Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)
It is the Golconda 1000 Guineas which usually kicks off the winter Classics and this year will be no exception. The race is being sponsored for the first time Deccan Bookmakers and nine fillies have accepted including Attribute. Attribute's work schedule suggests that she, along with Centrestage and Capital Attraction, would be coming down to Hyderabad from Pune for Sunday's race. On the other hand, the China Visit filly is still a maiden and as Western India trainers habitually forget to scratch entries made for outstation Classics, it would not be too much of a surprise to see NDS against her name in the card.
Vijays Pride (Bertolini - Designer Chic) is certain to start as a short-priced favourite on the strength of her impeccable record. She is a winner of four of her six starts including the Bangalore Fillies' Championship Stakes, Gr.1 and the D.B.A. Hyderabad Fillies' Championship Stakes, Gr.3 and has never been off-the-board. She is yet to taste a defeat in a Classic, is unbeaten at Malakpet and no Hyderabad trained horse has so far finished ahead of her. Her rating of 95 places her a whole two classes ahead of the field. Two of her rivals, Racing Queen and Win and Enjoy, will be carrying the same colours and it is possible that trainer L.V.R. Deshmukh may use one or the other to set the pace.
On pure form considerations, Vijays Pride appears to have an easy task. In such cases, it is always preferrable to look for a negative pointer. In the case of Vijays Pride it is the fact that her last race course appearance was on 26 August. So she will be lining up on Sunday with the longest break when compared her rivals. On the other hand, she has had a mock race and this week has spurted quite impressively. Her trainer has come on considerably of late (his winning the year's first juvenile million at Pune with Decathlon was a further indication of his steady progress) and it highly unlikely that Vijays Pride will start underdone.
Vijays Pride has already had the measure of two Pune-based fillies Centrestage (Noverre - Naivement) and Capital Attraction (Home Affair - Luminary). Dr. Mallya's Centrestage finished much behind Vijays Pride in the Bangalore Fillies' Championship Stakes, Gr.1. and has since run third in her only run at Pune. Pesi Shroff would have brought her on since then and as she will be a runner with certain serious intention, she could figure in the scramble for places. Capital Attraction, the only grey in field, was third to Vijays Pride in D.B.A. Hyderabad Fillies' Championship Stakes, Gr.3, five lengths behind the winner with another Mallya filly, Angel Child, splitting the pair. Back in Pune, the older Ambrosia, yet another filly in the Mallya colours, beat her by three parts of a length. Angel Child, on the other hand, ran a fair race in Silverina's Calcutta Monsoon Derby, Gr.3. Centrestage and Capital Attraction (bred at Mebajeona like Vijays Pride) aren't coming down to Hyderabad for an outing so they will be on their mettle.
The filly with the best rating other than Vijays Pride is the K.S.V. Prasad Raju's Strides of Glory (Burden of Proof - Saddle Star). She started her career at Hyderabad with a hat-trick on wins but has not won since the end of January. She had three decent placed efforts during the Monsoon season at Hyderabad but was dead last in her last outing over 1400m on Borsalino's Deccan Derby day.
The lone challenger from Bangalore is Ultimate Desire (Mathematician - Lyric Queen) who is trained by Jaggy Dhariwal. The filly shed her maiden tag on her seventh start which was on 9 November, just 9 days ago. She will be taking on seasoned campaigners, perhaps, much too soon. She will run in the colours of her breeder Mr. S. Pathy and traces to the Djebe mare Stumped imported by the erstwhile Qutab Stud in the early 1960s. This is the family of the Indian Derby winner Desert Warrior, Bourbon King, Enter the Red, Lovely Smitha, Olympic Flame (whom Dhariwal trained) and others.
Exclusive (Cool Creek - Astride) has just one win to her credit and that was gained over 1100 m. For the record, the maiden Attribute (China Visit - Almandine) was beaten ja short-head on her last start over 1800 m. Her pedigree suggests that a mile may perhaps prove too sharp for her. Exclusive and Capital Attraction are from the first crops of their sires who died young; both have just one more crop to race.
PAST THE POST
Rather than give bare statistics of past races in which some names like Dr. M.A.M.Ramaswamy and trainer R.R.Byramji appear repeatedly, just one past winner of the race will be discussed in the previews of the coming winter Classics.
For the Golconda 1000 Guineas, that previous winner is SHEER DELIGHT (Red Rufus - Mahasakthi by Glory of Andhra). Sheer Delight, owned by Mrs. V.G. Saravanam and Mr. V.S. Dhanasekar and trained by R.R. Reddy, won the race in 1983 beating six other fillies of her age. At 9/4, she was the second favourite to Mr. R.M. Reddy's Affirm who headed the market at 6/4. Quickly out of the gates, jockey D. Parnell took a tug on the favourite and settled her behind Swiss Swish who had streaked to the front. She lost position round the bend but came up well in the straight. However, she had no answer when Sheer Delight came with wind in her sails and strode away to win by two lengths. Affirm failed to hold on to the runner-up berth as La Lagune 'necked' her close home. Backers of Sheer Delight who were making their way to collect the winnings were jolted when La Lagune's rider Conway lodged an objection against the winner for crossing. It was a while before the objection was overruled. That was the closest that F. Conway came to winning a Classic in India.
Sheer Delight was jockey J. Lowe's only winner at Malakpet that winter. Lowe, who was then based at Bangalore, rode a dozen Classic winners in India over a fairly long time including atleast one at each of the five principal winter centres.
Sheer Delight, bred by her owners at Clive Stud, is quite unique. She is the ONLY Classic winner in India whose sire as well as damsire have been Indian-breds. Red Rufus, India's first winner of the Indian Triple Crown and Invitation Cup, started his stud career at the Poona Stud. In the early 1970s, Clive Stud had an imported stallion called Rapparee. In a straight swap, Red Rufus moved to Clive Stud where he had a long and successful career. Rapparee died within a few years of moving to Poona Stud and his stud tenure was undistinguished. Zamindar of Chikkavaram's Glory of Andhra was from the first crop of Indian Derby winner Star of Gwalior. Having won the South India Derby, Gr.1, Glory of Andhra went to Mumbai for the Indian Derby. He became the first 'raider' to start that race as a favourite. However, it was another son of Star of Gwalior, Loyal Manzar, who won the race and went on to bag the Indian Triple Crown. Retired to Kunigal Stud, Glory of Andhra proved himself to be a useful sire.