Maj. Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)
The Golconda 2000 Guineas has been won, more often than not, by outstation horses. The very first running was claimed by Aristocrat as was the last renewal by Astounding Gallop. In the intervening thirty years, another 18 outstation horses have been to the fore. This time around, the field is likely to be small, no equine big guns will be on show and for that very reason the race has a competitive look. What's more, the home team holds the upper hand on ratings with the top three likely contenders being Malakpet- based.
Swiss Don (Don Micheletto - Swiss Maid), a winner of four races from eights starts, heads the rating scale at 83. Trained by Shehzad Abbas, he is a versatile -- his four wins have come over 1400 m, 1600 m., 1800 m.and 2000 m. -- and consistent -- never ever off-the-board -- performer and has a course and distance victory to his credit when last seen under colours. He was beaten a short-head by Windsor Manor on his debut as 2YO, third behind Surya Lakshmi and Vijayshaurya in the VIF Godolphin Barb Million, Gr.3 and came out of the maiden ranks with a three-parts of a length victory over Field Marshal in Bangalore. Two wins during Hyderabad's Monsoon Season completed his hat-trick and then he was again fourth to In The Spotlight, Surya Laksmi and Vijayshaurya in the Deccan Derby, Gr.1. Last month he gave 3 kgs. and beat Golden Rule (Placerville - Orient Dance) by a head over a mile, establishing a new track record in the process.
Golden Rule won as a 2YO on debut last November. Since then, he has not managed a winning bracket in a dozen starts, placing consistently and was fourth in Super Duper's D.B.A. Hyderabad Colts' Championship Stakes, Gr.3. His stable-mate Golden Palace (Quest Star - Groves Iesis) has three wins but is rated a point lower. Both the wards of Leo D'Silva are honest customers but don't quite strike as being Classic winners. Incidentally, Golden Rule has always finished ahead of Golden Palace on the couple of occasions that they have run in the same race. L.V.R. Deshmukh's Pedalo (Rebuttal - Palladio), on the other hand, has impressed some astute observers. He started racing only in September and has won both his starts fluently, beating Golden Rule (getting 6 kgs but finishing ahead by a little over five lengths) last time out.
The best of the visiting trio from Bangalore is Ridgeway (Sunday Doubt - Star of the Crop). He won first time out at Bangalore in June beating Hill Dioro by half a length. On his next start, Hill Dioro beat Field Marshal by three-fourth length -- precisely the same verdict as registered by Swiss Don. Field Marshal and Hill Dioro’s Bangalore 2000 Guineas will be run on Saturday and that result will have a huge bearing on the Malakpet race. Arjun Mangalorkar, who has more Classic wins at Hyderabad than any other centre, trains Ridgeway for M/s. Dilip Thomas & Pritham Basappa. An interesting aspect of Ridgeway's pedigree is that his departed sire's only Classic winner has come at Hyderabad. What's more, Star of the Crop, her dam Follow The Star and the next dam Chaitanya Ratham have all won Classics at Malakpet.
Ridgeway has been lightly raced. After his debut win, he was sixth in the Nanoli Stud Bangalore Summer Million, Gr.3 won by In The Spotlight from St. Catz, had a break from racing during the wet weather and returned to action with a facile five length victory over Sudden Magic, Top Secret and Lad King -- another likely runner in Bangalore 2000 Guineas -- last month.
Sunday Storm (Sunday Doubt - Annakita) and Castro (Burden of Proof - Chiliandrina) are the other two possible runners journeying from Bangalore. After five times having been on the board in his five starts, Sunday Storm was rested during the monsoons by trainer Padmanabhan. Last month he shed his maiden tag over 1200 m. with Martin Dwyer aboard. He is bred on the same cross as Ridgeway and has an interesting pedigree pattern. However, he was almost a distance behind Ridgeway when they raced together. As was Castro when Ridgeway won his second race.
Swiss Don, the best of the home team and Ridgeway, leader of the away pack, strike as the two main contenders though they are separated by a good 17 points in the scale. The line through Field Marshal, however, brings them much closer. Ridgeway comes from a line that has been at Dashmesh Stud for four generations. Swiss Don is a product of the Nakul Stud but his dam was born at Sarai Nanga and comes from Aga Khan's celebrated Mumtaz Mahal family.
No stud farm in India appreciated the importance of the established Classic Indian families better than Dashmesh. That nursery was always on the look out for mares from such families and acquired Urvashi, the fourth dam of Ridgeway, in the late 1970s. As late as the year 2000, Pedalo's grandam Twenty Carats -- from the family of Indian Derby winner Rose Royal, Aristocracy and others -- was bought. Incidentally, first season sires Rebuttal, Sunday Doubt and Quest Star have a good representation in the race.
PAST THE POST
Some trivia about the Golconda 2000 Guineas:-
* No surprise that Dr. M.A.M. Ramaswamy heads the winning owners having won the race eight times.
* Surprise, surprise. Neither the Poonawalla Group nor Usha Stud is at the top of the table.
It's Doaba/Galloping with six winners.
* Jaggy Dhariwal (5 wins) and Vasant Shinde (3 wins) are the leading trainer and leading jockey respectively.
* The record time for Golconda 1000 Guineas is faster than that for Golconda 2000 Guineas.