The winter Classics carousel will be set in motion on Sunday when the Golconda 1000 Guineas, Gr.2 is run at Malakpet. This is the Classic where the locals have had their best moments with four fillies winning in the last five years. This time around, however, the advantage seems to lie with the strong contingent coming from Bangalore.
As the only Classic winner in the field, Dhariwal-trained Practicallyperfect (Sunday Doubt - Sterling Prospect) is an obvious front line contender. On her first visit to Malakpet in August, the filly picked up the DBA Hyderabad Fillies' Championship Stakes, Gr.3 at lucrative odds and that also makes her the sole course and distance winner. Since then, she has twice run fourth; first against older horses at unfavourable weights and then in the Field Marshal's Poonawalla Mysore Derby, Gr.1. The return to a mile will suit her.
Preordained sat out during the monsoons but showed that all was hunky dory with her effortless victory on reappearance. The last three runnings of this race have gone to got-abroad fillies. Trainer Padmanabhan has a splendid record with got-abroads and the stable has been in a rousing form of late. Preordained's two wins have come over 1200 m. but she was a good third behind Lovely Kiss and Black Magic Woman in the Bangalore Fillies' Championship Stakes, Gr.1 over a mile. It wouldn't be a surprise for sprinter Choisir to sire a good mile winner especially as there is class and stamina in Preordained's dam line. With four previous winners of this race to his credit, Padmanabhan has the best record among trainers with likely runners on Sunday. One of those four was Running Flame whom Martin Dwyer rode to a victory in 1998.
Apart from Practicallyperfect, the only other filly to have won over a mile is the Ramaswamy-owned Magnitude (Alnasr Alwasheek - Divine Diamond, a full-sister to Indian 1000 Guineas, Gr.1 winner Guest Connections). She was fourth in Practicallyperfect's race and just missed the board in In The Spotlight's Derby. She won her warm-up by seven lengths over a mile in soft going and is certain to have her say though a mile may be just a trifle sharp for her.
Silken Touch (Burden of Proof - Track Charm) will carry Dr. Vijay Mallya's silks. The chestnut filly trained by S.S. Attaollahi has never been off the board in her six starts. She is certainly consistent but needs to improve substantially on her fourth to Southern Bay in the K.R.H.O.A. Mysore 1000 Guineas, Gr.3.
The local affections will be torn between Surya Lakshmi (Burden of Proof - Indian Endeavour) and Windsor Manor (Placerville - Amber Windsor). The first-named, like her paternal half-sister Silken Touch, has been on board in all her six starts. Windsor Manor has five wins -- all upto 1400 m. -- from seven starts. The first time these two fillies clashed was in the Darley Arabian Stakes, Gr.3 in January over 1200 m. Windsor Manor won the race while Surya Lakshmi was third. Significantly, Surya Lakshmi has reversed the placing in their two subsequent encounters; in the DBA Hyderabad Fillies' Championship Stakes, Gr.3 (1600 m.) and Deccan Derby, Gr.1. (2000 m.). Windsor Manor has had a lung opener whereas Surya Lakshmi goes into the race without one. Over the mile trip, Surya Lakshmi looks to have the edge. Her trainer, K.V. Srinivas -- he saddled Bonzer to win the Golconda 2000 Guineas some years ago -- has tracked her systematically. M. Satyanarayana, who trains Windsor Manor, is looking for his first Classic win.
There will be other local contenders -- perhaps Aegis, Anacostia, Bloody Mary, Rajkumari -- to swell the field and there is Transformation (China Visit - Lei). Both the wins of this Raju-trained filly have been over a mile, including one this term. The filly has the pedigree but maybe the Golconda Oaks, all going well, will be her real target.
As far as ratings are concerned, the top half a dozen fillies are spanned by an 8-point margin. That's less than three lengths. Apart from the instrinsic calibre of the contestants, what will be crucial is the fitness on the day, the pace of the race, jockeyship and the inevitable luck factor.
PAST THE POST.
Here's some interesting trivia connected with the Golconda 1000 Guineas:-
* The largest field for the race has been 10 (in 2006, 2007 and 2008). On all three occasions, a locally-trained filly won.
* Dr. M.A.M. Ramaswamy and Dr. Vijay Mallya have each won the race seven times.
* The fastest time for the race is 1.37.11 clocked by Celestial Way in 2009.
* Poonawalla Group has bred eight winners of this race; one more than Usha Stud.
* In the last ten years, four favourites have won the race.