Like the fillies' version, Hyderabad Colts' Championship (Group 3) began as a 'Trial' in 1974 when it was won by the Tyrrell-trained Zinosca colt Star of Stars. Since 1985, the satchelmen of Hyderabad have sponsored the race and just as in the case of fillies, the local colts have found it hard to ward off the outstation challengers in the last 30 years. Admittedly, the colts have two 'home' victories more to their credit than the fillies but that doesn't dramatically dent the overall superiority of the raiders.
Also, like the fillies' race, the colts' race has showcased several future stars with as many as 14 winners going on to win Derbys later. The brilliant Chaitanya Chakram was already a star when he arrived in 1986 for the race and he was to go on and win the Indian Derby as well as the Indian Turf Invitation Cup later. Nelston, another subsequent Indian Derby winner, however, first came to limelight when he won this race. So did Delage who was later to annexe the Indian Turf Invitation Cup at Guindy. Incidentally, the first time Malakpet saw Chaitanya Chakram was when he ran in this race. With the passage time, Chakram is generally thought of as a local Hyderabad horse which is not the case. Chaitanya Chakram started his racing career in Chennai and his trainer Jaggy Dhariwal shifted his base to Hyderabad the following year.
With the fillies' event having been captured by a 'raider' last Sunday, it would perhaps be appropriate to start this preview by looking at the outstation challengers. The one who stands out head and shoulders above all others is Picasso (Black Cash - Allies Serenade). After an easy, educational debut run, the chestnut has registered four wins on the trot with the last three being Graded races. His effortless beating of Maddox and Snow Blaze - both very good winners in Pune recently - in the Kunigal Stud Breeders' Produce Stakes (Group 3) has been followed by lifting the Poonawalla Breeders' Multi-Million (Group 1) and the F.D. Wadia Trophy (Group 2), both by narrow margins. That record gives him the highest rating of all likely contenders.
Flushed with a Practicallyperfect last Sunday, Jaggy Dhariwal will be back again, this time with Arabian Gold (Tejano - Sabre Dance) and Veyron (Epicentre - Bluegrass Gal). Both have won a race apiece. Arabian Prince is a half-brother to Fleeting Arrow and the steadily improving Hatsuhaana, while the later is a half-brother to five average winners, all by Young Senor. On ratings, they have a mountain to climb. Tejanos, however, have really excelled at Malakpet, Veyron will appreciate the mile trip as compared to the sprint over which he won last time under colours and the veteran trainer has a knack of producing a rabbit from nowhere. Forest Regent (Placerville - Saffron Dancer) won his last start over a mile by almost 5 lengths. Like his half-brother Star Presentation, a winner of the Deccan Derby, Group 1, he is trained by S. Ganapathy and runs in Dr. M.A.M. Ramswamy's colours. Mysore-based Shaka Zulu (Alnasr Alwasheek - Bay of Angels) won his first two races and then ventured to Bangalore where he was about 5 lengths adrift of the winner In The Spotlight in graded Summer Million. Like Forever Glory last Sunday, he is out of a Stayers' Cup winner and bred to excel over longer distances than a mile. S.S. Attaolahi's ward Waikato (Imtiyaz - Aglow) - one win over 1400 m. from eight starts - is likely to add to the number of raiding party if not its firepower.
The best of the home team is undoubtedly the grey Super Duper (Keltos - Supercal), trained by L.V.R. Deshmukh. While he was disappointing in Bangalore, he is unbeaten in three starts on his home patch. His low DI notwithstanding, Super Duper appears more of a miler than a stayer. After all, his sire was a Champion Older Miler in Europe while his dam was a listed winner over 1,400 m. in Ireland. Almost on par with Super Duper on ratings is Vijays Conquer (Placerville - Queen to Conquer) who also has three wins to his credit, one of them coming in Bangalore. As a full-brother to Priceless, Star Admiral and Bid For Gold, Vijays Conquer certainly has the pedigree for the job. Cristiano (Don Micheletto - Fleet Footed) is also a winner of three races and carries the colours of Dr. Vijay Mallya. Like Shaka Zulu, he is bred for longer distances but a point to note is that his trainer S.A. Shehzad Abbas has saddled Don Micheletto's only Classic winners - Man of the Match and Sparks. Golden Rule (Placerville - Orient Dance) won on debut as a two year-old but is without a win in seven starts since. His dam won five races including the Kingfisher Mysore 1000 Guineas, Group 2 and seven of her other foals - five by Placerville - are winners none, however, managing to earn the black-type.
With 10 wins, Dr. M.A.M. Ramswamy tops the table of winning owners and he is represented by Forest Regent. Everyday II and Placerville are tied in the sires' tally with four wins each and the latter has the chance to move ahead through Forest Regent, Vijays Conquer or Golden Rule. There is three-way tie for the stud honours with the Poonawallas, Dashmesh-Hargobind and Doaba-Galloping having six winners each. With the Placerville trio and Shaka Zulu in the fray - and the other two studs without a runner - the Poonawallas have a good chance of edging ahead. Whatever the result of the race, trainer R.R. Byramji and jockey Vasant Shinde, both with half a dozen winners each, are unreachable at the top of their respective tables.
Cristiano and Forest Regent have both scored over a mile from among those previewed but the former is the only course and distance winner. Picasso, Forest Regent, Veyron (by 9 lengths), Keltos, Cristiano and Vijays Conquer have all won on their last outing. Only Picasso has won a Graded race while of the others Shaka Zulu has placed in one.
The horse to beat, obviously, is Picasso. His Gainsborough Farm-bred, unraced grandam Rahy's Serenade is probably, on the basis of her produce record, the best mare imported to India in the last few years. Her first six foals - Allies Serenade (the dam of Picasso), Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Sprituall, Highland Crown and Onassis - have raced, they are all by different stallions and all them have earned the black-type and achieved a 100+ rating. Picasso is a half-brother to Bruckner (by Ikhtyar), a winner of the Eveready Calcutta Derby, Group 1. On paper, these are impeccable connections. Pesi Shroff, who trains Picasso, has also sent out his close relatives Diego Rivera, Onassis and Bruckner and so knows the family well. He has ridden two winners of this race and is looking for his first as a saddler.