• Lady In Lace wins The Golconda 1000 Guineas (Gr.2)
  • Sana wins The Calcutta 1000 Guineas (Gr.3)
BANGALORE COLTS' CHAMPIONSHIP STAKES, Gr.1
By Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)
Friday 23 Jun 2017
Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)

Disruption to racing so far has affected the Bangalore Colts' Trial Stakes, Gr.1 as much as it did the fillies' race last Sunday. Only four of the fillies had had a race during the current season. As far as the colts are concerned, only three of the 15  have had a proper race which means that their current condition and readiness for the big race has to be assumed.

However, we do have the top colt from every centre and that should make for a good contest. The highest rated colt in the field is Chief of Command (Arazan- Flaming Glory). He is unbeaten in six starts at Chennai and Udhagamandalam which include the Nilgiris Derby, Gr.1 and Nilgiris 2000 Guineas, Gr.2. The only Gr.1 winner in the field, he beat Windsor Forest by a length and a quarter on his last start. Windsor Forest was the most unfortunate runner in the Bangalore Fillies' Trial Stakes, Gr.1 last Sunday. Had it not been for problems in running, Windsor Forest would have finished very close to her stablemate and winner Manifold. Manifold is now rated at 68 and so Chief of Command's mark of 70 is fully justified. He is very much a live contender.

The best of the local colts is Apache Sunrise (Excellent Art - Guest Connections). Neil Darashah's ward is unbeaten in three starts which includes a course and distance victory. Yet to run in a black-type race, the combined winning margin of his three wins is a little over 16 lengths and that alone commands respect even if one may question the caliber of rivals he has vanquished so far. His dam Guest Connections won the Deutsche Bank Indian 1000 Guineas, Gr.1 and is out of a full-sister to Mystic Memory. The Schiaparelli family is the No. 1 source in India for Classic winners.

There is another Excellent Art in the contest and that is Perfect Star who is out of the Kingfisher Indian 1000 Guineas, Gr.1 victress Free Radical. He will run in the same colours as Chief of Command but is trained by Karthik Ganapathy. A winner of a race over a mile at Mahalakshmi, he was fourth in Poonawalla Breeders' Multi-Million, Gr.1, five and a half lengths behind the second placed Tutankhamun. Excellent Art has had a rollicking start to his stud career in India and he holds a strong hand here as another son of his -- Moondancer  -- is also contesting.

Like Apache Sunrise, Tutankhamun (Phoenix Tower - Dancerllon) is Bangalore-based, sheltered as he is in Satish Narredu's yard. After scoring on his debut as a two year-old -- where he beat Kumbaku and Lycurgus, both of whom have raced against Apache Sunrise -- Tutankhamun went to Mahalakshmi. There, he first won the Kunigal Stud Breeders' Produce Stakes, Gr.3 and took his place in the 16-runner field for the Poonawalla Breeders' Multi-Million, Gr.1. He ran a fine race and was beaten only by the all-conquering filly Ruffina. He was certainly the best performed colt at Mumbai. His sire Phoenix Tower is perfectly capable of getting a winner of a mile Classic. His Argentinian dam Dancerllon won three races in the country of her birth including Premio Ramon Biaus, Gr.2 at Palermo on dirt over 2200 m. She then moved to Dubai from where Manjri Stud picked her up. A regular breeder in India, six of her foals including Tutankhamun are winners. Tutankhamun's full-brother Decathlon won two juvenile black-type races at Hyderabad. Dancerllon's produce has won 18 races in India with only Bubbly Bellini winning once beyond 1400 m. Satish Narredu had a promising start to his career as trainer sending out Classic winners like Lindsay, Super Speed and following up with Sprint Star and Super Storm. He has not been much in the limelight of late but in Tutankhamun he has a horse to look forward to.

Kolkata horses journey south to Bangalore to escape the muggy heat. Generally, summering in a pleasant climate has been the aim of the exercise. The last Kolkata colt to win this race was Bold Gesture who also went on to win the Kingfisher Derby Bangalore, Gr.1 in 1995. He was trained by Bharath Singh who has come to Bangalore this year with Castlebridge (Burden of Proof - Castle Queen). Fourth and then third on his first two starts -- where the filly Sana finished ahead of him -- he was a different horse in his next two, winning the Indian Champagne Stakes, Gr.3 by eight and a quarter lengths and the Calcutta Million, Gr.2 (over a mile) by six and a quarter lengths with Sana finishing second in both the races. Castlebridge runs in Dr. Mallya's colours and you can be sure that he will not be out for a summer stroll on Sunday. His full-brother Castle Key is a winner of five races, all of them at 1200 m.  Their dam Castle Queen is very closely related to Guest Connections, the dam of Apache Sunrise. Burden of Proof has done well with daughters of Mr. Prospector line stallions and as Castle Queen is by Mr. Prospector's son Placerville, Castlebridge carries a successful cross.

From Hyderabad we have Moondancer (Excellent Art - Pleasure Hunt), a winner of two of his three starts including the Alcock Arabian Million, Gr.3. The Hyderabad juvenile black-type races have rarely showcased a future star but Moondancer is obviously one of the better three year-olds to have raced in Hyderabad last winter. He was ridden by P. Trevor on his last start so the jockey will have first hand information about his merits His dam is a daughter of Razeen who won the Nanoli Stud Indian Oaks, Gr.1. Pleasure Hunt's first two foals -- Our Excelencee and Classerville -- were by Placerville and they both earned the small black-type. The next three foals were by Ace and of them only Alectar is a winner of a solitary race.

A rare runner from Delhi in this race is Big Orange (Dancing Forever - Circus Star), a winner of five of six races. He hasn't had a run during the current term and will be jumping into the deep end, no matter what his record in the capital.

