he put up a sterling fight before going down to the surprise Calcutta packet Alicyclic. In fact Vijay Singh-trained Alicyclic veered out in the straight though the drift caused no harm to any of his pursuers.

The well fancied Just Do It couldn't. The start itself was so bizzare that Risk Me Now nearly came a cropper before Rajesh Singh recovered his poise and stuck to a trouble-free route wide off the field all the way. Just Do It and Crown Witness were also victims of this melee the root cause of which was identified as the wayward ways of Imran Chisty on National Star and Nasir Imam on Don King. Both riders were suspended. The untroubled Aryawun took the shortest route home to put pressure on the field but once tackled by Risk Me Now, the Mahaesh trainee raised the last chukle.

Sunspangled won the hard way the day's opener at cramped odds and it is highly unlikely that this Don't Forget Me filly will ever get such a short quote the rest of her life. In this poor bunch, Black Ocean did the early running and got away with second ahead of Proflare on whom S. Babu was quite gingerly. The Stipes took the case to the Stewards who found S. Babu guilty of unsatisfactory riding. In the course of the enquiry it was pointed out that Proflare had sharp molars on either side of the lower jaw and that the colt was tending to hang. This explantion was unacceptable to the Stewards, who paradoxically in a case that came up before them last week had endorsed the trainer's contention then that ``tooth caps'' had caused the horse to hang!. Do these sharp molars choose their victims!

Paranjyothy by all accounts carried the right money to a no- nonsense victory, Krishnan doing everything right to land the gamble for trainer Puttanna. Furia Rossa's finishing effort yet again suggests that she should go over a mile and beyond.

When did one among the lowest rated horses last win in Bangalore! Quite a few struggled to find the answer. But for the future Oscar has provided a clue. Rated as lowly as 0.5, Oscar slammed a field of duds. Zulia's rated just two kgs above Oscar finished second in race that saw two of the most popular selections, Seat Of The Master and Fighter's World hopelessly out of tune.

Resist The Force duly carried his last run promise to a splendid victory over Al Habib who clearly needed this run, having taken to the track after a long break. Warren Singh did just about enough to get Grisogono for place money without exerting himself or his mount.

Olympic Queen was smashed in the ring so to say. The filly's surface form makes no great reading. But so also is the case with most of the others in the field.! Al Bashir knocked the railings and came down soon after the start. The field itself was split into two distinct groups. Imperial Force had to be badly checked. Free of any trouble, Olympic Queen shot past His Heirness and was a street clear of Briscay. The temptation was to question Olympic Queen's credentials. But who else would you have backed in a poor field like this. After all B. Prakash is India's current rage. If that doesn't bowl you over, I am affraid nothing else will!

H. S. MANJUNATH