Looking Forward to a Classic Weekend at the Mahalaxmi Race Course
This weekend will see the running of the first two classics of the Indian horse racing calendar at the Mahalakshmi Race Course in Mumbai at the Royal Western India Turf Club.
Representative Image. (Image Credits/rwitc.com)
Come November and the ears of racing aficionados prick up, like those of alert equines, to the rhythmic thudding of hooves at the Mahalaxmi race course.
For reasons, as yet unexplained, these sounds picked up by one section of Mumbai’s society are heard by another with a much delayed effect, with the rest responding to the neighing only in time for the 1st classic of the season, in December.
While the Indian 1000 and 2000 Guineas admittedly do not have the hype and hoopla of the Derby, those who take the trouble to make their way to the races this Saturday will witness a 1000 Guineas that has whipped up more pre-race buzz than any other in recent memory.
The Spartan Poker Indian 1000 Guineas.
With the terms restricting the running only to fillies, it is not surprising that the cause of the unusual excitement this year is a Lady — A Lady in Lace.
With a part share in her ownership always being available, Lady in Lace announced her arrival in Western India by winning the Pune Derby by such a widening distance, she made horse owners, with the deepest pockets, pull out the dollars with a speed and dexterity that would make any self-respecting pickpocket gape in disbelief.
The first one out with the money, reportedly in record timing, was Shapoor Mistry. His investment has already paid a handsome initial dividend, with the filly winning the Golconda 1000 Guineas last month.
Where there are ladies there will always be one upmanship, if the term may be used in reference to ladies, and Lady in Lace has her work cut out by the petite Ruffina.
Ruffina isn’t just the winner of the Poonawalla Breeders Multimillion, but has won twice after. Both times a glittering crown replacing the medical cloud hanging over her head.
With David Allan sanguine about Ruffina’s chances, she has clearly consumed her fair share of apples this time and kept the doctors away.
Even as supporters divide themselves into “Camp L.I.L” and “Camp Ruffina”, seasoned railbirds would be mindful of the ‘glorious uncertainties of racing’; and Manifold could reverse her loss to Lady in Lace and win.
If this was to happen, it would still be a Lady, who would have the last laugh along with her co-owner Berjis Desai, and winning with Manifold will add to Ameeta Mehra’s pleasure many fold.
The Jacqueline Indian 2000 Guineas
Those who come racing on Sunday should count themselves lucky to see a horse of the caliber of Castlebridge race, especially with Serjeant at Arms getting his green card and migrating to the US of A.
While The Serjeant will go down in history as one of the finest milers to grace the tracks in India, it is as possible as it is unbelievable, that Castlebridge may well better the towering achievements of The Serjeant.
Castlebridge has not only won the Bangalore Colts but even the Mysore Guineas. He is also the first Indian horse to run 2000 meters in under 2:00 minutes while winning the Mysore Derby.
A walk in the park in the Morvi earlier this season has only further tightened his vice like grip on the 2000.
Castlebridge, rated 94, will have his closest competitor in Mygrator at 85 but the fact of the matter is that any competition to him is only theoretical.
Ratings aside, Castlebridge’s victory might bring a wry smile to the face of Indian racing’s most sporting owner. The King of Good Times should chill a couple of bottles of the best in advance.
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