• 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 20 Dec 2013
Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)

Having won the fillies' version last Sunday, the Burden of Proof filly Mariinsky will be back on the Mahalakshmi track once again, this time mixing it up with the boys. The late entry paid for her bid to become the seventh filly to bag both the Guineas symbolises the confidence of the connections and is a tribute to a meticulous and successful Guineas campaign so far. Dr. Vijay Mallya has won the 1000 Guineas at all the four major winter centres and the 2000 Guineas at Calcutta this year, the wins coming through three different trainers. 

Mariinsky will have her third race in three weeks. Once she had hit the front in the Indian 1000, no other filly reached her haunches and yet her time was the fastest ever for the race. It may not have taken much out of her and Pesi Shroff also trained Jacqueline, the last filly to win both the Guineas, so he knows what is involved. Just before the Indian 1000, Zeyn Mirza, Dr. Mallya's Racing Manager, was asked if their filly was the one to beat or if they had someone to nail. He was candid enough to say, "I can't say Mariinsky is the one to beat but I am not sure who we have to beat. We are prepared to take on anyone." This Sunday, there is only one filly in the field and everyone will be gunning for her. 

Dr. Mallya has a strong hand for the race for apart from Mariinsky, two grey Verglas 'got-abroad's will be running in his own colours. Silver Streak (out of Optimal), trained by Dallas Todywalla, was only fourth in the Deccan Bookmakers Golconda 2000 Guineas, Gr.2 after having led for much of the trip. In all probability, his task will be to ensure a good pace for Shroff's pair of Mariinsky and Silver Arrow (out of Isotta). After running a fair third on his debut, Silver Arrow, like Mariinsky, has won his last four races. He started off by winning the Kunigal Stud Breeders' Produce Stakes, Gr.3 and has since charted a slightly unconventional route - not surprising given the wealth of talent in Shroff's yard - winning three mile races. Despite being 'off-the-radar', he has stealthily reached a rating matched only by Alaindair - both a point ahead of Mariinsky - in the field. There is good staying blood in his German bottom half of the pedigree. His sire has already had Versaki in India who won the Nanoli Stud Pune Derby, Gr.1 not long ago. Silver Arrow, however, has his quirks with which jockey P. Trevor is familiar so the 1000 Guineas winning partnership is likely to be broken. 

Alaindair (Multidimensional - God's Grace) has won his last three races and they include the summer double of the Bangalore Colts' Championship Stakes, Gr.1 and Kingfisher Derby Bangalore, Gr.1. He showed all was well with him despite being rested during the monsoons when winning his come-back race at Mahalakshmi in a smart time beating good class horses. He had held on gallantly from Turf Striker in Kingfisher Derby Bangalore, Gr.1 and latter's easy victory in The Dr. P. Dayanand Pai and Mr. P.Satish Pai Bangalore 2000 Guineas, Gr.2 bodes well for his chances. His form is impeccable and in his last start he showed that he can be raced and come from behind to win. Both Alaindair and Silver Arrow have run against Manyatta - who has since won in their absence this term and on that basis the former enjoys an edge.  

Pedigree-wise, Alaindair is better suited by a mile because the stamina elements in his damline are indifferent. Alaindair is from the first crop of the Danehill horse Multidimensional. While Burden of Proof has stolen the thunder in the Guineas so far, the Usha Stud stallion has had his moments. Striking won the Calcutta 1000 Guineas, Gr.3. Charlatan [Burden of Proof] won the Calcutta 2000 Guineas, G.3 but the other three in the frame were by Multidimensional. The sire did not have a runner in Mariinsky's Bangalore race but had one in the frame in Turf Striker's while the runner-up to Apparition at Malakpet was a daughter of his. It was only in the Deccan Bookmakers Golconda 2000 Guineas, Gr.2 that there was no Multidimensional on the board. A fair enough record which could get a boost on Sunday. 

We now come to Murioi (Dubawi - Zacheta's Girl). The Ganapathy trained colt has been as exasperating as Starry Eyes. If Murioi was top colt at the end of last Mumbai, Starry Eyes was the best filly. Both lost lustre and a lot of friends during the summer in Bangalore and both won their first starts in Mumbai. Starry Eyes did place third last Sunday but her run lacked sparkle. Where does that leave Murioi ? 

If the winner could be picked on the basis of the sire alone, Murioi would be hard to oppose. A mare visiting the Darley stallion at Dalham Hall Stud in 2014 will first have to shell out 100,000 Guineas ! As a matter of interest, the covering fees of sires of other 'got-abroads' still left-in in the race are -- Verglas (10,000 Euros), Bahamian Bounty (8,500 Guineas), Camacho (7,500 Euros) and Haatef (3,000 Euros).  The unraced Zacheta's Girl, whose dam is a half-sister to the Arc winner Marienbard, was picked up by Hazara Stud at Goffs 2009 November Sale for a mere 18,000 Euros ! 

The pedigree of a horse is academic once it has started racing. Performance becomes more important and as a measure of Murioi's performance we have Circle of Life whom he beat by a length and three quarters giving six kgs. Mariinsky beat the Shirke filly by exactly the same margin at level weights. Then, as we come to the race day, even the performance tends into irrelevance. What counts is fitness, the luck of the race and a backer's own fortune. Mariinsky needs to find an improvement of four lengths and that is not an impossible task for the hardy filly. Both Murioi and Mariinsky are course and distance winners as is Silver Arrow. Ten years ago, it would have been possible to be bullish about Murioi's chances. These days the stable blows hot and cold and that is a deterrent. 

The dual Derby winning grey Jeremiah is a notable absentee here. The cards were on the table, almost, when Shroff ran him over 2000 m. just a fortnight ago. Since he won that race easily, we can surmise that all is well with him and that he is being primed for the first Sunday in February. There are two conspicuous hallmarks of the way Shroff plies his craft. Firstly, he is a shrewd judge of the fitness of his horses and, secondly, he is always thinking not just of the next race but the one after that. That being so, it would appear that Mariinsky will not be aimed at the longer Classics.

In alphabetical order, Alaindair, Mariinsky, Murioi and Silver Arrow will be vying to get their number put up and if anyone else manages to do that, he will be a gatecrasher. 


The Indian 2000 Guineas is a race that has seen it all. We had a dead-heat in 1967 when the camera couldn't separate Buland and Our Select giving us a dead-heat. Three years later, Bright Hanovar crossed the winning post two lengths ahead of Spellbound only to lose the race on a successful objection by G. Sexton, the rider of Spellbound. It was the first successful objection in an Indian Classic. In 1978, we had a 'match' which became a farce as Royal Tern finished a distance ahead of Ajaya. 

Of all the Indian Classics, the 2000 Guineas is the race in which the assistance of the camera has been least required. The victories have generally been clear-cut. In fact, some of the most brilliant mile races have been seen in the '2000'. At a recent get-together, the talk turned to the most brilliant winners of the Indian 2000 Guineas. The discussion was lively - as is generally to be expected when the amber liquid is flowing freely through the veins - and predictably was inconclusive. But five names that cropped up were:- 

Prince Pradeep

No one agreed on all the five as a package. At the same time, everyone had atleast three of the five names in their own list.