Captain Morgan may call shots

Racing Invitation Cup weekend: Attaollahi-ward fancied for Stayers' Cup; Dancing Prances for Sprinters' Cup

Captain Morgan may call shots
One of the premier racing centres in the country, perhaps second only to Mumbai, the Bangalore Turf Club has set the stage wonderfully for its biggest extravaganza of the year — the Indian Turf Invitation Cup weekend.

A spruced up venue is set to welcome the best horses in the country with a total stake money of Rs 5.1 crore on offer over two days of the carnival, which will also include the annual awards night on Saturday.

The biggest event of the two-day bash — dubbed meeting of champion of champions in the racing fraternity — is the Indian Turf Invitation Cup on Sunday but three more Grade I races will be held prior to it with two major battles set to be fought on Saturday.

The first major bout will see 11 horses vie for the honour of ‘endurance champion’ as they hit the gates in the Dr M A M Ramaswamy Chettiar of Chettinad Memorial Stayers’ Cup, a race that will be run over a lung-busting 3000-metre distance.

Surprisingly, a vast majority of the horses in the field have not run that punishing distance in a proper race but after a thorough look at all the contenders, young Captain Morgan emer­ges as the top pick in the Rs 50 lakh prize money event.

To be ridden by P Trevor and trained by S S Attaollahi, the four-year colt has age and a bit of form on his side. Winner of last month’s South India St Leger in Chennai, Captain Morgan has tasted victory just three times in 10 starts but his consistent showing since the start of his career last year prompts one to place more money on him.

Looking to reclaim pride would be Tintinnabulation (P S Chouhan astride). Winner of Indian Turf Invitation Cup in 2013, the eight-year-old geld, almost written off, put himself back in contention with a fine run (fourth place) in the Stayers Trial Stakes here last month. The most accomplished horse among the competing lot, Tintinnabulation and Chouhan could be on course for another crowning moment.

Booker Jones (David Allan up), who finished a place ahead of Tintinnabulation in Stayers Trial Stakes, is another experienced horse that knows what it takes to emerge champion. Arlene (Neeraj Rawal), Triumphus (Dashrath S) and Shivalik Heroine (Suraj Narredu up) also have the potential to grab the spoils but Captain Morgan’s youthful energy and Tintinnabulation’s pedigree make them the ones to watch out for.

The Mysore Race Club Spinters’ Cup, to be contested over 1200 metres, also has a near similar feel with a marginal favourite and a clutch of contenders capable of wearing the ‘fastest horse’ crown.

Leading the 17-horse field is Dancing Prances, to be ridden A Imran Khan. A three-time winner of  Dr S C Jain Sprinters' Championship -- considered a prelude to the big one -- last month, Dancing Prances has the speed and skill to conquer all. What holds the seven-year geld back though is bad luck. He has competed in the Sprinters’ Cup twice before but only managed a best finish of second place. Imran, aware this could be Dancing Prances’ last attempt, will need to counter all that from a difficult gate 13.

Your Royal Majesty (P Trevor) came third in the Dr S C Jain Sprinters' Championship. He was second in the Calcutta Champions Sprint Trophy and another good outing could be his big moment under the sun.

Gold Bag (CS Jodha) too offers plenty of promise as does 2015 winner Solomon (Suraj Narredu), Mickey Mouse (Imran Chisty) and Renee (A Sandesh). Adam (N S Parmar), the defending champion, is probably the dark horse. Although the geld is seven years old, he has still got the muscle and energy and being blessed with a favourable draw (gate 2), he could very well add a special twist to the festivities.

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