Royal Runner; Majestic Winner
The result brought roars of delight from the massed Happy Valley stands.
Peter A K Cheam on the three-year-old gelding NAZAKAT run down fancied CELESTIAL CALL in a breathtaking finish to the 1,575 metres race on the sand-track.
OPEN VERDICT and CELESTIAL CALL were first to show from MONEY FIRST and PROFESSIONAL.
Going out of the straight MONEY FIRST went to the lead from OPEN VERDICT, PROFESSIONAL, CELESTIAL CALL, STONE AGE, ALL SMILES and NAZAKAT.
At the 975 metre mark MONEY FIRST was still in front of the rest, with NAZAKAT improving.
Four hundred metres out, OPEN VERDICT had taken over from a fading MONEY FIRST then came CELESTIAL CALL, NAZAKAT and CERTAIN RISE.
George Cadwaladr rode a classic race to position CELESTIAL CALL in the first four at the first turn from an outside barrier.
Then he made his run on the home turn with just over 300 metres to travel.
CELESTIAL CALL went clear at the top of the straight and appeared to be on his way to victory.
But NAZAKAT unleashed a tremendous finishing burst.
NAZAKAT won by three quarters of a length from CELESTIAL CALL with ALL SMILES 10 lengths away in third place ahead in front of CERTAIN RISE.
There could be no excuses for the beaten runners.
The race developed into a true test of stamina and staying power and the best horse on the night won.
Owners, the members of the Chinese Recreation Club syndicate were shaking their heads and saying to themselves “so close and yet so far.”
A winner at his last two starts, CELESTIAL CALL looked to have the race won when the field swung for home.
He showed his first glimpse of form since his dramatic win in griffin class last season.
American rider Bill Hartack filled fourth place on CERTAIN RISE.
OPEN VERDICT (3-1 favourite) made a determined bid to win for the Moore stable.
After being positioned near the pace and taking the lead passing the Rock, the mare’s lack of stamina was exposed and she tired to finish near the rear.
By the time he had reached the Rock he was tiring and his backers immediately knew that the gelding had no winning chance from that point.
Punters plunged heavily on Geoff Lane‘s mount STONE AGE (7-1) but their judgment was astray.
The gelding appeared to be struggling as they rounded the first turn and he shaped as though the sand track was not really to his liking first up.
But it was the staying power of NAZAKAT that wrenched the Cup from his connections.
With 200 metres to go it still looked like an English victory before Cheam unwound NAZAKAT for a superb finish.
After the race the crowded Members’ Stand, towering over the presentation dais on the grass track, cheered loudly.
Mrs Barma said afterwards: “It was so thrilling. I really can’t believe it. I did not think we were going to win when the other horse went in front. It has been a wonderful night.”
He never really expected to win, at most a place.
When NAZAKAT won, it was all at short notice that he was not really prepared.
He felt his wife was much calmer.
Acknowledgement to Mr Peter YUEN for supplying data.
Acknowledgement to Mr T H BARMA for supplying photos.