• Punjabi Girl wins The Fillies Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
  • Sir Cecil wins The Colts Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
  • Sir Cecil wins The Kingfisher Ultra Derby Bangalore (Gr.1)
  • Desert God wins The Tetrasoft Inc. Bangalore St. Leger (Gr.2)
By Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)
Friday 13 Dec 2013
Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)

The 71st running of the Indian 1000 Guineas on Sunday sees a new sponsor and fifteen fillies are still left in. At the end of last Mumbai season, three fillies towered over others. We have had about 8 months of racing since then and it is still the same trio - Starry Eyes (Multidimensional - Pricewise), Amelia (Multidimensional - Adamile) and Mariinsky (Burden of Proof - Sabre Dance) - that command attention and will, in all probability, have shorter odds than their rivals chalked against their names. In March, the nod would perhaps have been in favour of Starry Eyes; on Sunday, it is difficult to separate them.

Mariinsky, has a reeled off a winning hat-trick in her last three starts – The F.D. Wadia Trophy, Gr.2, Calcutta Fillies' Trial Stakes and Abaran Bangalore 1000 Guineas, Gr.2 - and heads the ratings with 102 against her name while Starry Eyes is at 83 and Amelia at 80. That rating flatters Mariinsky because it was gained by her beating of Keturah whose own rating owed entirely to her four wins at Mysore. In February, Starry Eyes beat Mariinsky by a little over three lengths in the Poonawalla Breeders' Multi-Million, Gr.1 while in June Amelia was two and a quarter lengths ahead of Dr. Mallya's filly in the Bangalore Fillies' Championship Stakes, Gr.1. Those two results are a better indication of their relative standings. Three lengths cover the three fillies and that means none of them has a clear advantage. It takes one filly to run two lengths better on the day and for others to run two lengths poorer for the order to be changed.

There, of course, are reasons why it could happen. Mariinsky has raced without a break, taken travelling in her stride - she has won at four different courses - and would appear to be well sharpened unless her latest sojourn to Bangalore has taken more out of her than apparent. She is a full-sister to Fleeting Arrow, their dam Sabre Dance being a winner of the Castrol Calcutta Oaks, Gr.3. Fleeting Arrow was best at a mile and there is a feeling that Mariinsky herself prefers a slightly shorter trip. 

Amelia, out of a star miler, has won three races from five starts but never two-in-a-row. She flopped badly in the Kingfisher Derby Bangalore, Gr.1 - whether it was the distance or the going that was against her is a debatable point - after winning the Bangalore Fillies'Championship Stakes, Gr.1 but sent to Malakpet, she picked up the Deccan Bookmakers' Hyderabad Fillies' Championship Stakes, Gr.3 without a fuss. She hasn't raced since. Like Mariinsky, Amelia is trained by Pesi Shroff who has won this race thrice in his short training career. His last winner - Alma Mater - had also gone into the race without a prep run. Amelia has had a mock race but we have no evidence of how taut her strings are.

After running a close second to Murioi in the Poonawalla Breeders' Multi-Million, Gr.1, Starry Eyes thrashed eight fillies - including Janis Jay, Circle of Life and Trance - who took her on in the Forbes Breeders' Juvenile Fillies' Championship, Gr.3 and at that stage she looked a star in the making. Her summer campaign in Bangalore was disastrous as she finished a dismal twelfth in both her races, first the Bangalore Fillies' Championship Stakes, Gr.1 and then the Kingfisher Derby Bangalore, Gr.1. Either she didn't like the course or took an aversion to Suraj Narredu who rode her in those two essays for her performance was too bad to comprehend. Her trainer, Cooji Katrak, began working her from the middle of the Pune season and on the opening day of the current Mumbai season, she won the Maharaja of Morvi Trophy. She was a facile winner and carrying 56 kgs. and she clocked 1.27.64. Later that very day, Alaindair (53 kgs.) returned 1.23.24 and Beforememoryfades (50.5 kgs.) was timed at 1.23.56 over the same distance. So, as a wind-up for the Guineas, what that the Morvi tells is very little and like Amelia her fitness will need to be assessed on her paddock looks. In truth, Starry Eyes is bred to be more of an Oaks filly than a Guineas contender, though the long Mahalakshmi straight will be to her advantage. She is a course and distance winner as is Mint Approach. 

What the last eight months of racing has done, though, is that it has brought to the fore some fillies who on their day can put it across the three principal contenders. Keukenhof (Multidimensional - Secret Garden), one of the three fillies likely to be saddled by Imtiaz Sait, has three wins against her name like Amelia coming in alternate starts and is rated 81. A line through Dynamo - third in Deccan Bookmakers Golconda 2000 Guineas, Gr.2 - suggests that she has to find just a couple of lengths against Mariinsky. Though in time she could get longer, a mile is not a disadvantage. She has worked well with the much higher rated Deja Vu.

There are two interesting fillies - To The Manor Born (Royal Kingdom - Mandara) and Beforememoryfades (Lawman - Gold Bar) - who will carry Mr. Shyam Ruia's all dark blue colours though one of them will have to sport a white cap.Thirty five years ago, Vox Populi carried the same colours to a victory in this race. In fact, the 1968 victress Venus de Milo was also owned by him as a part-owner though she ran in the colours of Mr. Radha Sigtia. Au Panache (1987) and Alma Mater (2011) are Mr. Ruia's other winners of the race. No owner has won the race five times and that is a big incentive for Mr. Ruia.

