Hall Of Famer best bet for the big prize

Racing Indian Turf Invitation Cup

Hall Of Famer best bet for the big prize

 In an event as massive as the Indian Turf Invitation Cup — a race meant only for the elite — picking a winner should actually be the most arduous of tasks.

It’s a field of the highest quality with each horse being a champion in his or her own right. However, thanks to her sizzling run of form and two exceptional hands nurturing her — on and off track —  Hall Of Famer sticks out as the clear cut favourite for the 2400-metre marquee event which bears an young versus old theme.

Trained by five-time Invitation Cup winner S Padmanabhan and top jockey David Allan, the four-year-old filly made a huge statement in the Kingfisher Ultra Indian Derby exactly a month ago by scoring a brilliant one-length win over pre-race favourite Serjeant At Arms.

Coming into that race on the back of a win in the Calcutta Derby Stakes, Allan guided Hall Of Famer to a win that was nothing short of electrifying. Allan gambled upon taking the lead at the very turn itself and then extended it to a healthy margin at the halfway stage itself. Such a strategy has the potential to backfire considering the length of the race and it seemed to unfold that way as Serjeant At Arms rallied. However, Hall Of Famer showed her lasting power to hold off Serjeant At Arms and script a jaw-dropping win.

With owners of Serjeant At Arms choosing to enrol her in the preceding Maj P K Mehra Super Mile Cup — the third of the four Grade I races — Hall Of Famer will be the horse to beat in the Rs 1.55 crore plum event.

“I think she has done exceptionally well in the last 3 or 4 months,” said Padmanabhan, whose Desert God won the big bash last year in Chennai. “She has travelled across India. She went to Hyderabad, Mysuru, Mumbai and Kolkata, then came back to Bengaluru and went back to Mumbai. Everywhere she has has performed well. I’m quite optimistic of her chances. Her main danger would be Temerity and Winter Renaissance.”

What could hold Hall Of Famer back in this sport of glorious uncertainties is fatigue. Between October and now, she has travelled nearly 9500 kms and that weariness could play a part although she’s had a month to recover.

Temerity, to be ridden by Neeraj Rawal, also impressed everyone at the Indian Derby where she finished third. If Rawal and trainer Pesi Shroff, one of the most successful jockeys in his time, can devise a clever strategy, Temerity has the potential to steal the big prize.

Winter Renaissance (C S Jodha), among the six in the 12-horse field who competed in the Indian Derby, has won only once in seven starts but if things go awry for big guns then the filly has the potential to create a stir. The same applies for Bangalore Winter Derby winner Tororosso (Suraj Narredu up).

There is a bunch of old horses who will be vying for supremacy and leading that group is 2014 champion Alaindair. The seven-year old geld has won the Bangalore Summer Derby (2013) and Indian Derby (2014) and with the same jockey Y S Srinath set to pilot him, Alaindair looks reclaim his throne.

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