Racing : Horse
Extreme Contact maintains winning streak
By H.S. Manjunath
BANGALORE, JAN. 1. Good horses make good jockeys and Byramji-trained Extreme Contact is helping Harish raise his own profile.
The Conquering Hero-Our Marie bay filly scampered home in Saturday's feature to complete the first hat-trick of the season. But the hugely favoured Extreme Contact, who is set to give the local community a lot to cheer in the Sprinters Classic, ran into a patch of rough in the form of Symphony of Fire before pulling that little bit extra which made all the difference.
From her last win to the Post on Saturday the filly had nothing much work to show but she had since furnished out so well that the public refused to look beyond her. Step up in class was a major challenge for Extreme Contact but sitting so pretty on the scale, she had to produce her now familiar final kick to stay true to her splendid form.
Allabreva and Winelight cut each other's throat but these two speedy customers threw enough scare as the favourite herself was far less pacey in the early part. Given to frequent mood and form swings, Symphony of Fire had lost a bit of her Sprinters' Cup gloss but she struck her best form for quite some time to make things real tough for Extreme Contact. That shouldering an extra 14 kg on her back in relation to the winner!
One positive popping out of this narrow verdict for Extreme Contact is that she is an instinctive fighter and that she has greater scope for improvement than some of the older lot aspiring for sprint glory.
Nimitz went out in the opener as a well backed favourite and won like any such ought to since no one really put up a fight as such. For some strange reasons Surjeet Singh completely shut off his mount in the early part, losing sight of the fact that the best of Win Ameen had always been achieved when up in front. Fantastic Fortune would have made matters difficult for Nimitz if only the rider could generate more power in his hands.
The most difficult form clerking job is when two-year olds with some racing experience mix with freshers. While the scale of improvement is hard to judge in the case of juveniles with a couple of runs, the inherent ability of the freshers is likewise hard to guess. On the strength of his last run, Steinlen topped the betting market but the grey proved totally uneven to that support. Two placed runs by Grace And Faith may not have been sound evidence to push the chestnut filly's winning claim but she smacked those who passed her up right in their face with a resolute victory, giving trainer Dominic a back-to-back double. First timer Strombolix finished an honourable second sending his connections - an all women syndicate of 10 - into delirium. The son of Tiajuana has good action to go with a good build. Assumer, forced to travel wide round the bend, just about landed place money and may strip fitter next time.
After a string of disappointments, Anzac came good solely because the connections had seen the wisdom of exploiting the colt's stamina element which had never been in doubt. Apparently the trip more than anything was to Anzac's relish though while working himself to the front Anzac went dangerously close to Odeon when Ryan Marshall was about to make his run. Odeon's rider did take the issue to the Stewards Room, but the verdict was fair enough since the alleged interference would not have made difference to the outcome. For some one rotting in the rear in the last three starts a remunerative place for Carnival Crown was indeed good news.
A small field of five threw up a tantalising finish. Well nursed Star Splendour wore down Imperial Legend even as Silvano ran above himself and in doing so cruelly cut into Kyosoba. Ms. Silva may have been pleased with Silvano's turnaround in form but she ended up with a rap on her knuckles and a fine of Rs. 3,000 for causing that crucial check on Kyosoba. Favourite Aveyron was ironically the first one beat and she has probably found her ``mark''. The stamina factor being so strong on the dam side, Star Splendour seemingly had good reserves for the final furlong where the gelding joined issue with Imperial Legend, who is yet to redeem his pride that he had enjoyed at the time of his smashing entry into the world of racing.
Star Chieftan is another one who is clawing back to prominence. This well-bred gelding came well off the pace to post an impressive victory. The stable is upbeat that this talented youngster is now ready to show his mettle on the classic stage. Short of a run, Whatmore ran an encouraging race. Tapatio missed the jump but unaccountably was hustled in the back stretch. The point to note is that this gelding is better suited for longer trips.
A costly failure in Mysore when he had alarmingly shifted out to the outer sand, Rebelwithacause was a completely different individual on Saturday. Harish chose to stay in sight of the early leaders and when pressed for an effort, Byramji's ward readily accelerated to go past Niveditha and hold back with contempt Kilkemny. Genuine Article packed up clearly calling the filly's genuineness itself into question.
Friday's card was dominated by trainer Padmanabhan who missed a four-timer by Charente's short head loss to total stranger in Sheer Blossoms. The trainer's upswing in fortunes was underlined by a treble that was kicked off by an youngster whose bloodline traces to that galloping goldmine Winning Pretty, Padmanabhan's proud posession in the mid 90s.
Prince Valiant hit the front at the drop of the starter's flag and was soon putting daylight between himself and the rest. Prince Valiant cut a much smarter time for the conventional sprint than seasoned campaigners in higher classes, a broad hint that he is destined for greater glory. Red Mamma, despite being totally outclassed came up with a good stretch run and should be winning material soon enough.
Apprentice S. Ramesh played by his instinct when taking Charente to the front in the first quarter of the race. The filly came into the straight with a healthy cushion but went down fighting to the bottom weighted Sheer Blossoms who was the least fancied of the lot. Trainer Kuts laughed Sheer Blossoms win off an admission that it had come about as a pleasant surprise, given the filly's surface form. Charente should recoup this loss next time.
Just Do it was just not doing it all these days. But change of colours and stable perhaps spurred the gelding to new life. Laying in wait behind the front running Forest Pegasus, Apprentice Shukla worked his way to the front and safely held off Jai Bharath even as favoured So Thrilled dawdled into third. At the ``off'', So Thrilled's head had tilted to the right and the gelding was not particularly well away. Since So thrilled is back in business this season after a considerable break, this run should be forgiven.
With Desert Gold being pulled out on veterinary advice, the Friday feature was a five-horse affair which the six- year old Crystal Sky made it her own.
Harish was not hanging about as he set the terms and convincingly beat Augill Castle who again had to play second fiddle.
When the connections chose to bring retained jockey McCullagh for this one ride from his Mumbai base, it was a good lead on the level of optimism in the camp over Star Festival's chances. It was worth the trip for McCullagh who was called upon to use a load of his professional excellence to get the five year old mare to her winning groove. Machrie Bay queered the pitch for Star Festival until McCullagh got into his mount's skin and hauled her up to a popular victory.
National Tiger was not hard put to it. The only moment of anxiety for young A.Imran Khan was in getting the clear midway up the straight. Indigenous was a no danger second ahead of Rasna who did a fair amount of front running. Keep your eyes open for Royal Hunter the day he is placed over a longer trip.
Rounding the bend, Ms. Silva apparently lost her right stirrup. It is a scary thought for any rider but Whitehall soon bailed her out by darting to the front and fending off Psychedelic in the bargain. Whitehall's immediate form indeed makes poor reading but what is more baffling is the fact that how did a horse which the connections themselves have often portrayed as ``sluggish'' was so refreshingly chirpy?
Mr. Rashid Byramji (left), joint owner and trainer of Extreme Contact, receiving the Shantiniketan Cup from Mr. V.T. Velu, former Chairman of Bangalore Turf Club. - Photo : V. Sreenivasa Murthy
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