Two races in India which are linked to specific dates on the calendar are the Bangalore Derby on 26th of January and the Deccan Derby on 2nd of October. However, before discussing coming Sunday's showpiece, a detour to Chinaswamy Stadium is necessary.
On Monday, Trinidad & Tobago won the toss and decided to bat first in the Champions Trophy match against the Mumbai Indians at Bangalore. Kepler Wessels was puzzled by the decision because as he explained, statistics of the previous matches played at that venue showed that the side chasing had a distinct advantage. Well, despite scoring only 98 runs, T & T were winning the game for 119 balls of the second innings in an apparent bucking of the trend but lost the match on the last ball. Cricket's equivalent of a short-head! That is not to say that teams batting second in a T20 match at the Chinnaswamy stadium will always win. They won't because history is as often created as it is repeated. What it does bring home that historical trends need to be considered and rationally -- not arbitrarily -- rejected if need be.
Trends are a series of historical facts and they bring to mind Disraeli's famous words -- "There are three kinds of lies. Lies, damned lies and statistics". Disreali probably had in mind statistics which people quote off the top of their heads, without checking records. So let's have a look at recent Deccan Derby trends and get them correct. In the last ten years, "raiders" have had the upper hand, winning six times against the four wins registered by the "home" team. Favourites have had a rough time with only three public choices winning. Eight horses carrying the famous brown-and-gold colours have started as the favourite but only two have won. The same colours were first past the post five times; two favourites and three lesser fancied ones. Elite Zone is the only Deccan Bookmakers Colts' Trial Stakes winner to go on and win the Deccan Derby while no filly has the Fillies' Trial-Derby double to her credit in the last ten years. And, you can be certain that no filly will do it this year since Practicallyperfect was not entered for the Deccan Derby.
In all probability, the facile Deccan Bookmakers Colts' Championship Stakes, Gr.3 winner Super Duper (Keltos - Supercal) will start the favourite in the race where the home team has a numerical advantage. The grey colt, unbeaten on the Malakpet track, will surely have many supporters on Sunday. He has never ventured beyond a mile and could be vulnerable to horses with pedigrees better suited to getting the 2000 m. trip. He does have a low Dosage Index but there are very few 'chefs de race' in his pedigree and DIs which are based on a low point tally are suspect. By a miler out of a 1400 m. winner, he would be running beyond his ken and thus bringing into consideration the intriguing dilemma of class against stamina.
The recent hat-trick of Swiss Don (Don Micheletto - Swiss Maid), which culminated in a course and distance victory over Castle Town, brings Shehzad Abbas's runner into contention. The trainer has already won the Deccan Derby with two Nakul Stud bred horses -- Sparks (by Don Micheletto) and Man of the Match (by Meritocrat) -- and Swiss Don has a much superior dam line, tracing as he does to Mumtaz Mahal. On pedigree and the ability to get 2000 m., Swiss Don has nothing fear. The question is does he have the class? He comes out level with Castle Town (Midtown - Canaletto), a genuine and consistent runner like most of his sire's produce. Castle Town is good yardstick as he provides several collateral form lines and on that basis Swiss Don has something to find. His hat-trick was in handicap company and he is now jumping to a different level. Is he a Harlamoff or has he progressed to a better class?
The finish of the Deccan Bookmakers Fillies' Championship Stakes, Gr.3 saw Practicallyperfect, Surya Lakshmi, Windsor Manor and Magnitude bunched up closely and verdict was a neck, three-parts of a length and a length and a half. Practicallyperfect may have been beaten on Saturday but she was not disgraced. Rated 37 points below Iaepetus and receiving only 1 kg. -- less than the normal sex allowance -- she finished within a length and a half of that horse and must surely have gone up much in ratings as a result of that run. That in turn boosts the form of the Fillies' Championship Stakes. With stronger handling, Surya Lakshmi (Burden of Proof - Indian Endeavour) could have won that race while Windsor Manor (Placerville - Amber Windsor), was found wanting in final stages after leading almost throughout. On that running, it is unlikely that 2000 m. will suit them better than a mile. Crown Crystal (Tejano - Crown Secret) was well adrift of the first four fillies and while she will be happier over the extended trip, reversing placings with the fillies ahead of her will take some doing. Like Swiss Don, Crown Crystal is trained by Shehzad Abbas and the trainer may just be concentrating more on the colt at this stage.
The two likely "raiders" -- In The Spotlight (out of Radiate) and Magnitude (out of Divine Diamond) -- are both fillies, both are daughters of Alnasr Alwasheek and both will be happy to be stepping up in distance. During the Bangalore Summer Season, both ran against St. Catz in different races and on those runnings Magnitude comes out better. However, trainer Padmanabhan's filly In The Spotlight has shown much improved form in the actual racing since. At the beginning of the Mysore Season, Southern Bay easily disposed off In the Spotlight. Allowed to run freely in front, In The Spotlight really made Southern Bay earn her laurels in the Mysore 1000 Guineas, demonstrating an improvement of over four lengths and leaving Lovely Kiss, a Gr.1 winner, toiling in her wake. She is clearly on an upward curve and strikes as the one most likely to trouble Super Duper.
Magnitude was only just beginning to warm up towards the end of the Fillies' Championship Stakes. She hasn't raced since but is expected to reverse the placings with Surya Lakshmi and Windsor Manor. L.V.R. Deshmukh, who trains Super Duper and Castle Town, could also be represented by Vijayshaurya (Trade Fair - Tropa Freska), a last start winner over 1400 m. beating Golden Rule who was fourth to Super Duper in the Colts' Championship Stakes. Vijayshaurya, whose dam is a half-sister to Royal Gladiator and Glensanda, doesn't threaten Super Duper on that running and could, perhaps, be used to set the pace.
A victory for Super Duper bucks the recent trends. In The Spotlight or Magnitude winning means that trend continues. A simple choice; or is it really?