• Punjabi Girl wins The Fillies Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
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By Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)
Thursday 09 Mar 2017
Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)
Of the existing stud farms in India, Manjri Stud is the second oldest, exceeded in longevity only by Kunigal Stud. Last year, Kunigal reached a milestone of a hundred Classic winners bred. This year, Manjri has done so, Kingoftheworld's South India 2000 Guineas enabling it to reach the landmark. Thus it joins Poonawalla Farms, Usha Stud, Dashmesh Stud, Chettinad Stud and Kunigal Stud in the exclusive Century Club There is a similarity between Kunigal and Manjri. Both have undergone three major changes of ownership, both continue to use the same name and the location remains the same.
Mr. Jehangir Rustomji Soparivala started what was known called the Royal Stud Farm under the chairmanship of Sir Sultan Chinoy in 1921. It was located, as it is even now, about ten kilometres from Pune on the Sholapur highway. Eighteen years later, Royal Stud Farm was purchased by the company Manjri Stud Farm. Maharaja Sir Jiwajirao Scindia of Gwalior already had a stud farm up north. A leading owner in Western India, he wanted to shift his breeding operation closer to the scene of action and in 1950 he acquired a controlling interest in Manjri. Soon, Manjri broke into the big league with Star of Gwalior winning the 1956 Indian Derby. Maharaja Sir Jiwajirao's untimely demise in 1961 at the young age of 44 was a severe blow to the blossoming of Manjri. His son, Madhavrao Scindia, was then a minor pursuing his studies in England. Following a short interregnum, the younger Scindia plunged whole-heartedly into racing. He had visions for Manjri and embarked on purchase of well-bred fillies from other studs which he could race and later retire to Manjri. However, as his political career grew, his racing interests waned and Manjri once again passed into a state of limbo.
In the mid-1980s, another young man, Mr. Shapoor Mistry of the Shapoorji Pallonji Group came into racing. He decided to have a stud farm also. Manjri, waiting to be revived, suited his requirements and was duly acquired.
The first Classic winner bred at Manjri was the 1949 Indian Oaks victress Liberty Belle. Of even greater importance was the arrival two years later of Hyder Ali, the first great stallion in independent India. Hyder Ali's first crop contained just two foals but one of them was Star of Gwalior who gave Gwalior its first Indian Derby and heralded  Manjri's most successful period. Star of Gwalior joined his sire in the Manjri stallion barn and over the next 20 years Manjri produced 55 Classic winners, placing it in the top three breeding establishments in the country along with Yeravada and Greenacres.  Manjri had a king-sized stallion barn in those days with Hyder Ali, his Indian Derby winning sons Star f Gwalior and Alijah, half-brothers Khan Saheb and Chhote Khan and the likes of Zinosca, Matombo, Aueole's half-brother Monkshood, the brilliant Gul Mohar, Lough Ine, Daybreak and a few others.
The later Manjri Stud stallions, possessing uninspiring names like The Liquidator, Disclose and Minimal Art, failed to make a mark and Manjri went into a comatose state. It handed over the baton to its new owners having bred 60 Classic winners in about 35 years.
Flirting Vision was the first Classic winner bred under the new regime. The 'got-abroad' won the Bangalore Summer Derby in 1991, a race which was also won by Littleover, the first Classic winner conceived and born at the "new" Manjri. Flirting Vision also won the Stayers' Cup while Littleover added the Indian Derby to her plaudits. Littleover was sired by Bolder Than Bold, the first stallion imported in the new era. The son of Plum Bold unfortunately died after all too brief a stint. The subsequent Manjri Stud stallions -- Classic Tale, Trojan Fen,  Don't Forget Me, Portroe, Major Impact, Senure and Phoenix Tower -- have all produced a Classic winner and kept the tally moving. The Champion Stud Farm title, however, has eluded Manjri. It is likely, though, that it may have bagged the title in earlier years. Unfortunately, no statistics for that period have been maintained. To become the Champion Stud Farm in India, a nursery needs to have a resident Champion Sire. The  recent Manjri stallions mentioned above haven't quite made it to that level. All eyes will hence be on Coventry Stakes, Gr.2 winner Strong Suit (Rahy - Helwa) whose progeny will start racing towards the end of this year. Strong Suit is a bit of a rarity; he is totally free of Northern Dancer.
Mr. Shapoor Mistry has a fair-sized string in racing consisting primarily of Manjri-breds. That is an advantage as it gives home grown talent the best of opportunity to succeed. Getting to the three figure mark in cricket is, no doubt, an achievement. The best batsmen in the world, though, consider it as merely to go on and get a really big one. One can be sure that the doyen of Manjri must be thinking on similar lines.
First Classic Winner - LIBERTY BELLE (Masked Jester - Redress) -  1949 Indian Oaks, Gr.1
Indian Derby winners.
STAR OF GWALIOR (Hyder Ali - Lady Emma)  - 1956
ROSE DE BAHAMA (Flower Dust - Bahama) - 1960
ALIJAH (Hyder Ali - Padmavati) - 1961
LOYAL MANZAR (Star of Gwalior - Indra Mohini) - 1962; Also won the Indian Triple Crown.
NIJINSKY (Zinosca - Natasha) - 1967
THUNDER STORM (Gul Mohar - Canary) - 1970
MANSOOR (King's Son - Butterfly) - 1973
LITTLEOVER (Bolder Than Bold - Sterling Lass) - 1994
DIABOLICAL (Major Impact - Double Quick) - 2007
100th Classic Winner - KINGOFTHEWORLD (Phoenix Tower - Sandslash ) - South India 2000 Guineas, Gr.2 - 2017.