• 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.)
Thursday 19 Jun 2014
Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)

This Sunday's Bangalore Colts' Trial Stakes, Gr.1 ought to bring joy to those who love seeing a good horse in action. It is unlikely, though, to enrich many pockets because in all probability Be Safe will start at very cramped odds and prohibit a bet.

Generally speaking, the colts have been more generous and reliable -in comparison to the fairer sex in their race -with 18 favourites having brought home the bacon in the last 40 runnings, four of them in last ten years. The shortest priced favourite to win has been Camino who started at 10 to 3 on and romped home under Vasant Shinde to win by five lengths. As far as memory can be trusted, only one odds-on favourite has ever been beaten in recent years and that was Aboline. Sunday's race has seven runners which is the smallest field since Southern Empire's race in 2006. It contains three got-abroads, two who haven't raced in the current season, two who have won their only starts so far, one who will be making his debut while no runner has yet won over a mile

Be Safe's credentials are impeccable. He should have been unbeaten going into this race but for his much debated defeat in the Poonawalla Breeders' Multi-Million, Gr.1  He is a  winner of  two black-type races. What gives him an aura of invincibility is the fact that he has twice beaten Maisha who won the fillies' race so comfortably. When the two met last time in May, Dr. Ramaswamy's colt gave the filly 5.5 kgs and beat her by nearly four lengths. Maisha has been rated 80 after her latest win and on a line through her Be Safe should  be on a three figure mark though the Handicapper has him at 89.

Be Safe (Holy Roman Emperor - Oriental Lady), bred at the Hazara Stud, bids fair to  become the sixth 'got-abroad' winner of the race. His sire was a brilliant 2YO who was denied a chance of Classic glory, being whisked off to Coolmore Stud to replace the infertile George Washington. He has been reasonably successful and though Racing Post remarks that he has "a good record with fillies", his top three runners are geldings. Holy Roman Emperor has already had a Classic winner in India through Smashing.

Oriental Lady was picked up for a mere 8,000 gns by Hugo Merry Bloodstock for Hazara Stud at Tattersalls in 2010. Considering that Holy Roman Emperor's covering fee in 2009 was 25,000 euros, that was a real bargain. The mare raced just four times in France in the Wildenstein colours and trainer E. Lellouche got her to win a race over 2400 m. at 3. Her only foal to race abroad is a filly called Beacon Lady who has won seven races including six over 2400 m. The next three dams -Otaiti, Ode and Ouro Verde - are all black-type winners, the last named being a Cool Moon  half-sister to Sanctus, a winner of the Prix du Jockey Club, Gr.1 and a successful sire. The line goes back to Plucky Liege, the dam of four outstanding stallions in Bull Dog, Sir Gallahad III, Admiral Drake and Bois Roussel. Be Safe won't be short of stamina even over much longer distances.

There are two other 'got-abroads' in the field and one of them is Silver Phantom (Verglas - Flamands) who is a winner of the Godolphin Barb Stakes, Gr.3 on his sole start so far. He is, thus, unbeaten. Verglas is a successful sire abroad and in India he has had Versaki (Nanoli Stud Pune Derby, Gr.1) and the talented but claustrophobic Silver Arrow. His dam is a winning Sadler's Wells mare from an excellent family and a full-sister to two Listed winners. The grey is well-bred enough but has not had a race for four months and it is doubtful if he will step out sharp enough for a contest of this nature.

Sir Michael Stoute trained Jeremy to win the Betfred Mile, Gr.2 and the horse was retired to Irish National Stud. Failing to come up to expectations, he was passed on to Garryrichard Stud and promptly produced the dual Derby winner Jeremiah in India. In the meantime, he has shown promise as a dual purpose sire. His son Vijay Viraaj (out of Linette), trained by L.V.R.Deshmukh, has won twice from three starts. Bred like Silver Phantom at the Capricorn Stud, Vijay Viraaj comes from a stout German line and will appreciate longer distances.

The dam of Last Chance (Ace - Lady Angharad) is a Listed winner in England, Lady Angharad has also produced Barefoot Lady, a winner of Lanwades Stud Nell Gwynn Stakes, Gr.3 and she placed third in the Coronation Stakes, Gr.1 at Royal Ascot within three lengths of the winner Immortal Verse. Last Chance, Lady Angharad's first foal in India, won his first race on his fourth start last month in Bangalore.

The great Razeen's crops conceived in the later stages of a glittering career have been rather ordinary; it is nearly two years since he had a Classic win. His son Medinah hasn't started this season and that is a further handicap. Soviet Union has won his one start so far and will carry the Mallya colours while Prize Finder is yet to race. One wonders if his trainer has left him in by mistake like J. Shravanan last week.

The hefty purse appears at the mercy of Be Safe and others will be grateful to pick up any loose change he drops. Mallesh Narredu is yet to win a Gr.1 Classic  as a trainer and his nephew Suraj's record in big races has been uninspiring of late. Be Safe, on his running so far, looks good enough to overcome those shortcomings.


The great English trainer Matt Dawson trained 28 Classic winners in the second half of the 19th century. It is well to remember that there are only five Classics in England unlike India where there are nearly 40. Dawson once said that the races he liked best were the ones where some other trainer's horse was considered unbeatable. In such races, if he had a horse most likely to win if the super horse was not running, he did not hesitate to take on the short-priced favourite. "Don't ever get put off by one horse" was his maxim. He believed that anything can happen in a race and only if you had a horse running were you in a position to take advantage of the unexpected. Not that he always slayed the public fancy but the times that he did gave him immense pleasure.

When Aggressor ended Petite Etoile's nine-in-a-row streak at Ascot in the King George VI & Queen Elizabth II Stakes there was utter consternation in the large crowd. All that the grey filly's owner Prince Aly Khan could utter was,"But she not supposed to be beaten !".

Whenever there is a debate about the best Indian-bred horse ever, several names  come up but one horse who is certain to garner a lot of support is Squanderer. Squanderer won 18 of his 19 races.The only race in which he was beaten was the Bangalore Colts' Trial Stakes he where started as the favourite and finished third behind Red Satin and King of Seers !