Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)
As of now, the Hazara Stud-bred 'got-abroad' gelding Machiavellianism (Jazil - Empress Jesse) is the highest rated member of the crop born in 2009 in India. He has five wins from 10 starts and they include the Bangalore Colts' Championship Stakes, Gr.1 and D.B.A. Hyderabad Colts' Championship Stakes, Gr.3. In fact, trainer L.V.R. Deshmukh's trainee has never been beaten over the metric mile nor has any horse trained at Hyderabad finished ahead of him so far. The two next best rated contenders in the eight-strong field for the Deccan Bookmakers Golconda 2000 Guineas, Gr.2 on Sunday will be stablemate Ashwa Shakti (Rebuttal - Speedwell) and his own pacemaker Plenipotent. Machiavellianism has had a winning run during the current Hyderabad season and has since been kept simmering with judicious track-work. It is difficult to see how he can be beaten and who can beat him. Cramped odds may not justify a wager on him; on the other hand, betting against him can hardly be justified rationally. Strange things do indeed happen in racing; but not often enough can they be predicted.
A winning habit is an important attribute of a good horse. Some of Machiavellianism's rivals haven't won in recent times. The last win of San Ramon came on the Independence Day; ten days before that was the last time that trainer Deshmukh came out to lead-in Plenipotent; Maximus hasn't won since April; Ashok Chakra hasn't been first past the post since February while you have to go back to January for the last victory of Anonymous. None of these five has so far won beyond 1400 m.; and, in fact, Maximus, Anonymous, Ashwa Shakti and Ashok Chakra are yet to tackle a mile so far. Wind of the North (Razeen - Cool Ashlee) is a maiden and could well be the obligatory "left-in-by-mistake" which the Western India trainers specialise in.
That is not say that these horses will not win over a mile. They have the pedigrees to do so. Just that they are more likely to do it in their own class rather than in a Classic which has an outstanding miler.
Plenipotent (Iffraaj - Beldon Hill) has the pedigree to be a very good horse. Just a few months ago, jockey P.S. Chouhan chose him in preference to Machiavellianism in the Bangalore Colts' Championship Stakes, Gr.1. This year, Deshmukh's stable is choc-a-full of classy got-abroads and he has had to place them judicously. Plenipotent thus found himself being used as a pacemaker. Machiavellianism comes from well off the pace and so it is necessary for Chouhan to time his run correctly for a split second's delay can be critical. In the last race of his career, Indian Triple Crown winner Indictment allowed his bracket-mate and pacemaker Amarillo too much leeway and was beaten in the Idar Gold Trophy, Gr.2. Yes. Strange things do happen in racing.
A hat-trick of wins brought San Ramon (Placerville - Sorrento Steel) into the picture for the Vijay Textiles Deccan Derby, Gr.1 and though he placed third, he was over nine lengths behindthe the runner-up Machiavellianism. Since then, San Ramon has raced twice without winning; once over 2000 m. and once over 2400 m. The longer distances are no surprise for his dam is by Montjeu, a confirmed source of stamina.
The three runs of Maximus (Royal Kingdom - Marquisa) have come at three different tracks. He won on his debut at Mahalakshmi, was second to Red Baron in Bangalore during the summer and then was beaten a short-head by Victorious March at Pune with Centrestage third. Centrestage ran a fair second to Vijays Pride in the Golconda 1000 Guineas, Gr.2 last month. Two points need consideration. Firstly, Maximus and Centrestage ran at level weights whereas the filly would have got 1.5 kgs. in a terms race. Secondly, Centrestage never threatened the winner in the Classic. Maximus has had a mock race at Mumbai in preparation for this race.
Anonymous (Adler - Anonymity) has never been off-the-board in his six starts which have been in modest company. His last victory came as far back as January while none of his siblings have yet won beyond 1400 m. Interestingly, he was sent out with the proven miler Aristos in one of his recent work-outs. Both Ashwa Shakti and Ashok Chakra are gelded sons of Rebuttal, sire of last year's winner Pedalo. The former, though trained by Deshmukh, carries different colours from Machiavellianism and Plenipotent. He was taken earlier to Mumbai to run in the Gool S.Poonawalla Million, Gr.3 where he just missed the board. Recent form lines through Golden Palace show that Machiavellianism is clearly superior to him.
As Machiavellianism attempts to become the first 'got-abroad' to win the race since Royal Gladiator in 2001, it is worth noting that in the last ten years only four favourites have won. That is a slightly below par percentage for a Classic. Honours have been generally well-distribted; only stallion Gaswar, Kunigal Stud and trainers S. Ganapathy and L.V.R. Deshmukh have recorded more than a solitary win.
PAST THE POST
Chaitanya Chakram (T.V. Sunday - Urvashi), the winner of the 1986 Golconda 2000 Guineas, Gr.2, is the obvious choice. "Chakram", as he was popularly called, was bred at the Hargobind Livestock & Agricultural Farm in Punjab and Jaggy Dhariwal sent him out to win 15 races from 19 starts. He ran in the colours of M/s. V.C. Narasimha Rao, V. Vasanth Kumar Reddy, J.S. Dhariwal and Sukhbir S. Bedi. His year older full-sister Chaitanya Ratham also ran in the same colours (till she was sold to Dr. M.A.M. Ramaswamy) and was trained by Dhariwal.
A quarter of a century after his last start, he still holds the record of having won more Classics than any other horse in India. In fact, he would surely have won one more had racing in the state Tamil Nadu not come to an abrupt halt. He had already won the Nilgiris Colts' Trial Stakes, Gr.3 and the Nilgiris Derby, Gr.1 was at his mercy. The ten Classics that he won were:-
Charminar Challenge Indian Turf Invitation Cup, Gr.1
McDowell Indian Derby, Gr.1
Bangalore Derby, Gr.1
Charminar Challenge Deccan Derby, Gr.1
Mysore Derby, Gr.2
Golconda 2000 Guineas, Gr.2
Golconda St. Leger, Gr.2
Bangalore Colts' Trial Stakes, Gr.3
Nilgiris Colts' Trial Stakes, Gr.3
D.B.A. Hyderabad Colts' Trial Stakes
He raced on six of the nine tracks in India and posted a win on each one of them. He also won three summer/monsoon derbys and that's an unmatched feat. A filly can run in all Classics but a colt can't run in Classics restricted to the fair sex.
Chaitanya Chakram was retired as a stallion by the Hyderabad Race Club and so enjoyed the Malakpet scenery for some years after having stood initially at Lumbini Stud. His stud career was undistinguised. In retirement, he moved to the place of his birth.