• Punjabi Girl wins The Fillies Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
MAJ. P.K. MEHRA MEMORIAL SUPER MILE, Gr.1 - 2018
By Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)
Friday 02 Mar 2018
Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)

If the older horses generally do well in the Stayers' Cup, those of the Classic generation have things pretty much their way in the Super Mile. 20 of the 33 renewals have been won by the members of Classic crop but the strike rate of favourites in this race is poorest of the four Gr.1 races over the week-end. Just a dozen public fancies have obliged.

The Classic generation is outnumbered in the race this year as it has only two representatives. Though he is not the highest rated four year-old in the field, few will disagree that Castlebridge (Burden of Proof - Castle Queen) is the one who carries the flag for the Classic generation. He began his racing career in Calcutta and it was only in his third start that he came out of the maidens. Since then, he has been beaten only twice; by Manifold in the Kingfisher Derby Bangalore, Gr.1 and Rochester in the R.R. Ruia Gold Cup, Gr.2, both races being over 2000 m. He has won all his four races over a mile -- the Jacqueline Indian 2000 Guineas, Gr.1, Bangalore Colts' Championship Stakes, Gr.1, the Calcutta Million, Gr.2 (which makes him a course and distance winner) and the Jayachamaraja Wadiyar Golf Club Mysore 2000 Guineas, Gr.3. He beat Rochester in the Indian 2000 Guineas but clearly did not stay the 2000 m. of the Ruia. It is difficult to say whether he or Ruffina will be the shorter priced runner over the week-end.

One slight concern is that Castlebridge has not had a race run since the Ruia and so will be running on Sunday after seven weeks. He has been seen on the track, though, and appears fit and well. He had a long gap between the Calcutta and Bangalore seasons and a shorter one between the Mysore and Mumbai seasons but won untroubled on re-appearance.

Mauritania (Excellent Art - Classic Sky) won the Shapoorji Pallonji Natural Gas Bangalore 2000 Guineas, Gr.2 making most of the running. Though he was beaten as the favourite on his next start by the filly Watchmyscript in Bangalore Racecourse 155th Commemoration Trophy over the same course and distance, it was a much better performance. He was giving the filly, rated 114, 3 kgs. and lost by only a length and a half so his current rating of 100 appears rather harsh. Mauritania and Castlebridge have two things in common. Both are very closely related on the dam's side. Their dams are daughters of Placerville and they have three-parts sisters Imperial Satsuma and Mystic Memory  along the tail-line. This is the Charenzacio branch of the Schiaparelli family, the top source of Classic winners in India. The other similarity concerns their running style. Both Castlebridge and Mauritania like to race in the front. It will be interesting to see who decides to show more restraint.

It is hard to spot a genuine miler with Classic form among the older horses. Watchmyscript (Whatsthescript - Yas Marina) is the one best suited for the distance, five of her six wins having come over a mile. She is very consistent, game and comes from a very good international family though her immediate generations have been a bit quiet for a while. She herself is a winner of the Guindy Gold Cup and had placed second in the Bangalore 1000 Guineas, Gr.2. 

The seven year-old  Evesham  (Tariq - Everybody Counts) has raced just once over a mile in his 34 starts and that was in the D. Khaitan Memorial  Calcutta Gold Cup, Gr.2. He was beaten by Captain Morgan but held Shivalik Showers by a short-head for the second spot. That day, he was getting 1 kg from Shivalik Showers whereas he won't have that advantage on Sunday.  Shivalik Showers is a half-brother to the Coolmore stallion Excelebration. He peaked after the Classics and won a couple of good races. He has previously raced in the Invitation Cup as a a five year-old and was third in this race last year at Bangalore. He is now seven and his best days are probably behind him.

Whomakestherules (Multidimensional - Pricewise) has been scratched from the Invitation Cup and the Stayers' Cup and takes his chances here. Somebody certainly appears to be unsure of what the horse's best distance is to have nominated him for the mile as well Stayers' Cup. The connections, though, have made the right choice because Whomakestherules is a course and distance winner having won the Calcutta 2000 Guineas, Gr.2 last year beating Accolade who started a very short-priced favourite in URBB colours. He broke down after that and since he has returned to action all his six starts have been at 2000 m. or more including in two St. Legers ! Perhaps, he has been waiting to take on a URBB favourite !

That only leaves New England (Arazan - Autmnal). With three of his five wins coming over 1600 m., he certainly qualifies as a miler. He has only recently graduated to black-type company and run fourth to Temerity, B Fifty Two and Aster Rose in the A.C. Ardeshir Trophy, Gr.3 and third to  Your Royal Majesty and Costa del Sol -- but ahead of B Fifty Two -- in the R.N. Kanga Gold Trophy, Gr.3. He is a stable-mate of B Fifty Two who downed Temerity and that gives him some chance.

PAST THE POST

The first Invitation Cup week-end with a full complement of four Gr.1 races was held at Hyderabad in 1983. In the years since then, the Super Mile Cup was not run on two occasions making it a total of 138 Gr.1 races. A staggering number of 117 races have been won by horses trained at either Mumbai or Bangalore with the other centres contributing just 21 between them.

Though this is a good race for the Classic crop and a bad race for the favourites, Calcutta has bucked that trend. The Super Mile has been contested just four times in Calcutta and it has been won thrice by older horses and twice by the public fancies.

Since Ruffina is not entered for the Super Mile, a Sprinters' Cup-Super Mile double is unlikely. The last one came 16 years ago when Strengthtostrength won both the races in Bangalore. A tenner doubled on the Tote on Maj. B.P. Singh's horse would have fetched Rs. 1,900. A successful double this year will yield an even higher dividend.