Apart from Castlebridge, Capo de Capi (Serious Spender - Caprese) will also be carrying the Mallya silks and Trevor's choice of the second named colt is perhaps indicative of the present condition and progress made by the two runners. Capo de Capi, who is trained by Irfan Ghatala, won the Bangalore Juvenile Million, Gr.3 on his only start so far easily beating Excellent Art's daughter Lady Barrington and Angel Dust's full-brother Angel Power. What a useful broodmare Caprese is proving to be !  Her first foal Capote by Diffident won five races; the second, by Tejano was Beauty Is Truth who placed second in the Bangalore Fillies' Championship Stakes, Gr.1 but hasn't won so far in 30-odd starts; and then, we had Admiralofthefleet full-brothers Admiralty (Karnataka Juvenile Million, Gr.2) and Captain Morgan (Dr. M.A.M. Ramaswamy Chettiar of Chettinad Memorial Stayers' Cup, Gr.1).  Admiralofthefleet was having problems in the breeding shed during the covering season of 2013 so Serious Spender was requisitioned. A Classic win for Capo de Capi on just his second start will make Serious Spender a super-sub if one goes by Trevor's judgement.

There are two 'got-abroads' in the field and one of them is Sea King (Born To Sea - Star of Soho) hailing from Arjun Mangalorkar's  yard. The colt's sire is an Invincible Spirit half-brother to Galileo and Sea The Stars, both Epsom Derby winners themselves as well as sires of Epsom Derby winners. His unplaced dam is a half-sister seven winners abroad and to Exquisite, the dam of Smashing (Zoom Indian Oaks, Gr.1). Star of Soho was acquired by Sans Craintes Stud for 22,000 euros at Goffs November Sale in 2013. A winner of one race from three starts, Sea King's turn will come but this set is a bit too strong. The other 'got-abroad'  is Shroff-trained Zenon (Champs Elysees - Questa Nova) who runs in the colours of the Shirkes. There is another Zenon (Galileo - Jacqueline), also a three year-old, who won recently for Mr. Shirke and partners at Chepstow in Wales and is trained by John Gosden. The Zenon who will run on Sunday won over a mile at Mahalakshmi on his third and last start in mid-February. In that race, he got the better of Pure Zinc who later went on to bag the Shapoorji Pallonji Breeders' Juvenile Championship, Gr.3. Champs Elysees, a full-brother to the successful sire Dansili, was a 12f horse and the average winning distance of his progeny is 11.7f.  His fillies have won more black-type races -- including Heather who won the Golconda Oaks, Gr.2 -- but his best  horse, Trip To Paris (Ascot Gold Cup, Gr.1), is a colt. The dam Questa Nova, by staying influence Rainbow Quest, did not win but has produced four winners abroad. Highgrove Stud bought Questa Nova for just 9,500 gns. and that nursery's record with bargain buys is outstanding. It helps that most of them have been trained by Shroff. Zenon will need a longer distance, more time and, perhaps, a less exalted company.

Excellent Art may have caught the eye as a promising Freshman Sire but Western Aristocrat is no slouch, either. His two representatives here  -- Hartnell (out of Mother's Pride) and Olympia Fields (out of the Eveready Calcutta Derby, Gr.1 winner Abs Fabs) -- are both winners during the current season. Hartnell, like Apache Sunrise, is a course and distance winner. Botswana Bolt (Multidimensional - Bostwana) runs in the colours of Sri Lankan owners, the Edwards. They have invested heavily in Indian racing, getting only modest returns so far. The dam Botswana, by Invincible Spirit, was touched off in the closing stages of the Radio Mirchi Indian 1000 Guineas, Gr.1 by Alma Mater. Botswana's first foal, Masterofbalantrae, has won both his races so far. Botswana Bolt is the second. This is an Aga Khan family tracing to Lindos Ojos whose first important winner was Priorate, the winner of the Eclipse Stakes of India way back in 1949. Usha Stud's new stallion Speaking of Which is a son of Invincible Spirit who will be covering a lot of Multidimensional mares. Masterofbalantrae and Botswana Bolt represent the reverse cross. Hartnell, Olympia Fields and Botswana Bolt are quite capable of springing a surprise.

Fifteen runners will be going to the post on Sunday. The same number contested the race when Pronto Pronto and Machiavellian won and it has been exceeded only twice; that was when Patron won in 1967 (18 runners) and 17 in Young Turk's year. Despite the presence of top colts, the average field rating is only 48.5, well below the average of last ten years which stands at 55.27.

PAST THE POST

The very first running of this race in 1959 saw Baba Khan's Mohsin the Second triumph over Pride of Andhra and Coral Bay in a pulsating finish, just a length covering the first three home. The winner was ridden by Raghunath. Three years earlier, Baba Khan, then Kashmir's trainer in Mumbai, had bred and owned a colt who was so backward that he was neither entered for the Sale nor entered for any Classics. He was retained and named Mohsin and he improved by leaps and bounds once he was put into training.  Kashmir bought him knowing fully well that he was not eligible for the Classics and changed his name to Hit or Miss. He was the best juvenile in Western India. In what would have been his Classic year, Hit or Miss won the Sir H.M. Mehta Gold Cup, a lead-up to the Indian Derby beating Gwalior's Mukhtar-ul-Mulk, Balchand and Kimsel. Balchand won the Indian Derby, Mukhtar-ul-Mulk was third while Kimsel beat Balchand in the Indian St. Leger.

Despite being the best horse of his year, Hit or Miss did not win a Classic. Mohsin the Second, like Hit or Miss a Kunigal-bred, was nowhere near the best of his vintage, but became a Classic winner. That is the charm of racing !