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The Indian Guineas - A Weekend Of Favourites

Poetic justice in horse racing, as in life, is a coveted rarity and getting it twice over a weekend is as unusual as a hurricane delaying a race from a scheduled Sunday to the following Saturday.

Shiven Surendranath |

Updated:December 19, 2017, 4:52 PM IST
The Indian Guineas - A Weekend Of Favourites
Horse racing in action.
New Delhi: Poetic justice in horse racing, as in life, is a coveted rarity and getting it twice over a weekend is as unusual as a hurricane delaying a race from a scheduled Sunday to the following Saturday.

While Hurricane Okchi rained on the first classic parade of the season, the victory of Lady in Lace in the Indian 1000 Guineas and Castlebridge in the Indian 2000 Guineas ensured poetic justice for their connections, even if not for the rumormongers doing what they do best before a race.

The Spartan Poker Indian 1000 Guineas, Gr 1

Bad news, as well known, travels fast and racing whatsapp groups were abuzz with updates regarding Lady In Lace. One read the worst, as a colic had supposedly gotten the better of her. A cross check with the trainer revealed there were only sick minds at work, the filly was hale and hearty.

With three of the nine runners in the field, i.e. Ice Dancer, Windsor Forest and Lady In Lace, supporting the popular ‘claret, gold epaulettes’, it was clear that the connections had sat through their share of strategy meetings . What went unnoticed was the silent hand Okchi played to ensure that the best-laid schemes o’ Manjri’s mice an’ men , did not, gang aft agley.

Ice Dancer hit the front with Manifold in chase to set up things to a nicety for Lady In Lace. Her closest threat, Ruffina, raced third but was tossing her head like an angry diva at a beauty parlour.

Somewhere in mid bunch was Windsor Forest, and lying last under an almost overconfident Suraj Narredu was Lady in Lace.

By the middle of the race Ruffina had settled. Now she had to stay. Nothing else had changed significantly.

“With 400 metres to go”, Lady in Lace came on to Windsor Forest. Unfortunately for Windsor Forest , this wasn’t the only hindrance she would face. 200 meters later Manifold veered out and Lady In Lace moved in almost in tandem, squeezing out Windsor Forest and forcing her to check her stride .

Meanwhile,at the 100 meter marker, Ruffina’s worst fears came true , she would not stay in the most important race of her life.

But the Indian 1000 Guineas wasn’t in The Lady's bag yet. It must have been alarming for her to see Windsor Forest motoring towards her. While there wasn't a bell at hand to save The Lady, she fortunately found a winning post and held on to win. But just.

As for the silent hand played by Okchi? It's anybody’s guess who the most grateful is for the five extra days of rest,between the Golconda 1000 Guineas and the Indian 1000,it provided - the owners, the trainer, the jockey, the breeder, the thousands of punters who backed her or The Lady herself.

Some R & R should add back the distance between Lady In Lace and the others once again. While ‘audaces fortuna iuvat’ is fine, one is sure her astute trainer knows better than anyone else that fortune also prefers the prepared mind.

The Jacqueline Indian 2000 Guineas, Gr 1

A return of 14 paise on the wager of 1 rupee sums the story of the 2000 Guineas .The favourite, Castlebridge, obliged as expected, going starting gate to winning post with no one matching his strides.

While being the pick of the runners from the two Guineas, Castlebridge,seems to have lost some of his sparkle. He will need to be more than at his fittest if he has the Indian Derby in his sight. The long Mumbai straight and an in form Prevalent Force are bound to test him to his limits.
Castlebridge may also well be the last of the great champions owned by Vijay Mallya. If providence has it that Castlebridge wins the Indian Derby for him it will be poetic justice in more ways than one .The Indian Derby is a power brand today largely due to his passion and support.

| Edited by: Arjit Dabas
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