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DR. M.A.M. RAMSWAMY STAYERS' CUP, Gr.1 - 2018
By Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)
Friday 02 Mar 2018
Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)

On 10 February, the traditional Queen Elizabeth II Cup, Gr.3 was run at Calcutta over 2800 m. It was the perfect lead-up for the marathon on Saturday. Winter Renaissance (Courageous Cat - Winter House) won that race and all the five runners in it are back in action. If you study the weights and result of the QEII as it is popularly referred to in Calcutta and compare them to the weights that the runners will now carry, Azzurro (Azamour - Miss Highjinks)  clearly emerges as the best of those five runners.

Azzurro, running in the URBB colours, has been a very consistent performer, being off-the-frame in just three of his 29 starts, in one of which he was caught flat-flooted when the gates opened. Three of his nine wins have come over 2400 m. though he has never won beyond that distance. He may well have done so in his last start but had too much weight to give to the winner Winter Renaissance. He has a sufficiently high rating and should turn the tables on Winter Renaissance. On dosage figures, one would never have put down Winter Renaissance as a stayer but she has run very respectably over 2400 m. and beyond. The weights, though, are against her and she has won just twice in her 16 starts. She looks more of a bridesmaid than the bride.

Winter Renaissance's stable-mate Raees (Sedgefield - Lost Perfection) was last of five in QE II.  It was his first race at Calcutta, Winter Renaissance was the fancied one and he just had an airing. He will come on for that and will be in earnest on Saturday. Like Winter Renaissance, his dosage figures are confounding. The fact is that he is a winner of the Suresh Mahindra Trophy at Pune -- the longest race in the country -- which he won by a double distance. He has, however, been running only in handicaps till he participated in the QE II and he will severely tested in the Gr.1 contest.

This is a race which favours the older horses who score 41 to 21 over the Classic generation is 62 renewals. Like Azzurro, Jack Frost (Kingda Ka - Breeze and I) is a seven year-old with a very consistent record. He is a versatile sort whose seven wins are spread over distances from 1200 m. to 2400 m. and include two graded races. He has never raced beyond 2400 m. and though he is from the same family as the Indian Derby winner Mansoor, his dam is a full-sister to Dancing Dynamite who won this race as did his grandam. He is rated 120 but will be running at an equal weight with 110 rated Azzuro and that could be handy.

The Classic generation has been rather unkind to Lord of the Sea (Dean's Kitten - Enamoured) leaving him as its sole representative in the race.  Lord of the Sea won a 2400 m. handicap on his home turf at Mahalakshmi but his performance in the Derbies at Guindy and Bangalore was nothing to be enthusiastic about, though he did finish on well at Bangalore on his last start after having been last for most of the trip. His dam won over 2200 m. at Limerick in Ireland and is a sister to some horses who have been successful over even longer. Lord of the Sea himself is inbred to Sadler's Wells and looks a staying type. Whether the Stayers' Cup was always his target or whether the connections are just taking a chance is a big question. If he has been prepared with this race in mind, he could well be the proverbial pickled rod. He is the lowest rated runner in the field. The average rating of this year's field is 103.9 which about two points above the average of recent years.

On the QE II running, this race appears to be at the mercy of Azzurro, his four rivals in that race now meeting him on worse terms. If the URBB runner is to be upstaged, Jack Frost or Lord of the Sea will have to do the job. But races are not decided on paper calculations. Richard Hannon once said, "I am never fazed by races where one horse is considered past the post. You never know what happens in a race."

 PAST THE POST

 This race carries the name of the late Dr. M.A.M. Ramaswamy. The Stayers' Cup was not an event in which he was as dominant as in some others. Still, it is pertinent to recount the winners of this race which won in his colours:-

1981  OWN OPINION (Jagdish) at Chennai
1982  MISS REGENCY (Jagdish) at Bangalore
1992  STAR CONTENDER (R. Corner) at Bangalore
1993  FLIRTING VISION (R. Corner) at Hyderabad
2005  STAR OF WINDSOR (B. Prakash) at Chennai
2006  FOREVER ELEGANCE (B. Prakash) at Bangalore