• 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 24 Jan 2014
Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)

The Bangalore Derby, Gr.1 to be run on the Republic Day is the only Derby in India that is not sponsored this winter and it would have been the only one without a Classic winner participating had it not been for the final entry of Sur La Tete. 14 Classics have been run so far and with only three favourites obliging, the betting fraternity has been hard hit. This is a wide open race and may not afford solace to the punters. Kunigal Stud and Usha Stud have monopolised the Classic results to date, each farm winning five. There has been no Classic this year in which either a Kunigal-bred or an Usha-bred has not figured on board and in seven of the contests, both the nurseries have had a runner in the frame. It is hence prudent to start with Sunday's runners from these two farms. 

Brought back to Bangalore and rested, the pillar to post Golconda Oaks, Gr.2 winner Sur La Tete has been supplemented here. The filly fought for her head early on in that race and her jockey David Allan wisely eased her into the lead. A variation of the same tactic saw the Allan-Padmanabhan combination bag the Villoo Poonawalla Indian Oaks, Gr.1 and you can be sure that this time the other jockeys will keep closer tabs on Allan if he sets off in front. The Deccan Bookmakers' Golconda Derby, Gr.1 victory of Roses in Bloom - she was only fourth to Sur La Tete in the Golconda Oaks - enhances the prospects of the filly. She has already got the distance and her dam Running Flame has transmitted her own stamina to all her produce irrespective of the sire's aptitude. Padmanabhan is canny enough to come up with a suitable change of plan. The Padmanabhans have had to pay a final entry fee of Rs. 8,00,000 and that can be recovered only by the filly finishing in the first three. 

The other Kunigal-bred is Agostini (Burden of Proof - Glorious Beauty) who is the highest rated contender participating. He has four wins to his credit but has never won twice consecutively. A faller in the Deccan Bookmakers' Golconda 2000 Guineas, Gr.2 when he was the favourite, he showed that the mishap was not serious by coming out to win the Chief Minsiter's Cup over 2000 m. early this year in which he beat  the consistent older horse Wind Stream. (Snowdrift, it needs to be mentioned, beat Ocean and Beyond and Dandified in his lead-up to Eveready Calcutta Derby, Gr.1). Agostini is named after the world motorcycle champion and his dam is a three-parts sister to Invitation Cup winner Autonomy. 

Usha Stud is represented by two Multidimensionals so there is numerical parity with Kunigal Stud and stallion Burden of Proof. Supreme Regime, a half-brother to Calcutta St. Leger, Gr.3 winner Silverina, has been used as a pacemaker for Southern Emperor previously and could be on a similar mission again, this time for The Ministerian. The stable, however, is known come up with something unexpected and may well run for himself.  

Ambitious Reward is bred on exactly the same lines as Snowdrift. His pedigree reads Multidimensional - Star Perfection (Steinbeck) - Santorini Star (Razeen) - Blue Ice; whereas, Snowdrift has Multidimensional - Snow Tiger (Steinbeck) - Miss Freeze (Razeen) - Snow. Blue Ice and Snow, of course are Classic winning full-sisters. If anything, Ambitious Reward is better bred as Star Perfection, Santorini Star and Blue Ice are all Classic winners. The gelding himself was third in Dr. P. Dayanand Pai & Mr. P. Satish Pai Bangalore 2000 Guineas, Gr.2 behind Turf Striker and Southern Emperor both of whom are absent here. Multidimensional has an incredible seven individual Classic winners from his first crop and will be looking for his eighth just as V. Lokanath seeks his first with a horse who has yet not raced beyond a mile. 

