The Gr 1 Kingfisher Ultra Derby, the biggest event of Bangalore Summer Racing Calendar which will be run on Sunday presents an intriguing look and predicting the outcome of the race is a big challenge though all the facts are known. It is like trying to see the invisible through the visible. There are a few formidable contenders who have strong credentials to win the race but it is difficult to be emphatic in one`s assertions because there are certain question marks that need to be cleared.
Bharath Singh trained Castlebridge recorded an outstanding win in the Gr 1 Colts Championship Stakes in the best timing clocked for this event. The timing of one minute 36.1 seconds clocked by the winner would have qualified as a record if only the timings recorded post the introduction of the electronic timer was only considered. Castlebridge swept everyone off their feet and still had something in reserve when passing the winning post well clear of Perfect Star and Olympia Fields. On the evidence of that win, Castlebridge should get the status of being a firm favorite. The progeny of Burden of Proof out of Castle Queen is a final entry for the race by paying a whopping amount. If there are no issues about Castlebridge getting the extra two furlongs with equal felicity, then there is no need to look beyond him for identifying the winner. However, in racing things don`t work out so easily and as such, one has to wait and see how well the Colts champion tackles the extended trip. The fact that Trevor Patel has chosen the horse in preference to the highly talented Shaman indicates that Castlebridge should be given due respect. The Kingfisher Derby has often been won by brilliant milers like Aboline and Serjeant At Arms and as such, Castlebridge would be a force to reckon with if one discounts the fact that full brother to the fancied runner namely Castle Key turned out to be a pure sprinter.
Arjun Mangalorkar trained Olympia Fields is no doubt a very strong contender for the race. The progeny of first season stallion Western Aristocrat out of dual Derby winning Abs Fabs has been outstanding in his workouts. He was trifle unlucky in the Colts Championship because the big field and the wide outside draw meant that he had to be tucked behind the field in the rear. Though he made rapid strides in the straight, the effort of covering a big leeway told on his energy and he lost the runner-up position to Perfect Star by a whisker. Olympia Fields should have no issues about the extended trip as his dam was stoutly bred to stay. Olympia Fields has been working brilliantly and it would be no surprise if he pulls off the big one for trainer Arjun Mangalorkar.
Karthik Ganapathy trained Perfect Star was finishing on well in the Colts Championship. By another first season stallion Excellent Art out of Indian 1000 Guineas winning mare Free Radical, Perfect Star is a capable performer whose true potential is yet to be established fully. Perfect Star will be fancied strongly by the connections and there is a lot at stake for the breeders who are pinning their hopes on the revival of their fortunes through their new stallion.
Robert Foley trained Chief of Command blotted his copybook after a series of wins including the success at Nilgiris Derby. Chief of Command was inconvenienced by a bad draw as also by the fact that he was subjected to a great deal of work prior to the race. Chief of Command was done in by the pace of the race as he struggled to stay in touch with the field and performed poorly. The Derby will not be run at a frenetic pace and this might suit the progeny of Arazan perform much better than the effort in the Colts Championship.
There are three other Colts namely Shaman, Angel Power and Zenon who are being thought of highly by their respective connections. Shaman recorded a stylish win over nine furlongs and he is being thrown at the deep end with strong conviction. Angel Power is a full brother to Angel Dust who surprised in this event a few years ago. Zenon has been thought of highly by trainer Pesi Shroff though he is still to mature into a strong performer.
Manifold who won the Fillies Championship Stakes has been kept in fine trim. Pesi Shroff believes that the filly has an excellent chance. ``Manifold performed very well in the Fillies Championship and at this point in time, she has as good a chance to win the plum event as the other main contenders who could be identified as Castlebridge, Shaman, Angel Power and Olympia Fields.`` Pesi also has another hopeful in the Derby in Windsor Forest who ran a mighty race and finished a close third to Manifold despite suffering interference at a crucial stage of the race.
In the final analysis, it is the Colts which are expected to dominate with Manifold shaping as the biggest threat to their supremacy.