• Punjabi Girl wins The Fillies Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
  • Sir Cecil wins The Colts Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
By Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)
Thursday 15 Jun 2017
Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)

A Classic is often won by a horse -- even if short on performance -- that has been targeted for a particular race and is 'spot on' come the day of running. That the Bangalore Fillies' Trial Stakes is one of the plums for which trainer Pesi Shroff aims his fillies is obvious because he has won the race four times in last nine years. Set Alight, Jacqueline, Amelia and Maisha are his four winners and though he has some way to go before he catches the top pair of A.B. David and R.R. Byramji -- seven wins each -- no trainer with a runner on Sunday in the race exceeds his tally.

This year, only three days of racing was conducted at Bangalore in the month of May. ,The Karnataka Juvenile Million, Gr.2, usually run on the second Sunday of the Summer Season, used to be good pointer to the first two Classics. Sadly, it has not been run this year. Only four of the thirteen fillies who will line up have had a run under their girths this term and two of them -- Romantic Star and Kangra --have won.

Romantic Star is the more interesting of the two fillies for several reasons. For starters, she is impeccably bred being by Multidimensional, a proven Classic sire, out of Moonlight Romance,  the only filly to have bagged the Grand Treble of Derby Bangalore-Indian Derby-Indian Turf Invitation Cup. She is trained by a leading Classic trainer in S. Padmnabhan. Add to that the fact she made her debut only last week and despite running erratically, scored an eye catching victory. Her Classic credentials are second to none. Now comes the flip side. Of late, her trainer has kick-started his Classic hopefuls from the Mysore season onwards.(He has won this race only twice. His last winner was Wandering Star way back in 1997 and that filly went into the race having raced thrice earlier. Incidentally, Wandering Star is the grandam of Romantic Star).  He rarely runs a horse within a week, especially in a competitive Graded event. The trainer must be having compelling reasons to depart from his usual methods and it boils down to whether one accepts them or not and P. Trevor who won on the filly when she ran last week has been released by URBB to ride the filly.

The other winner is Kangra (Western Aristocrat - Geogina). When the filly scored on her debut at Hyderabad, she was trained by D. Netto. However, it was trainer Sulaiman Attaolahi who saddled her when she won on the opening day of the season. Her dam had been imported by Highgrove Stud and is a winner of two races around a mile in Ireland. Kangra is her first foal to win from the three that she has had including one in Ireland. Georgina was taken over by Broadacres Stud when she was carrying Kangra and the filly races in the silks of the Mahindras. She certainly has demonstrated racing fitness of her side as she takes on a classy field.

Seven 'got-abroad' fillies have won this race with as many as five coming up trumps in the last ten years. There are two  'got-abroads' in the field this year and one of them  is Themis (Lord Shanakill - Soul Society)  who is also one of the two black-type winners in the race. She earned that distinction when finishing on well to win the Forbes Breeders' Juvenile Fillies' Championship, Gr.3 on her last start in mid-March at Mahalakshmi and getting the measure of Manifold (Multidimensional - Dhaawiah) close home by a short-neck. That also makes her the only filly in the fray with a win over a mile.  Soul Society, the unraced dam of Themis, had five foals abroad. One did not race, two won 15 races of little account -- mostly over jumps -- in the French provinces while two did not win. Highgrove Stud, a subsidiary of Nanoli Stud where Themis was foaled, paid just 6,000 euros for Soul Society who was in foal to Lord Shanakill, then standing at the Irish National Stud for 5,000 euros. Themis comes from the same Judy O'Grady family as Epsom Derby winner Authorized though from a different branch.  This is essentially a family of milers and as Lord Shanakill was a Group 1 winning miler who never raced beyond that distance, Themis ought to be at her best around a mile.

Running in the same colours as Themis will be the other 'got-abroad', Cerrado (Requinto - Lady Causeway), who is trained by Vishal Gaikwad. The dam Lady Causeway won once from 10 starts in Ireland and that was when she beat 15 rivals at Sligo in soft/heavy going over 2000 m. She was not on board in her remaining nine starts. Of her four foals abroad, one is a winner. Lady Causeway traces to Horama, an excellent running family which has produced two Epsom Derby winners in Teenoso and more recently Sir Percy. Cerrado is from the first crop the sire Requinto, who was a pure five furlong sprinter. Requinto has had plenty of winners abroad from his first crop and his winners to starters percentage was better than even Frankel, a fellow Freshman Sire. As for Cerrado herself, she came out of the maiden ranks on her fourth start in Mumbai and raced thrice at Udhagamandalam without winning. It is to be noted that she finished a closer second to Chief of Command in Nilgiris 2000 Guineas, Gr.2 than Windsor Forest did to the same colt in the Nilgiris Derby, Gr.1.,

