• Punjabi Girl wins The Fillies Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
  • Sir Cecil wins The Colts Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
By Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)
Friday 28 Feb 2014
Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)

Unlike the three previous previews, we know for certain that 14 flying machines have accepted for this race and that Amelia will not be running. Mention of Amelia is important because she had won the Dr. S.C. Jain Sprinters' Championship, Gr.2 on her last start and that race has had a significant impact on the result of Sprinters' Cup, Gr.1 in the past. Amelia, though, will not be missed much for five other runners from that race are in contention here and have a part to play.

The relation between the two races has been mentioned earlier but it bears a repetition. The R.W.I.T.C., Ltd. Committee Trophy was renamed in 1995 and the very first winner - Exclusive Virtue went on to win the Sprinters' Cup at Calcutta. Since then, Indiscretion, Blue Horizon, Oasis Star (twice) and Nefyn have won both the races. There have been 19 winners of the Dr. S.C. Jain Sprinters' Championship so far of whom one did not run in the Sprinters' Cup, six have won at the invitation week-end and eight have placed.  

As far as the generations go, it is a nip and tuck between the Classic crop and older horses with the four year-olds winning in 18 of the 35 runnings. It used to be bad race for the favourites - just 13 winners - in the earlier days but there have been five in the last ten renewals who have headed the betting market. The favourites all seem to favour the Malakpet track for they have scored four times in seven runnings.


Amelia won the Dr. S.C.Jain Sprinters' Championship, Gr.2 this year and she was followed immediately by Mariinsky, Dancing Phoenix, Ishpingo and Rosie Sunshine with Nefyn not too far away. Mariinsky was decidedly unlucky in that race as she attempted to come from off the pace, found a wall horses in front and had to weave her way through. A winner of two mile Classics, she chose not to run in an Oaks and keep the powder dry for an invitation week-end double.

Dancing Phoenix, Dancing Prances - who did not run in the Dr. S.C. Jain Sprinters' Championship and Rosie Sunshine represent the Classic generation like Mariinsky. The three of them have won 14 races between them. The gelding Dancing Phoenix has three of his five wins over 1100 m. and the other two over 1200 m. Dancing Prances (4 wins) and Rosie Sunshine (5 wins) have won only over 1200 m. Ishpingo, like Dancing Phoenix, is a Manjri-bred and runs in the colours of the Mistrys though the former is trained by Dallas Todywalla and the latter by Faisal Abbas. Ishpingo is a six year-old gelding who has studiously worked his way up the scale.

The remaining Mahalakshmi challenger is Nefyn who will be at Malakpet defending his crown. Nefyn is a eight year-old. He has raced just 19 times in his long career and notched up 10 wins. He has had two runs in 2014 in the first of which he was third to Rosie Sunshine and Dancing Phoenix and he failed in the next to finish closer than seventh in the Dr. S.C. Jain Sprinters' Championship though he was eased off in the closing stages. His being so sparingly raced suggests that he needs careful nursing which has so far been provided by his veteran schooler Bezan Chenoy. His two runs would surely have primed him otherwise his trainer would not have accepted the invitation. Named, presumably, after a sea- side town in Wales, Nefyn is sired by Senure like the flying filly Oasis Star. Incidentally, his full-sister Riyasat won the Indian Oaks, Gr.1. Since Riyasat and Nefyn have the same DI, it is be wondered how votaries of Dr. Steven Roman's system explain the stark difference in aptitudes.

The Mumbai contingent is formidable and versatile. It has a Classic sprinter-miler in Mariinsky and five other specialist sprinters. The specialist sprinters have had 69 starts between them and only four of them - all over 1400 m. have been beyond 1200 m. Their running styles are different, too. Dancing Phoenix prefers to get down to serious business right away; others are comfortable being in the van or just off the pace while Nefyn invariably comes with a late run.


Casting eyes over the other eight runners representing four centres, the names which stand out are Speed Six, Kohinoor Wish and Ancient Wonder. Six Speed was thought of as a Classic type in his first year when he was second to Pronto Pronto in the Bangalore Colts' Championship Stakes, Gr.1 and was to have run in the Kingfisher Derby Bangalore, Gr.1 but was a late withdrawal. His eight wins have all come short of a mile and he has been readied for Saturday with two consecutive wins over 1200 m. in which he has beaten Shivalik Star (twice), Chul Bul Pandy and Esteban. His dam Six Speed and her full-sister Haunting Memories were Gr.1 Classic milers; both ventured further and both placed second in Kingfisher Derby Bangalore, Gr.1. Ultimately, though, both returned to sprinting with Haunting Memories winning the Sprinters' Cup, Gr.1 at Calcutta. Dr. Vijay Mallya has prominent entries in all the important events over the week-end but his pair of Mariinsky and Speed Six in this race provides him with his best winning chance.

The doughty Kohinoor Wish has been spoken of in the preview of the Super Mile for which he has not accepted preferring, instead, to take his chance in the Suresh Mahindra Multi-Million, Gr.3. Two horses with which trainer P. Quinn has excelled since taking them over from Mumbai are Ocean and Beyond - who runs in the Invitation Cup and Ancient Wonder. The second named won his last race in Bangalore on 5 June when he had the beating of Speed Six and Chul Bul Pandy. Ancient Wonder, like Nefyn, is a eight year-old. At his best, he was equally adept over 1400 m. or 1200 m. though he needed a strongly run race to do his best over the shorter distance.

Two runners in the race whose rating is only in double figures are the four year-olds Dancing Prances and Whispering Gallery. Whispering Gallery is a got-abroad interestingly bred for both her sire and dam are bred on Mr. Prospector-Seattle Slew-Northern Dancer cross. This filly, trained by Neil Darashah, has won all her three races over 1200 m., the last one at Hyderabad. The young trainer's father saddled Time and Place to win the Sprinters' Cup, Gr.1 at Hyderabad in 1988.


Native Knight and Nefyn will turn up on Saturday defending their honour having won their respective races last year at Calcutta. Both are eight year-olds. Both were born in Pune area in January 2006. Both are geldings. Native Knight is trained by Narendra Lagad while Bezan Chenoy schools Nefyn. It may generally be not known that Narendra Lagad served his apprenticeship as a trainer with Bezan Chenoy.