Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)
Two 1000 Guineas races, one at Calcutta and the other at Bangalore will be run on Saturday. Neither has found a sponsor and while the Calcutta race, which will be run earlier, is a Gr.3 contest, the one at Bangalore is a Gr.2 event.
In 1959-60, the race at Calcutta was run as Calcutta Fillies' Trial Stakes and won by a filly called Lollipop. It was only in 1967-68 that the name was changed to Calcutta 1000 Guineas (the terms and conditions being exactly the same) and the winner was Fusebox. Then, in 1971-72, the race was not run. So the Saturday's race will be the 53rd edition.
Bangalore came on the Winter Classics map in 1973-74. The 1000 Guineas that year was scheduled for 8 December. The last four races of that day were cancelled and race was eventually run on 22 December as the Replica Stakes for Bangalore 1000 Guineas. Hemavathi, trained by R.M. Puttanna, won the race. Puttanna, incidentally, also sent out the winners of the Bangalore 2000 Guineas (Hoysala) and Arc de Triomphe (Prince Ardent) that year.
CALCUTTA 1000 GUINEAS, Gr.3
Calcutta Monsoon Derby, Gr.3 victress Silverina (China Visit - Silver Print) is one of the six fillies still standing ground and could well start as the favourite. She hasn't raced this term but her trainer Bharath Singh has kept her in condition with regular track work. It takes an exceptionally talented horse to win a Summer/Monsoon Derby and then come back in distance to win a Guineas in the Winter. The list of horses who have failed to do so includes many famous names -- Prince Khartoum, Commanche, Manitou, Everynsky, Camineto, Cape Dance, Star Supreme, Holding Court and Moonlight Romance - restricting to winners of the Derby Bangalore and quoting the names from memory. However, it has to be said that in the last two years, Alice Springs, Aboline and Dandified did win a Guineas at Calcutta despite having won a Derby earlier.
It depends, to a large extent, on the type of the horse and the opposition that is there to overcome. A horse bred for longer distances struggles in a Guineas; a miler-type, Aboline being a good example, has a less of a problem. Silverina is bred to be an Oaks filly rather than a Guineas winner. She has the home advantage but then so does Coppelia (Noverre - Patricia). Silverina may be the only filly with a black-type win to her credit; on the other hand, Coppelia is higher rated and has recorded a win this season. Trained by Pesi Shroff for owners who are Western India based, the daughter of Noverre has done all her racing at Calcutta and that is a pointer in itself. Though she is yet to race over a mile, she has won three of her races over 1400 m. and the additional 200 m. on Saturday should not be a problem.
Iverness (Mull of Kintyre - Bravissima) made her racing debut rather late. It was only in September that raced under the silks and she thrashed the opposition by a distance over 1200 m. This term, she has followed it up with a five length victory over 1400 m. She is from the first crop of her sire while her dam was pretty smart, placing in both the Guineas and the Oaks at Mahalakshmi. Admittedly, Iverness will be facing far tougher opposition on Saturday but she is unbeaten, beautifully bred (balanced inbred to Native Dancer, Northern Dancer and Tom Rolfe) and comes from the same family as this year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Gr.1 heroine Solemia. She has more speed in her pedigree than Silverina and though she is yet to race over a mile, the trip is well within compass. Incidentally, both Coppelia and Iverness are from the same family.
It was In The Spotlight who won the race last year and started off on her triumphant journey. Her trainer S. Padmanabhan this year has Dr. Vijay Mallya's filly Chase The Sun (Burden of Proof - Catch Fire). The trainer himself may not be at Hastings on Saturday for he also has Equine Lover running at Bangalore. Chase The Sun's two wins from six starts have come over 1200 m. She was comprehensively beaten by Equine Lover in the Mysore 1000 Guineas, Gr.3 but finished ahead of Jersey Girl. Jersey Girl and Chase The Sun met again in the Garden City Cup and Puttana's filly reversed the placings to win by a nose. Jersey Girl, third in the Bangalore Fillies' Trial Stakes, Gr.1 as well as the Mysore1000 Guineas, Gr.3, is an ultra-consistent filly and thus a good yard-stick. Catch Fire, the dam of Chase The Sun, won five races upto 1400 m. She has had three foals, all chestnuts, to race so far; Cavalry Charge has two wins beyond a mile while Catchprase (who is also running on Saturday) has won once over a mile. Chase The Sun had finished ahead of Silverina in the Bangalore Fillies' Trial Stakes, Gr.1; however, as both the fillies were well behind the winner, it is more academic than significant. What is significant, though, is that the connections have allowed Chase The Sun, who will be ridden by David Allan, to take her chance here rather than Angel Child who was beaten only a length by Silverina in the Calcutta Monsoon Derby, Gr.3. As Angel Child is bred to stay, that is a wise decision indeed.
The line-up is completed by two Shroff-trained fillies. Destiny (Mull of Kintyre - Dynasty), a bracket-mate of Coppelia has two wins over 1200 m. and could well be entrusted with the mission of making it a fast run race. Koh Samui (Senure - Nojoom), a half-sister to the useful Maddox, runs in the colours of her breeders, the Mistrys, and won her last start over a mile. Both are much below Coppelia in the rating scale. In some ways, this is a strange Calcutta Classic for there isn't a single runner representing Dr. M.A.M. Ramaswamy or the local supremo Mr. Deepak Khaitan. In the last ten years they have won seven of the renewals between them. You have to go back to 1987 to find a Calcutta 1000 Guineas being run without a Ramaswamy or Khaitan runner. Another striking point is that only Silverina is the only filly in the field whose trainer is Calcutta-based.
