Rajesh Narredu trained Star Superior who scored an outstanding win in the Gr 1 Indian Derby has an excellent chance of winning the Gr 1 Indian Turf Invitation Cup. The quality of the victory was impressive, and the progeny of Excellent Art has maintained his form and fitness as evidenced by the workouts. In the words of Jockey Suraj Narredu, ``Star Superior is in superb shape and I believe that he has progressed further. I expect Star Superior to win though there could be a strong challenge from Adjudicate, Desert God and Smasher.``
Star Superior`s emphatic performance has silenced all those who believed that he had issues with tackling the extended trip of a mile and a half. I have always believed that performance is the proof of the pedigree and mere pedigree is not going to help. Star Superior has the pedigree of a top-notch horse and his accomplishments thus far speak glowingly about the talent of the champion horse as also the Team Narredus. Trainer Rajesh deserves rich compliments for obtaining the kind of results that he has from Star Superior. Star Superior will go to the post as a strong favourite as the others in the field among his contemporaries have some catching up to do.
Among the four-year-olds that deserve healthy respect is James McKeown trained Adjudicate. The filly was a revelation at Kolkata winning both the Guineas and the Derby in an outstanding manner. The filly did not travel well and lost condition and had a bout of fever. These all these hiccups, Adjudicate ran a game second. The filly is in much better shape and should give a better account of herself with veteran jockey Y S Srinath in the saddle.
James McKeown said that Adjudicate was doing extremely well and he expects her to run a great race. ``Adjudicate is working well and has taken the travel and has taken the gruelling races well. My only fear is the hot conditions that could affect a filly at the fag end of the racing season for the year. I expect Adjudicate to be fighting it out with Star Superior and Desert God.``
The Invitation Cup was thrown open for older horses in the year 2013 at Kolkata but so far, no older horse has won this event. Champion horse Quasar was beaten by Desert God when conceding four kgs. After much resistance, the terms of the race have been changed by the Turf Authorities of India with the older horses set to give only two kgs to the four-year-olds. This has brought down the difference between the generations of horses. Strictly speaking, the race would have been more exciting if the four-year-olds and the older horses were competing at level weights. Last year, Temerity came very close to toppling Kangra but was beaten by a narrow margin. This year we have two older horses with immense value competing in the race to enhance the thrill of the race.
Padmanabhan trained Desert God who is the highest stakes-earner in the history of Indian racing bounced back to winning form after a listless performance in England by winning the Bangalore St Leger and the President of India Gold Cup at Hyderabad asserting his undoubted class. He was affected by a bout of colic and missed action for the most part of the winter season. He was seen in action in the Eclipse Stakes of India at Mumbai on the Indian Derby day and raced after 105 days. He was conceding 10 kgs to Smasher who was in great form and was beaten by four lengths. Now both will be running at level weights and the run benefit would have further sharpened the veteran for the tough battle. Hyderabad has been a happy hunting ground for Desert God, and it is here that he announced his arrival as a horse of outstanding merit by winning the Deccan Derby and has remained his unbeaten status on this track thus far. David Allan has chosen to ride him ahead of Indian Pharaoh who last month won the Golconda Derby.
Trainer Padmanabhan believes that Desert God is his best runner among the six horses that he is running during the weekend. ``Desert Gold has been working well and I expect him to run a great race. Indian Pharaoh is not a great workhorse, but he has always performed on the race track and he should also put up a grand show. Star Superior is the horse everyone must beat,`` he said.
Pesi Shroff-trained Smasher appears to be a late bloomer and he won the races at Mumbai over long distances in amazing fashion. The progeny of Multidimensional struck form during this winter season and won over a mile and a half in the timing which was approximated by Star Superior in the Derby. Smasher went on to beat Desert God albeit in receipt of 10 kgs by a margin of four lengths which should certainly enhance his reputation. Though he will be running on level terms with Desert God, the kind of form that he has struck, he should be a hard nut to crack.
Nityanand trained The Invader surpassed all expectations by the decisive way he beat the opposition in the Gr 1 Bangalore Derby. The progeny of Total Gallery has maintained his form and fitness. However, he will be meeting horses of elite calibre and his task is seen as a very difficult one though in racing has a way of repeatedly springing surprises.
Dallas Todywalla trained Ruffina bids to win the Gr 1 Sprinters Cup back to back. She is undoubtedly the best sprinter in the country and should not find it difficult to win. Ruffina missed the Dr S C Jain Sprinters Cup because of a slight injury. However, her subsequent workouts indicate that all is well with her. If she has no hiccups, nobody in the field can beat her. If she falters for any reason, there are many horses which can profit. They include Mauritania, Captain Courage, Corfe Castle and Tutankhamun.
The Gr 1 Maj P K Mehra Super Mile should produce an interesting contest. The top sprinter-miler at his prime, Serjeant At Arms is not the same horse after his sojourn at the USA. His first appearance after the benefit of a few mock races was not productive at Mumbai when he went down tamely to New England. He has improved since that run, but he is not going to have things easy and he has to be at his best to win this race for the second time in his career, after having won this race two years ago at Bangalore. Suraj Narredu believes that last year`s winner at Kolkata, Whomakestherules is in tremendous form and anyone one hoping to win should keep this horse at bay. ``Whomakestherules is in great shape and I am pretty confident that my horse will deliver the goods,`` said the jockey. New England who beat Serjeant At Arms at Mumbai is another horse to watch. Isn`t She Lovely who failed to run well at Mumbai but did well to finish second best in the Bangalore Derby is another who could prove a handful. Rikki Tikki Tavi is a capable contender while Golconda 2000 Guineas Corfe Castle will be seen in action for the second day running after taking a shot at the Sprinters Cup.
The Gr 1 Dr M A M Ramaswamy Memorial Stayers Cup has a fairly big field, but none stand out as being outstanding. Pesi Shroff-trained Sacred Roman who finished fourth in the Indian Derby should be the obvious horse as he looks a good staying type of a horse. Local challenger Reunion, Mumbai`s consistent performer Raees, Bangalore`s Watchmyscript and Nanhipari should be competitive.