It is a tricky card on Saturday in Pune. However, I have some picks.
In the second race over 2400 metres, my selection is The General. The Mallesh Narredu trainee was a comfortable winner two back in Pune. He had the beating of Aquamarine who was an easy winner last Sunday although running with her kind. In his second Pune venture, The General was overmatched. It was the race that Amazing Grace won. To be ridden by Yash Narredu, The General returns to handicap company on Saturday. Okavango’s form leaves a lot to be desired. Caesar’s Star has not won in ages. Al Shamsheer, a son of Yeats who won the Ascot Gold Cup four years in a row from 2006 to 2009, is likely to set the pace. Yash should not let Al Shamsheer get away with slow fractions. That is how Al Shamsheer beat the streaking Zazou in the waning days of the Mumbai campaign. Yash should tackle Al Shamsheer early enough. There is no denying that The General is the best on current form. Pace will be the key.
In the third, my selection is Zahrazan. The daughter of Arazan broke the duck in her Pune debut. She came out of post 13 and was on the lead in a matter of strides. In her next outing, despite drawing the fence, Zahrazan could do no better than take fourth. Zahrazan is a free-wheeling type and was in tight quarters and failed to put her best foot forward. The horses finishing ahead of Zahrazan have all performed well in Pune in recent weeks. On Saturday, Zahrazan comes out of post 12 in the 1000-metre race. Yash Narredu needs to show alacrity. Blasting out and getting the lead will be critical.
Enthralling was an eye-catching winner last time out. Raghubir Singh, an apprentice claiming a five-kg allowance, is Enthralling’s rider. Post one is a big blessing but why seek an apprentice’s services to get the weight benefit? That is not exactly a vote of confidence in the horse.
Abbey is my choice in the sixth. In her second career start in Mumbai as the season was ending, Abbey, a Phoenix Tower filly, was three parts off the winner. Running after a layoff, Abbey dismissed the strongly-fancied Magnum Opus with an eye-popping make-it-all effort. The three year-old filly has drawn three and has Yash Narredu in the irons. I believe that there is more to come.
Abigail left the maiden ranks in Mumbai. She was scratched two weeks ago in Pune with a swelling issue and that is a red flag. Fitness questions linger. Phoenix Fire, a last outing winner, returns and is a player. He dug deep to repel the bud from Magnum Opus. On the other hand, Abbey handled Magnum Opus with little or no fuss.
The final pick is Dramarama in the eighth race. She was unplaced in the 1000 Guineas on December 18, 2014. She returned to the racing wars on March 7, 2015. Carrying top weight (20-46) in a 1400-netre race, Dramarama, Colm O’Donoghue up, won in effortless fashion. The Phoenix Tower four-year-old goes in a 40-66 race on Saturday. She has above average ability. She runs well when fresh. She has drawn six and that makes a lot of options available to her.
You will see that, in general, I favor repeat winners. There is no substitute for current form. What you see is what you get in horse racing. Stick with what is known and avoid traversing unknown territory.