BANGALORE 1000 GUINEAS, Gr.2
To unravel the Bangalore 1000 Guineas, Gr.2, it may be pertinent to go back to the Mysore 1000 Guineas, Gr.3 in September. The finishing order of that race was:-
1. Equine Lover
2. Chase The Sun
3. Jersey Girl
4. Art of Enchantment
5. Auburn Beauty
6. Simply Stylish
Also ran : I Say and Midnight Cruze
Verdict: 7, 1 1/2, L Nk, 1 1/2, 1 1/2
Except Chase The Sun who has gone chasing glory to Calcutta, the other five fillies, bar the also rans, will once again be in contention on exactly the same terms and conditions. The venue will be different but all of them are familiar with it. A few days after the Mysore 1000 Guineas came the Garden City Cup over 1400 m. at Mysore. The first four finishers were Jersey Girl, Chase The Sun (both carrying 57 kg.), Showin' Off and Thunderbay (both carrying 54 kg.) and verdict was Nose, neck and 1 1/4. A line through Smithsonite places Showin' Off and Ratham on almost the same rung. Nickel Chrome finished on the haunches of Chase The Sun in the Bangalore Fillies' Championship Stakes, Gr.1 though both were well behind the winner Vijays Pride.
Nine Bangalore-based fillies are thus well covered by collateral form and for there to be a difference in their inter se positions in Saturday's race, it will be necessary for for some of them to have improved, others to have regressed and for the luck of the race to favour one at the cost of the other. For Equine Lover to be beaten, her rivals need to show an improvement of about nine lengths; or, for them to improve five lengths and Padmanabhan's filly to run four lengths below her known form.
There is, however, an unknown factor in the race. That is the unbeaten filly Ring of Fire (Danehill Star - Arikana) who has won all of her four starts, including one over a mile, at Hyderabad where no one has finished less than three lengths behind her. She is trained by L.V.R. Deshmukh who is having a purple patch and there is that old saying about taking the tide at the flood. She is from the second crop of her sire, a sprinting, Australian-born son of Danehill, who had four crops down-under when standing at Tariqa Park Stud, South-West of Sydney. He had a solitary winner from a small first crop of just five runners in India in its first year. Arikana, who traces to the Aga Khan's Flying Filly Mumtaz Mahal, counted the Godolphin Barb Stakes, Gr.3 among her two wins. She has produced a couple of ordinary winners so far. The immediate anetcedents of Ring of Fire may be rather moderate but her unbeaten status and her trainer's current form mean that she cannot be ignored.
There are some other pointers to be heeded. Showin' Off has twice been withdrawn on account of her tantrums at the starting gate. Ratham will be running for the first time after having bled in An Acquired Taste's Bangalore Summer Million, Gr.3. Jersey Girl, a very consistent filly, is trained by B. Puttanna. B. Puttanna had a winner on the day Hemavathi won the inaugural running of this race forty years ago. He has had a long innings and is still looking for his first Classic. He will be heartened by the fact that from among the sires represented in the race only Burden of Proof has a previous winner - Siachen to his credit. Excellent Art, sire of Art of Enchantment, is said to be on his way to Poonawalla Farms. A win for Padmanabhan's second string will result in what are termed as "mixed emotions" in the Poonawalla Camp. Simply Stylish is better suited for an Oaks rather than a Guineas.
A Classic winner versus an unbeaten filly could well be the theme for Saturday. In the last ten years, favourites have had a better time at Calcutta where seven of them have won whereas at Bangalore only five have justified their place at the head of betting. The verdict at both the venues has generally been clear-cut with the camera man coming into play just once at each centre.
PAST THE POST
The 1979 Bangalore 1000 Guineas, Gr.2 winner Nicolette (Red Indian - Nicola) is the one chosen from the 39 previous winners of the race. The Byerly Stud-bred grey filly was an odds-on favourite in a field of eight and jockey Jagdish sent her on just before the bend. She battled resolutely to win by a neck from Green Goddess (R. Still up) who ranged up to her with a furlong to go but simply could not go past. A second winner of the race for owner Dr. M.A. Ramaswamy and trainer Aris David, she was the only one for jockey Jagdish.
The reason for singling out Nicolette is that before that racing year was over, she had run up a tally of nine Classic wins and broken Fair Haven's record of eight established ten years earlier. Of course, there were only 19 Classics in India when Fair Haven raced whereas the number had gone up to 38 in Nicolette's time. Never off-the-board in her 20 starts over two years, Nicolette won 11 races and earned Rs. 7,23,545. The Classics that she won were the Golconda Derby, Gr.1, Nilgiris Derby, Gr.1, Golconda Oaks, Gr.2, South India 1000 Guineas, Gr.2, Bangalore 1000 Guineas, Gr.3, Bangalore Fillies' Trial Stakes, Gr.3, Mysore 1000 Guineas, Gr.3, Mysore 2000 Guineas, Gr.3 and Nilgiris Fillies' Trial Stakes, Gr.3. It was an evenful career for she won Mysore 1000 Guineas, Gr.3 on a successful objection, got the Mysore 2000 Guineas, Gr.3 on disqualification of Well Connected (a la In The Spotlight) and had to survive an objection, despite winning by three and a half lengths, in the Golconda Derby, Gr.1. Later that very year, her stable-mate Aristocrat equalled her record (as did Birthday Girl a year later) while Chaitanya Chakram eclipsed it in 1987. This year, In The Spotlight has joined Nicolette, Aristocrat and Birthday Girl.
Nicolette was retired to Poonawalla farms and had five foals to race, three by Riyahi who were ordinary winners and two by Malvado who managed to win and place in black-type races. Overall, her stud record was not in keeping her track achievements.