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By Shashank Dixit | 26 Apr 2019 |

Shashank Dixit

Since the Nilgiris Colts Trial Stakes was renamed “The Nilgiris 2000 Guineas (Gr.2)”, 6 horses across 11 runnings have gone on to accomplish the Guineas-Derby double. Topline (‘08), Precious Forever (‘11), Emperor’s Crown (’12), Marmaduke (’14), Battalion (’16) & Chief Of Command (’17) have got their names on the honors’ board of having achieved a double. Surprisingly, the 2011 winner, Precious Forever was a filly, who also has the rare distinction of being the only horse to complete The Nilgiris Classic Treble, having won the Nilgiris 1000 Guineas previously. That feat won’t be repeated, at least not this year, as The Nilgiris 1000 Guineas (Gr.3) winner Cape Kidnappers isn’t running and of coursethe race doesn’t feature any filly this year.

There are 11 horses that have thrown their hats in ring for the 12th edition and the highest rated Glorious Destiny (Saamidd – Perpetual Glory) deserves foremost mention. Though, Glorious Destiny started his career in the Chennai winter with two straight losses, he shed his maiden tag on Christmas Day with an incredible 8 ¼ length win at 1200m in his third start. However, he could only be second best in his next three runs, unable to hold the edge in the dying moments of the race.Note that all those three races were at 1400m. One of those three races was The Madras Gold Vase (Gr.3) where King T’chalawas ¾ lengths ahead of Glorious Destiny carrying level weights at 1400m. Glorious Destiny is coming fresh off a win in Ooty, where he defeated Royal Currency, who ran 3rd in The Nilgiris 1000 Guineas (Gr.3) on Sunday. What sets Glorious Destiny apart is his experience of 7 races and the fact that he has never run outside the first three places. This is Saamidd’s second crop and Glorious Destiny is probably his best 3-year-oldyet. Come Sunday, he will find himself in a 1400m race again, and this time against a relatively better set of horses.The short straightof the Ooty track is not kind to tardy horses that stay at the back of the field so Glorious Destiny would do well to assume the role of a front-runner. The eventual difference between a win or loss for him would be a suitable jockey.

The biggest threat to Glorious Destiny is likely to come from King T’chala (Arazan – Avec Plaisir)whofirst started in The Madras Club Cup in December, where he finished 4th behind Royal Currency, Butterfly & Glorious Destiny in that order. He then went down again to Royal Currency in The Christmas Cup (Gr.3) by 3 ¼ lengths. His first win came in next start at 1200m after which he beat Glorious Destiny in The Madras Gold Vase (Gr.3). Since that race, the terms, distance and weights are going to remain the same for Sunday and hence his ¾ length narrow victory might not be a reliable criterion to concede him advantage.Notably, King T’chala is the only horse in the field to have finished ahead of Glorious Destiny previously and hence the Guineas run might well be a direct bout between the two. King T’chala has two noteworthy siblings in Brahmachari (by Chevalier) & Turning Point (by Surfrider). Both of them are speedy types and have excelled at distances between 5f to 8f. King T’chala too will want to show a display of speed on the Ooty track.His sire Arazan sired a winner of this race two years ago with Chief Of Command.

“Third-dimension” is a term which is quite in use these days, and Castilian (Power – Oyster Reef) rightly appears to add a 3rddimension to this race. The Nanoli-bred western India challenger is the only got-abroad in the field. Castilian has run and won just once, last month in Mumbai, but his solitary win offers a lot to discuss. Castilian was in the rear half in the bunch of a dozen, but came up with a scintillating turn of foot in the last 300m, winning by 2 ¼ lengths in a smart timing of 1:11.00. A juvenile winning in that timing at Mahalaxmi deserves respect, more so in a race like this. He defeated some classic prospects in that race like Mirabilis and Belenus and can well be a worthy part of that list of classic prospects.

These are indications that Castilian is much more worthy than just being a called a one-race-winner. The gap of class between the horses in Mumbai and other centres, particularly Chennai / Ooty is well known to everyone and hence the onus will be on Castilian to prove it on Sunday.He is the second progeny of Power in the country.Power, who won the Irish 2000 Guineas (Gr.1) in 2012, retired to Coolmore Stud in Ireland he has since been relocated toOakland Stud in New Zealand.

Breaking Bounds (Tazahum – Dear Liza) is a winner of two out of five starts. He won over 1200m at Chennai by 5 lengths in January and then again by 2 lengths at 1400m the next month. However, Breaking Bounds gave a pale display in subsequent runs. His half-sister Oh Dear won over 1100m and 1200m in Hyderabad. He is rated 50, which is a decent figure considering the age and time of the year. Breaking Bounds has hit the board in all his starts and should not go down without a fight.

Royal Chieftain (Saamidd – Reina De Mexico) started off impressively with two wins in two starts at 1000m and 1200m respectivelyhowever has been out of sorts since those two early wins having lost his next three starts. Winless since early December and for a centre where even juvenile horses run frequently, such a long gap doesn’t inspire confidence. Nonetheless, one can never keep the colours of the late Dr. MAM Ramaswamy out of contention, more so with his trainer R Foley who has won this race a record 9 times out of 11. 

Another outstation challenger is Yours Forever (Arazan – Yutai). Although he has not won in his three starts, he has finished 2nd on two occasions. He was a short-priced favourite in maiden race but went down by ½ length to Sporting Smile. Later, he was 5th to Blazer, who went on to win The Alcock Arabian Million (Gr.3). He finished second again to Mumbai basedDivine Glory by 2 ½ lengths. Yours Forever has only run in Hyderabad and will be up against a fresh set of horses in the Guineas. He is a full-brother to black type Eternal Flame who won at distances between 6f & 8f. Yours Forever’s pedigree surely makes him a dark horse for Sunday.

Dominant (Kingda Ka – Carousel) won his first start with sheer dominance by 7½ lengths at Chennai. However, he failed miserably in his next 5 runs, finishing in top three just once.His half-sister won The South India Oaks (Gr.1) and The Bangalore 1000 Guineas (Gr.2). Last Sunday, Cape Kidnappers, a daughter of Abbeyside won The Nilgiris 1000 Guineas (Gr.3). Only Always A Rainbow has achieved the Guineas double at Ooty, and surprisingly five times. Wise Don (Abbeyside – Actual) will carry Abbeyside’s hopes but a win seems a far-fetched thought since Wise Don has almost always run way behind the winners.

There are three others that are still maidens though have placed on occasion. Monte Rei (Air Support – Summer Wine) who has run thrice at Hyderabad, R. Foley’ssecond runner in Otus (Kingda Ka – Golden Bright) who is winless in two starts andRoyal Brigade (Corporate Jungle – La Bella Vita) who ran 5 times in Chennai, finishing in the money thrice.     
The Nilgiris 2000 Guineas (Gr.2) therefore, is likely to be a three-way contest between Glorious Destiny, King T’chala and Castilian. This race will be a good indicator for The Nilgiris Derby (Gr.1), to be run on 12th May.