• Punjabi Girl wins The Fillies Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
By Epsom Ace
Thursday 28 Sep 2017

An early arrival of the Goddess Durga and a long stretch of public holidays has resulted in the blue riband of the Monsoon Meet – The Calcutta Monsoon Derby – being conducted in the midst of the fun and revelry associated with the city’s biggest annual festival. That in itself is like a shot in the arm for this major classic event to be run at RCTC on Sunday.

The Calcutta Monsoon Derby, to be run over 2000m on Sunday, has a total of six runners in the fray – four colts and two fillies. Despite being outnumbered in the relatively small field, the fairer sex duo comprising Sana and Daffodil are likely to corner the betting odds ahead of their male counterparts – Rufus, Cold Frontier, Hartnell and Shohin.

One of the centre’s leading trainers, Bharath Singh, has the numbers in his favour as he has under his wings Rufus, Shohin and Sana. Sana is a fashionably bred filly by Multidimensional out of Yana who is bred to stay as was proved by her full brother Mathayius when he won the Indian St Leger at Pune last Sunday. This great looking, big-hearted bay filly has never won anything above 1400m but there’s a good chance that her bloodline may give her the impetus to travel the extra 600m in the race for the blue riband of the monsoon turf. However, this cannot be taken for granted as her full-sister Zana was very comfortable over 1400m. Sana’s connections may not need to use their colt Shohin as a pacemaker as both Cold Frontier and Daffodil love to cut the wind up front. The ever reliable Dashrath Singh may settle Sana in the third slot before making his bid in the short straight.

Colts Trial Stakes winner Rufus is another with an abundance of staying blood (Lord Admiral-Youre So Beautiful).  He has a wonderful turn of foot and seems like the only colt with a realistic chance to lift this trophy given the slightest opportunity. Though he may lack the class of the pair of fillies, there’s no doubt about his enviable ‘will to win’ which is perhaps one of the most important factors in such major middle distance races.   

Daffodil  is from the Pesi Shroff yard and has been tested successfully over middle distances at Pune. This gives her an inherent advantage over her nearest adversaries as it removes any doubt about her staying ability. She is by China Visit out of Hills And Stars and has reportedly travelled well from western India to take a shy at the monsoon plum.

Rutherford Alford-trained Hartnell, who is the winner of the Grand Annual Handicap,  has also been tested successfully over the monsoon Derby distance of a mile-and –quarter. Sired by Western Aristocrat out of Mother’s Pride, Hartnell could well place in this field. Should he come out and surprise the field at the wire, it will be champagne time for the Alford family – a well-known surname that has been associated with local racing for decades now. There’s no doubt that their well-wishers will have a flutter on their ward and keep their fingers crossed.

The dark horse in the field is the sole ‘final entrant’ Cold Frontier from the south, whose connections doled out Rs 6.75 lakh to take part in this classic. This Arjun Mangalorkar ward by Admiralofthefleet out of Cool Jazz has the benefit of a mock race at this centre but may find it tough to put it across the two fillies. In such high voltage races, a lot may ultimately depend on the pace of the race and fearless horsemanship. The Monsoon Derby promises all that and more on Sunday at 3.30pm. Be there folks to witness this scintillating show of high quality thoroughbreds and accompanying saddle artistry.