The other black-type winner is Windsor Forest (Phoenix Tower - Samsa), one of the two fillies in the race trained Pesi Shroff.  On her debut, she was beaten in a photo-finish by Timeless, a smart sort who went on to be second in  Kunigal Stud Breeders' Produce Stakes, Gr.2. (to Tutankhamun) and then third in the Poonawalla Breeders' Multi-Million, Gr.1 (to Ruffina and Tutankhamun). After winning her next race in Mumbai, Windsor Forest was taken to Udhagamandalam where she won the Nilgiris 1000 Guineas, Gr.3. Last time out, she was beaten comfortably by Chief of Command in the Nilgiris Derby, Gr.1. The mares that Manjri Stud imports have much going for them and Samsa is no exception. A winner of four races in France around a mile and placed in two Listed races in that country, Samsa's real attraction would have been that her third dam is a three-parts sister to the great mare Dahlia. Two of her three foals won in France while her first foal in India was the ill-fated Continental. Being by Phoenix Tower, Windsor Forest's best trip would be around a mile. While it is hard to correlate Udhagamandalam form, her stay at that elevated, cooler place is bound to have helped her physically.

With Themis in the list of possibilities, Manifold, also trained by Shroff, has to be in contention. After all, she was just a short-neck shy of Themis the last time they raced. Manifold's dam Dhaawiah won once from three starts in the Godolphin colours and was purchased for 57,000 gns. in foal to Archipenko. Neither that foal nor the Manifold's full-brother born the following year raced. Manifold, who has been retained to race by her breeder, thus has much to do to justify her dam's purchase price. Dhaawiah is by Elusive Quality as is Khalila, another mare imported by Usha Stud who cost considerably much more. On pedigree, Manifold is more of an Oaks filly rather than a Classic winning miler for she traces to Tillywhim, an old English source of Classic stamina. A remarkably high percentage of Multidimensionals' Classic winners have Razeen in the pedigrees of their dams. There is no Razeen in the pedigree of Dhaawiah but you will find Hero's Honor, a stallion who is genetically very similar to Razeen. Manifold has been subjected to a systematic preparation, working with seasoned horses like Denny Crane and Commodore and having a mock race to the boot. Her fitness -- and this is an assumption -- could help her to overcome some of her rivals who are better suited by a mile.

Arjun Mangalorkar, who won this race last year with Common Wealth, fields Streak Ahead (Burden of Proof - Optimal). Streak Ahead is a winner of her only race back in mid-February. She is a half-sister to the usefully speedy Silver Streak who won half a dozen races, mostly at 1400 m. Silver Streak raced ten times over a mile without earning a bracket but  this filly could well do so in the right company and as she will be carrying the Mallya colours she needs consideration. The Kolkata challenger Sana is out of the Stayers' Cup, Gr.1 winner Yana and may need a much longer trip. The last Kolkata-based filly to win the race was Meadowsweet in 1971.

The average rating of the field is 38.7 and that is well below the average rating of last ten years which stands at 51.4. Had five days of racing in Bangalore not been cancelled, that rating may have been higher but still below the past average. Usually, a runner rated below the average field rating face a very stiff task. However, this has been an unusually truncated season so that axiom may not hold good. Only two fillies -- Windsor Forest and Kangra -- have won two races. Castanea, Hall of Famer's full-sister Implicit Trust and Angels Touch are maidens while all others have just one win to their credit. It may seem odd but Streak Ahead, Glittering Gold and Romantic Star are unbeaten having won their only start.

There have been some stunning recent upsets in international sport -- Epsom Derby, the women's section of the French Open tennis and quite a few in the Champions Trophy cricket -- so one has to brace for it on Sunday as well.


Forty five years ago, the then young trainer M.K. Jadhav saddled the one-eyed filly Rock Witness to win this race for the comedian Mehmood. With Rashid Byramji having retired, M.K. Jadhav becomes the second most senior trainer in the country. As far as can be ascertained, only S.S. Shah started out as a trainer before him. For over three decades, owner Mr. Vijay Shirke has supported 'M.K.' staunchly. On Sunday, M.K. Jadhav will saddle Themis for Mr. Shirke.