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By Mahendra Mallya | 22 Dec 2013 | MUMBAI

Murioi (B Sreekanth Up), winner of The Deltin Casinos Indian 2000 Guineas (Gr.1)

Whatever the temperament that Murioi possesses, it’s evident that he loves the Mahalaxmi track. Believed to be bullish, temperamental, and unpredictable too, Murioi certainly is at his best on the Mumbai turf. He proved that amply when he rocketed past Alaindair in the final furlong to conquer the Deltin Casinos Indian 2000 Guineas (Gr1) with commendable authority, making top notch three-year-olds look ordinary. Murioi himself had performed badly in the Bangalore Summer classics, where Alaindair snubbed him twice in succession in the Colts’ and in the Kingfisher Derby.

“We were disappointed with his shocking losses in Bangalore this summer,” said trainer S Ganapathy in the post-race interview. “I can’t pinpoint the exact reason for his poor performance then. I feel the inclement weather and the wet going had left him uncomfortable if not disheartened. He traveled well to Mumbai and once here, he looked in great shape in no time. He showed out in the morning trials and that was a confidence booster. After his victory in the Sir HM Mehta Million, it was clear that he had bounced back to his best. Deep down I was confident that he would win; however, the manner in which he did was very pleasing.”

An unfortunate mishap at the gates robbed the spectators of some suspense as hot contender Silver Arrow reared up and flipped inside the gates. It looked a nasty fall that Silver Arrow sustained and he had to be withdrawn. Silver Arrow, who had a string of victories behind, had a strong following as well, and this incident left many disappointed. Scenic Warrior, the other horse owned by Dr MAM Ramaswamy planted at the gates and veered to the left when he did jump out, taking no active part in the race.

 Silver Streak set a scorching pace and had Alaindair in close attendance once they settled down. Murioi and Falcon followed the pair in front about two or three lengths away, with Mariinsky and Dynamo holding themselves back and Falco Nero at the tail-end.

Jockey A Sandesh got aggressive and tried the runaway tactics that had yielded positive results in Bangalore and made the bold move to stretch past Silver Streak early in the long Mumbai straight. Jockey Sreekanth increased the tempo with a measured release and Murioi started to gain on Alaindair with about 300 to go. Mariinsky too shifted gears, but Alaindair’s quick move may have forced jockey Zervan to hurry the filly earlier than the drawing board plans.

Nothing was going to stop Murioi though. He was charging up the straight and within strides had cleared the deficit to join alongside Alaindair. Sandesh was all out on Alaindair but that was not going to be enough. Murioi was steaming in with a powerful gallop and in split seconds tore away and ahead of Alaindair. He clocked an impressive 1:35:52. Alaindair was squarely beaten as was Mariinsky.  Murioi had certainly towered over the rest. There is no reason to believe that Murioi would be suspect over the Derby trip and this was echoed by his illustrious owner Dr MAM Ramaswamy, whose tally of Classic trophies rose to a whopping 574.

“Murioi’s victory has confirmed my opinion about his class and ability. Although the start to his career was not ideal, I had recognized his potential and that gut feeling prompted me to send him to Mumbai for the Poonawalla Breeders’ Multi-Million. He is a strong and talented colt and I am convinced he can stay till the cows come home,” said Dr MAM Ramaswamy over the phone to Indiarace.

Jockey Sreekanth was delighted with the strong statement that Murioi made on the track. “He was simply too good. He had settled beautifully and was focused on the task. Even when Alaindair quickened early in the straight, I didn’t feel the need to start my chase impulsively. I gave him the go just when he showed his keenness to surge. He did the rest on his own. It is premature for me to say anything what lies ahead. Boss (Dr MAM) will take a call on this,” said Sreekanth. Asked what he felt about Murioi staying the Derby distance, Sreekanth said, “His class is obvious and his turn of foot is brilliant as you saw. I can say that the Derby distance is well within his range.”

Mr Ashish Kapadia, Managing Director Deltin Casinos, awarded the winning connections the trophy along with Mr Jaydev Mody. Trainer S Ganapathy received the trophy on behalf of Dr MAM Ramaswamy. The Chairman of the RWITC, Vivek Jain, extended the courtesies in appreciating the contribution of Deltin Casinos and expressed gratitude on behalf of the Club, to the sponsors of the first two Indian Classics. 

Murioi was dazzling when he got past Alaindair the way he did. Alaindair is a dual Classic winner and on top of his game at the moment. Murioi outclassed his closest rival with authority and it will be a tough task for the runner-up to turn tables on his conqueror in the Derby, the distance notwithstanding. He will race once before the Derby now for his final prep before the big one and going by his display in the Deltin Casinos Indian 2000 Guineas, he certainly comes about as the one to beat in the Derby. The suspense element, however, one can’t take away from a race as fiercely fought as the McDowell Signature Premier Indian Derby (Gr1). Jeremiah and Silver Arrow, hitherto unextended in their respective string of successes, are ideal candidates to keep the ‘mystery factor’ alive for the greatest race of the land!