Two years ago, there were 15 fillies in the race and Mr. Ruia had two - Alma Mater and St. Catz - racing for him. They were drawn 14 and 15 and the owner must be fervently hoping that his fillies draw better marbles this time. Alma Mater, despite taking a fly jump from the barrier, won the race. Alma Mater and To The Manor Born share many similarities going into the race. Both are daughters of Royal Kingdom, both are unbeaten and both have not raced during the current season. To The Manor Born has had a mock race in which she beat Amelia by a length. She,  who in all probability be ridden by Peslier, is from the Aga Khan's peerless Mumtaz Mahal family.  Beforememoryfades has won her last two starts and the smart time she clocked on the opening day entitles her to take her chance. She is a 'got-abroad' by Lawman, a winner of the Prix du Jockey Club. Lawman's best progeny, however, has excelled around a mile. There is stamina in the excellent bottom half of the pedigree and though she is a trifle inexperienced, Beforememoryfades has exhibited admirable fighting qualities in her two wins.

There are four other 'got-abroads' in the fray:-

ARCH DUCHESS (Amadeus Wolf - Miss Sugar Lips). She is a maiden after six starts and so the pedigree is irrelevent.

CIRCLE OF LIFE (Singspiel - Dubai Spirit). By a sire of international standing and from the immediate family of Arazi and Noverre, this filly has the pedigree to be good. She was a faraway second to Jeremiah in the Nanoli Stud Pune Derby, Gr.1. However, if Starry Eyes is back to her best, she will find it hard to reel in Katrak's filly.

MAUNA KEA (Sakhee - Derasaat). Sakhee won the Arc but as a sire his performance has been erratic and disappointing. He started out at GBP 20,000 but is now available at GBP 2,500. Her dam won her only race over a mile for Hamdan al Maktoum. Has two wins from three starts and in time could be a useful performer. This race perhaps come too early for her.

SHEER CLASS (Shamardal - Ripple of Pride). Like Lawman, Shamardal is a winner of the Prix du Jockey Club. He is a successful stallion at Kildangan Stud, commanding a covering fee of 50,000 Euros. The dam is a full sister to the Sagitta Two Thousand Guineas, Gr.1 winner Refuse To Bend and half-sister to Melbourne Cup, Gr.1 winner Media Puzzle. Ripple of Pride cost Kunigal Stud 58,000 Euros at the Goffs Sale in 2009. Sheer Class has one win from three starts but was beaten by Beforememoryfades last time out. By the time the Indian Oaks is run, she may have come into her own.

Of all the trainers who will be saddling the fillies on Sunday, none has a better overall all-India Classic record than S. Padmanabhan. So it may seem a bit strange that his ward - Isn't She Special - hasn't had a mention so far. Especially since the daughter of Ace is a winner of the Mysore 1000 Guineas, Gr.3. The fact is that since winning that race the filly seems to have regressed. She ran off the board in Jeremiah's Vijay Textiles Deccan Derby, Gr.1 and on her last start was more than seven lengths behind Mariinsky in the Abaran Bangalore 1000 Guineas, Gr.2. That is too long a margin and a fortnight is too short a period in which to reverse it.


Seventy renewals of this race have taken place and each one has a story attached to it. The race chosen for a mention here was run on 18 December 1966 which was also the last day of the opening Test match of the series against the West Indies being played at the Brabourne Stadium. At close of play on Saturday, West Indies, requiring 192 runs to win, were 25 for 2 with Conrad Hunte and the night-watchman Lance Gibb at the crease. Both the wickets had been captured by B.S. Chandrasekhar, making his debut. Chandrasekhar, of course, had scalped seven maroon caps in the first innings.

Gibbs became Chandra's third victim on the final morning and when he followed it up with the wicket of Hunte at 90, the match was suddenly open. Two quick wickets and a game was on. The West Indies of those years, though, wrote their own scripts. Sobers and Lloyd, batting in what would today be called 'the one day mode', had a century partnership at run a ball and the match was over. One theory was that they had decided to take on Chandra and throw him off his comfort zone. The truth is that the West Indies team had been given a "won't lose" tip for Indian 1000 Guineas and they wanted to be at Mahalakshmi when it was run.

When the 'Vadharos' had come out on Thursday, the race was considered a match between two daughters of Rock of Gibraltar - Mr. J.D. Banatwalla's River Haven and Mr. Suresh Mahindra's own-bred Multirosa. Late on Saturday night and all through the Sunday morning, Talib-trained Multirosa came in for such support that she ended up the clear favourite. It was Multirosa that had been tipped to the West Indies team.

No sooner had the winning runs been scored, the West Indies rushed out of the CCI pavillion, got into the waiting cars and made it in time for the big race at Mahalakshmi. It turned out to be quite thrilling with River Haven and Multirosa fighting all down the straight and Eric Eldin scrambling home by a short-head on Mr. Banatwalla's filly. That was the only Classic winner for the owner and trainer Kheem Singh. The following Sunday, Multirosa recouped all losses as she beat the favourite Nijinsky in the Indian 2000 Guineas where River Haven was only third. The Mahindra filly easily accounted for River Haven in the Indian Oaks and ran second to Nijinsky in the Indian Derby as well as the Indian St. Leger. She is one of the four fillies to have placed in all the five Indian Classics. Alas ! She failed to carry to the West Indian wager.

At least one West Indian cricketer gained something that day. An intrepid cameraman snapped a photograph of Garfield Sobers and the twenty year-old Bollywood starlet Anju Mahendru walking hand in hand on the Juhu Beach later that night and an engagement - which lasted only a couple of years - was officially announced the following week.


There is a likelihood that To The Manor Born may not be in Sunday's line-up. The filly hasn't been eating too well and the owner is not one to take a chance. If she doesn't run, Beforememoryfades will be ridden by Olivier Peslier, the forty year-old Frenchman and four times a Champion Jockey is his country. All going well, To The Manor Born will now aim for the Indian Oaks, Gr.1.