• Ruffina wins The Sprinters Cup (Gr.1)
  • Azzurro wins The Dr M A M Ramaswamy Stayers Cup (Gr.1)
  • Whomakestherules wins The Maj P K Mehra Memorial Super Mile Cup (Gr.1)
  • Kangra wins The Indian Turf Invitation Cup (Gr.1) in record timing

Sunil, man with gold dust 
By Sharan Kumar

Sunil Jhangiani is a man blessed with gold dust. Nothing else explains the remarkable string of wins in prestigious races in the last two years. He seems to be making right moves, be it acquiring shares in horses with other partners or picking horses to be owned entirely by him. After the heady double delight of winning the Gr 1 Sprinters Cup and Gr 1 Stayers Cup on the same day at Hyderabad during the Indian Turf Invitation Cup weekend races last year through Bryce Canyon and Bay of Angels, Sunil has not looked back. Success has chased him, culminating in the winning of the prestigious Gr 1 Kingfisher Bangalore Derby through Fantabulous King preceded by an unprecedented three-in-a-row graded race success through six-year old River God. Earlier in December, he had won the Gr 1 Indian 2000 Guineas at Mumbai through Rapidash in partnership with Captain Jamshed J Appoo. An enviable bag of 14 graded races in quick time is the stuff dreams are made of.

The affable 46-year old man enjoys his racing to the full. ``I have been fascinated by racing right from childhood. My grandfather was a Steward of racing at Karachi and as a kid, I used to frequent the Royal Western India Turf Club and sit in the children's enclosure. The racing bug had bit me and I have owned horses for quite a while now though more significantly in the last two years. It has indeed been a rewarding experience and the success has brought me immense pleasure. The victory of Rapidash in the Indian 2000 Guineas and that of Fantabulous King and the record double during the Invitation Cup weekend have been the most exhilarating moments of my owning horses,'' said Sunil with excitement in his voice soon after the victory of Fantabulous King last week in the Kingfisher Derby.

Bay of Angels (M Narredu up) winner of the Stayers Cup (Grade I) - 2003 being led in by trainer M Eshwar & owner Sunil Jhangiani

Fantabulous King (Pesi Shroff Up) winner of The Kingfisher Derby (Grade I) - 2004 being led in by Dr & Mrs. Vijay Mallya & Mr. Sunil Jhangiani

The profile of racehorse owners has changed considerably in the last few years, with people like Sunil contributing a great deal in bringing about a welcome change to its image. ``I am there for the thrill of winning'' says Sunil whose horses almost always run true to their form. There might be an odd cynic who may disagree with the statement but he is a welcome addition to the list of sporting owners who have contributed significantly in lifting the profile as well as the image of the sport by their enthusiasm and honest approach.

Luck has a decisive role to play in one's success apart from the ability to make the right moves. He was lucky to acquire a share in Fantabulous King. Originally owned by a Bangalore-based owner, Fantabulous King was bid by a host of owners after the son of Burden of Proof showed out to be something special after his spectacular win in his debut run but it was the Dr Mallya troupe which managed to swoop on the owner and buy it back for a tempting price. Sunil was quick to grab a share that extended to 50 per cent. There have been odd disappointment with Fantabulous King failing to deliver in the Gr 1 Poonawalla Breeders' Multi-Million and the Gr 1 Colts Trial Stakes but the manner in which he won the Gr 1 Kingfisher Derby justified the excited anticipation with which he was bought.

Bryce Canon (Y S Srinath up) winner of the Deccan Bookmakers Association Sprinters Cup (Grade I) - 2003 being led in by trainer M Eshwar and owner Sunil Jhangiani.

Sunil owns quite a few good horses in training. Three-year old Yutai, with Darius Byramji has proved to be very promising while Sibelius and Berlioz with Padmanabhan can turn into classic prospects. Warsaw Pact, Blue Horizon and Splash of Class are the others who can turn out into significant performers. ``I lead a hectic life running an export garment business and racing gives me opportunity to unwind and de-stress myself,'' says the man of the moment. Sunil is also a committee member of the Royal Western Indian Turf Club and also serves on the various sub-committees.