It is difficult to say whether the Monsoon Classics at Mysore or their counterparts at Hyderabad have had a greater impact on the winter Classics. The Mysore 2000 Guineas has, however, provided the opportunity to two all-time greats Elusive Pimpernel and Continual to win their first Classic and announce their coming. Neither was beaten in a Classic in remainder of their careers.
A victory in this Friday's renewal sponsored by Fernhills Palace will also be the first Classic victory for one of the 46 horses which includes two final entries still left-in. Unlike Elusive Pimpernel and Continual, who were unbeaten going into the race, none of the 46 have a clean slate.
The two final entries are Severstahl (Diffident - Suave Star) and Amaretto (Major Impact - Romantic Heights). There was some talk of Toroloco also being supplemented but the connections have obviously had a rethink. What one can be certain about final entries is that they will be fully on their mettle. Afterall, no one forks out a hefty final entry fee just to give an airing to the horse. That in itself is no guarantee of a win as Severstahl supplemented into the Kingfisher Derby Bangalore -- himself has found.
Strictly on form, Severstahl stands out. Third in the Colts' Championship Stakes, he moved a step closer to Pronto Pronto in the Kingfisher Derby Bangalore. He was beaten only a neck and had his jockey not lost his whip, who knows what the result may have been. The only question mark against him is that he has not had a proper race for over two months. While he has been sighted regularly on the track, no amount of morning work equates to racing under silks. His dam is a half-sister to two Classic winners in India -- Moment of Glory and Beautiful Babe as well as Wide Country, a Gr.2 winner in U.S,A.
Amaretto's last run was in the F.D. Wadia Trophy at Pune where he finished fifth, two lengths behind the winner Picasso. The form of that race hasn't quite worked out with Picasso himself as well as Secret Service, Our Chieftain and Lake Paradise all ahead of Amaretto failing to win on their next starts. On ratings, he is well adrift of Severstahl. The only likely black-type winner in the field, his trainer Cooji Katrak is not an avid 'traveller' and for him to bring Amaretto all the way to Mysore is unusual to say the least and that itself is a significant pointer. He should have no problem in getting the mile for his grandam is a winner of the Indian St. Leger as well as being a half-sister to an Invitation Cup winner. Amaretto also needs to erase the Boldenone slur against his name.
The highest rated horse in the field -- in fact, the highest rated 3YO in India is Bold Police (Brave Act - Traffic Police). That rating has been achieved running in only in Mysore and without participating in a black-type race. Another probable starter Iron Marshall (Placerville - Rivage) is also very highly rated, based exclusively on Mysore form. The authenticity of that form and the rating came into question when Iron Marshall finished only fifth of six runners in the Khushro K. Jalnawalla Mysore Million, Gr.3. Migrolino, rated 50, 30 points below Iron Marshall, finished more than four lengths ahead. It may well have been an off day for trainer M. Eshwer's ward but with the Mysore form under a scanner it is difficult to be very optimistic of their winning chances. Both Bold Police and Iron Marshall have pedigrees which are worthy of a Classic winner though it has to be said that the greatest virtue of South India Oaks winner Traffic Police as a broodmare thus far has been that she has produced eight consecutive foals without a break.
Casanova (Burden of Proof - Cesandri, and thus a full-brother to the pretty useful Captivating) and Field Marshall (Placerville out of Razeen's Sprinters' Cup winning daughter Shamaal) are rated level and both are last start winners, the latter registering a course and distance victory. Significantly, Field Marshall started at long odds in his first five starts but was a short-priced favourite when breaking his duck. Market, as they say, will be a good guide to his chance. Also in the mix of likely starters is a pair of Midtowns trained by Jaggy Dhariwal. I Specialist and Midtown Magic are very consistent and the former has the excuse of a slipped saddle on his last start but for which he may have finished closer and earned a higher rating rather than being level with his stablemate. They will run their honest races but if either was to hoist a winning flag, they would be bridging a 31 point rating gap with Severstahl.
A Classic in South India without a Dr. Ramaswamy runner in unthinkable. The gold and brown runner on Friday could be Forest Regent who came a cropper in Super Duper's D.B.A. Hyderabad Colts' Trial Stakes, Gr.3. It will be his first start since that mishap. A Placerville half-brother to Deccan Derby winner Star Presentation, Forest Regent had a win the second of his career over a mile. Like all other Bangalore-based runners, he is well below Severstahl in the table.
Southern Bay arrested the trend of losing favourites in this year's 3YO Classics. Does that signify that the tide has changed and is now coming in?