Monday, December 21, 2009

Richard super, Pesi fabulous: Dhunjibhoy

V for Victory: Jockey Richard Hughes gestures V as Jacqueline's owners and their families lead in the 2000 Guineas winner on Sunday at Mahalaxmi [Pic:]

The bold move by trainer Pesi Shroff, pitching Jacqueline in the 2000 Guineas field after her 1000 Guineas victory last Sunday, paid off handsomely when the King Charlemagne - Talita Kumi three-year-old filly tamed the 'boys' (read colts and geldings) to complete a Guineas double. She thus reeled off the first two Classics of the current Mahalaxmi racing season.

"Of course I was confident," said trainer Pesi Shroff in a post-race interview, "her 1000 Guineas victory was very good, she is in good condition, and I thought she deserved to be tested against tougher rivals."

However, Jacqueline's part owner Khushroo Dhunjibhoy made a candid confession when speaking to MiD DAY. "Inside, I was quite optimistic, but I was scared to say so openly. Because I thought this was a very tough set. My other horse, Cabriolet, also looked promising, and then there were Versaki and Sea Ruler. But it turned out to be a surprisingly easy victory for Jacqui."

Running in the silks of Mr & Mrs Vijay Shirke, who own her in partnership with KN Dhunjibhoy and Bergis M Desai, Jacqueline was yet again entrusted to Englishman Richard Hughes who had piloted her during the 1000 Guineas victory last Sunday. "Richard rode a super race," said a beaming Khushroo Dhujibhoy after the race, "and Pesi has done a fabulous job with Jacqueline."

Pat Smullen astride Versaki found himself in front as soon as the gates opened, and chose to set a moderate pace to Cabriolet, Mighty Crusader and Forest Flair, while Richard Hughes settled Jacqueline to the rear of the eight-horse field with only Sea Ruler and Native Knight behind her. On straightening for home, Cabriolet put pressure on Versaki, but both of them soon wilted as Jacqueline moved up with gigantic strides to assume command at the furlong marker. The only horse who put up some fight was Sea Ruler (M Fenton up). But Jacqueline and Richard Hughes soon frustrated them to win by a decent margin of two lengths. Versaki, who was unbeaten from six starts before this race, put in a sub-par performance when he finished a spent fifth, nearly six lengths behind the winner.

"I am doubly elated," said Vijay Shirke, in whose silks Jacqueline raced, "just last week she (Jacqueline) won the 1000 Guineas for me after a gap of 17 years, and now within a week's time, she gets me a Guineas double!"

(c) MiD DAY

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