• Punjabi Girl wins The Fillies Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
  • Sir Cecil wins The Colts Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
By Epsom Ace
Sunday 04 Mar 2018
Mr Marthand Singh Mahindra, Mrs Rina Mahindra & trainer SS Attaollahi leading Kangra (A Sandesh Up), winner of The Indian Turf Invitation Cup (Gr.1)

The 56th edition of the Invitation Cup run on Sunday at RCTC sprung quite a surprise as SS Attaollahi-trained Kangra with A Sandesh in the saddle, made all the running and bagged the season’s blue riband, but not before staving off a strong challenge from five-year-old Temerity. The two fancied runners who hogged most of the betting money –Lady In Lace and Rochester – were in the rear of the field biding their time for most of the race. It would seem in retrospect that their riders Suraj Narredu and CS Jodha had both misjudged the pace of the race and paid the penalty as they finished the race a poor fourth and fifth respectively. After the turning for home, both Kangra and Temerity were over ten lengths ahead of Lady In Lace. The Calcutta straight is rather short and only an exceptional horse with far superior stamina and strength could have narrowed the deficit, let alone win the race. Kangra is the prized property of Rina and Marthand Singh Mahindra, had a month earlier won the Bangalore winter Derby. It was to the trainer’s credit that the filly by Western Aristocrat out of Georgina (bred at Nanoli Stud farm) could pocket another gruelling classic within such a short space of time. Kangra stopped the clock in a record time of 2min 27.54sec. Kangra is bred at the Nanoli Stud which received the award for the “Champion Stud”.

Trainer Attaolahi said that as Sandesh had ridden her before on several occasions, he did not need to give him any instructions for the race. Sandesh knew exactly what to do and he delivered. Sandesh felt that the filly was losing pace in the last furlong of the Bangalore straight during the running of the Derby, but here she was travelling at full throttle till the end of the race. Mr Mahindra for his part mentioned that it has been a long climb to the top and thanked a host of his close associates for the brilliant match-winning performance of Kangra.

It was a wonderful race, marred by a mishap near the 600m marker. Eight-year-old Alaindair fractured his cannon bone near the 600m marker and needs to be in a cast for some time. What is really sad is that he was a champion in his own time and this was to be his last race before retirement. Coming in the wake of Azzurro’s injury on Saturday, it left the clerk-of-the-course rather despondent and a pall of gloom descended on the stands after the race. Animal lovers in the crowd were praying that the old warhorse is not put down and their prayers were answered.

A race earlier, in the   Major PK Mehra Memorial Super Mile Cup, Bharath Singh’s Castlebridge was backed to the exclusion of all others and he closed as the on-money favourite.  The others in the field of seven were at 5/1 and over, with Mallesh Narredu-trained Whomakestherules available at 10/1 before being backed down to 7/1.  As he is wont to do, Castlebridge came out of the gates first and made his own running at a scorching pace, followed by Shivalik Showers and Mauritania. Whomakestherules and Suraj Narredu were in the rear of the field for most part. They moved up near the 600m marker and took the turn five horses wide. Thereafter, Whomakestherules gathered momentum and was able to collar the front-runner with less than a furlong to go. He pulled away majestically in the final 100 metres. Whomakestherules also went into the record books with a timing of 1min 34.8sec

The fast track with a penetrometer reading of 1.1 was partly responsible for records falling like ninepins during the weekend. Satish Narredu-trained Tutankhamun also went into the record books when he won the Suresh Mahindra Multi-Million Trophy run over seven furlongs. Sitting on the haunches of pace-setting Your Royal Majesty, Tutankhamun (Phoenix Tower-Dancerella/ Manjri Stud) pulled away in the straight for a comfortable victory. It was the second of Suraj Narredu’s three winners of the day. 

The afternoon commenced with two divisions of the Original Vel Platinum Jubilee Trophy. The upper division was bagged by Manvendra Singh-trained Pierce Arrow with Srinath in the saddle. Despite shouldering 62kg, the mare by Rebuttal out of Daughter of Light (Hazara Stud) got the measure of the favourite Multiple quite easily. In the lower division, Vijay Singh trained Victoriana (Burden Of Proof-Bobcat Greeley/ Kunigal Stud) justified favouritism with a comfortable triumph in the hands of Suraj Narredu.

Shafiq Khan-trained Respect (Multidimensional-Reflected Glory/ Usha Stud) won the Hydroplane Cup in taking style in the hands of Trevor Patel. Gracing the wrong end of the field for most part, Trevor turned on the heat in the home straight and the five-year responded with a splendid gallop. His last poor effort had resulted in the suspension of Mohit Singh.   

The Calcutta Cup, run over seven furlongs, saw Javed Khan-trained Gloaming (Ravel-Flair Queen) win without too much fuss in the hands of Neeraj Rawal. Lying a handy second to the pace-setter Arakawah, Gloaming went ahead under the stick to win comfortably. Trainer Patrick Quinn pulled off  the gamble of the weekend with Alisha’s Pet in the race for the Hazara Stud Cup. The six-year-old mare by Ace out of Entendu ran like a champion without any threat whatsoever from her fancied rivals like Occitan, Noverro, Interstellar and Taygetus.

The curtain to a wonderful weekend of racing came down with the Rutherford-trained public choice Home Of The Brave (Saamidd-Roof Fiddle) bagging the Arion Horse Trophy without much ado from a hard-ridden Lumenac. The win completed a hat-trick for Sandesh who got a chance ride after Srinath was declared unfit to ride due to his fall from Alaindair.