Two horses who have journeyed to the Garden City are Argiano and The Minsterian (Ace - Glorious Fantasy). The former has won twice on the Bangalore track but the latter will be having his first run. With six wins, Argiano has more brackets to his name than any of his rivals and they include the Calcutta Monsoon Derby, Gr.2 and the R.C.T.C. Vase over 2200 m. He was the sacrificial lamb of the powerful Khaitan stable in Calcutta where he ran a forward race in the Eveready Calcutta Derby, Gr.1. As the lone representative of the stable on Sunday, he gets a chance to show his true colours. The Ministerian comes from Mahalakshmi, having won his last start over 2000 m. in 2.2.92, a time which could have been faster as he won by eight lengths and was never pressed for an effort. His sire had his first black-type winner beyond a mile last Saturday while his dam, a daughter of Razeen, had a win over 2400 m. in her four victories. He is following the route taken by Red Baron and, what's more, comes with a better record.  

The only poor race that Czar of Romance has run recently was in the Deccan Bookmakers' Golconda 2000 Guineas, Gr.2 but he was just a shade over two lengths behind Agostini last time out when giving a kg. to the winner. He hasn't won for over six months and there are a few others whose pedigree is better suited to the distance. Ace Badraan's Sharmdal half-brother Shivalik Star is pure sprinter but his Halling half-sister Eastern Aria won the DBS Park Hill Stakes, Gr.2 over the St. Leger distance. Both Shamardal and Halling have far better staying credentials than Rebuttal who is yet to have a Classic winner from this crop. On his last start, Ace Badraan was beaten two lengths by Pursuit of Fame who was close fourth to Roses in Bloom at Malakpet on Sunday. Arrogant Approach (Carnival Dancer - Passion to Perform) is held by Supreme Regime on their last running and he is yet to give any returns in the three Classics that he has raced in. His dam was a good miler but there is a fair bit of stamina in her pedigree while Carnival Dancer, a son of Sadler's Wells, was a Gr.3 winner and Gr.1 placed over 2000 m. in England.  

In a space of about four months, Laguna Beach won five races at Malakpet, all at different distances, from 1600 m. to 2400 m. and started as the second favourite in Sur La Tete's Golconda Oaks where she ran disappointingly. Like Czar of Romance, she is owned by Mr. A.P. Thackersey so there is a possibility that she may be used as a pacemaker. Alfons de Borja (Noverre - Eketbaat) scored on his debut over 1200 m. and has placed in his two subsequent starts over 1400 m. and 1600 m. He is the least experienced of the runners in the contest. His full-sister Imperial Verse and half-sister Moonlight Beauty are winners in India upto 1400 m. while Moonlight Beauty's full-brother Malkovich has a win over 1700 m. in Germany to his credit. The unraced Ektebaat is a half-sister to Aqaleem who won the Totesport Derby Trial, Gr.3 and placed third in Vodafone Epsom Derby, Gr.1. Their dam is a half-sister to Alhaarth; this is essentially a family of top class milers.  


The name of one of the contestants has been missed out - Amazonas (Carnival Dancer - Allocate). Amazonas, trained by Satish Narredu, is a maiden after six starts but has been on the board four times. His dam is a full-sister to Royal Russian and a half-sister to Amathos, two winners of this very race in their respective years. Ridden by Mark Gallagher, Amathos was a comfortable winner at 6/1 in the Khaitan colours whereas Royal Russian (Franny Norton) came up trumps at 15/1 in the silks which Amazonas will carry on Sunday. Amathos and Royal Russian constitute the only pair of siblings to have won this race. Their dam Natashka was a half-sister to Premium Spirit, a winner of this race when it was called the Arc de Triomphe. 

Natashka's and Premium Spirit's dam Sweet Memories was herself a Classic winner, wading through fetlock- deep water on the Pune track to bag the Indian St. Leger, Gr.1 by a distance. Pashmina, the dam of Sweet Memories, did not win but was a half-sister to four Classic winners in Fair Haven, Mica Empress, Mica Emperor and Rock's Son. Their dam Tosca won the Indian 1000 Guineas, Gr.1 as well as the Indian Oaks, Gr.1. 

This is strongest stirp of the Stella Marina family which held a pre-eminent position in Indian breeding in the interregnum when there were hardly any imports. The established Indian families have lost ground in the last few years. This is not to commend the chances of Amazonas on Sunday about which the viewers are competent to make their own assessment. The colt, however, provided an opportunity to briefly highlight his heritage.