• Punjabi Girl wins The Fillies Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
  • Sir Cecil wins The Colts Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
By Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)
Monday 10 Jul 2017
Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)

Jacqueline (King Charlemagne - Talita Kumi) holds a unique distinction of having won the first four Indian Classics. Owned by Mr. & Mrs.  Vijay B. Shirke, Mr. & Mrs. K.N. Dunjibhoy and Mr.  Berjis Minoo Desai, the Sohna Stud-bred filly achieved that feat in 2009-10. After winning the Indian Derby, she was a hot favourite for the Indian Turf Invitation Cup despite the fact that it was fairly well known that she was having a bit of a leg. The leg did play up and she was beaten narrowly by her former stud-mate Becket. She was immediately packed off to stud and covered by Glory of Dancer.

Jacqueline was certainly a very good filly. As Richard Hughes dismounted her after she had won the Giantii-Gitanjali Indian 1000 Guineas, Gr.1, he was telling everyone within the earshot that she would beat the colts the following Sunday. She certainly lived up to the jockey's prophecy as she won the Sobo Central Indian 2000 Guineas, Gr.1. The HDIL Indian Oaks, Gr.1 was picked up easily and then she added the McDowell Indian Derby, Gr.1, repelling the southern challenger Becket by three-parts of a length in record time. Her trainer Pesi Shroff had done splendidly to keep her fit to win four Gr.1 Classics within a period of six weeks. The exertions, however, had their effect and the filly began to feel her leg just before the Invitation. It wasn't too severe a problem and there was a good chance that she could, just about, last one more race. It was felt that the game filly had done enough to deserve one last chance. So she ran in the Invitation and was narrowly beaten. The man who felt that loss the most was her jockey Richard Hughes for he a had very high regard for her ability and much affection. Mrs. Hughes had just had their second child and she had been named Jacqueline.

The owners of Jacqueline felt that their talented filly needed to be given special treatment and it was decided to send her to Ireland. In-foal to Glory of Dancer, she was accompanied by Aurora Aurealis -- owned by M/s. K.N. Dhunjibhoy and Berjis Minoo Desai -- who had also been covered by the same stallion. The two fillies reached Ireland via U.S.A. as required by the quarantine protocols and duly dropped their foals in the Emerald Isle, both of them colts. Jacqueline's colt was named Primogeniture while Tithonus was the name given to Aurora Aurealis colt. Both started their racing careers with trainer John Oxx with Primogeniture winning a race at Fairyhouse. Both were sold as four year-olds, Primogeniture failing to add to his first win and Tithonus racing just twice. Primogeniture subsequently won two races, one for trainer David O'Meara and one for trainer Mary Hambro.

After foaling Primogeniture, Jacqueline visited the great Galileo at Coolmore. to beget Lord Napier. That colt, owned by his Indian breeders and the Ballydoyle bigwigs Magnier and Tabor, was trained by John Gosden at Clarehaven Stables in Newmarket. Lord Napier, who was sold just before he turned four, placed thrice from eight starts without troubling the judge. Zenon is Lord Napier's  full-brother and is also at Clarehaven. He was the favourite to win on his debut as a two year-old at Sandown over a mile but ran green and finished fourth, less than a length off the winner. He came out as a three year-old at Newmarket and finished second to Holdsway with whom he fought over the last furlong till the winner outpaced him. Zenon found his winning opportunity when sent to Chepstow in Wales and upped in distance to a mile and half. Ridden confidently by Kieran Shoemark, he waited behind the early leader Dark Pearl, challenged him a furlong out and strode away to win by three lengths as a firm favourite. Just last week Zenon, now going over two furlongs more, was last of ten runners with three furlongs to go. He responded readily to the call of his jockey Robert Tart, passed horse after horse, was second with a furlong to go, collared the leader Dominating and was beginning to draw away passing the winning post. Zenon, who obviously stays well, is now rated 87 and John Gosden could well find a suitable handicap for him to complete a hat-trick.

Before Zenon made his racing debut, Jacqueline had returned to India and dropped a filly to her covering by Galileo's son Australia. She has late colt by Kingda Ka in 2017 and is currently empty.

There is not much of Indian interest from the breeding angle about racing in England /Ireland. The first week of this year's July, however, was quite remarkable. On the first day of the month, the Indian-bred Desert God ran fourth in a handicap at Windsor. The next day at Curragh, Tithonus (Glory of Dancer - Aurora Aurealis) beat 18 rivals in the Tote Rockingham Handicap over five furlongs to win his seventh career race and pocket almost 60,000 euros. He was ridden by Rory Cleary who has ridden in India and he was trained by D.G. Hogan who has excelled in training Dr. Cyrus Poonawalla's smart sprinter Gordon Lord Byron. Then, on the 8 July, came Zenon's Haydock victory.

Running Flame, the dam of Desert God, was a high class race mare who often crossed swords with Saddle Up in India. She was then sent to race on the West Coast in U.S.A., covered by Silver Hawk and moved to England. She spent a longer time at stud in England/Ireland than Jacqueline and though her produce did not do much abroad, she has had three Classic winners in India since her return. The gulf between racing and breeding in India and abroad is very wide. The owners of Running Flame and Jacqueline obviously know that. For them to still send their mares abroad at considerable expense shows their spirit of adventure. That alone needs to be applauded.


On Sunday, Zenon will be running in the Kingfisher Derby Bangalore, Gr.1. If it was Gosden's Zenon, he would probably win the race. The Zenon (Champs Elysees - Questa Nova) running at Bangalore is trained by Pesi Shroff and at the moment he has plenty of ground to make up on his namesake. Both the Zenons, of course, run in the colours of Mr. Vijay Shirke.

Is Zenon a suitable name for a colt ? Though a “masculine sounding” name, Zenon is the young teen heroine of the Walt Disney movie "Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century".

Watch Zenon[UK] by Galileo x Jacqueline winning the 2800 m at Haydock [UK] Click here....