Sulaiman Attaollahi who is enjoying a good run, had an unexpected classic coming his way when his ward Angelico showed appreciable improvement when staving off the strong bid of All Attractive to win the Gr 2 South India 2000 Guineas, the second classic of the Madras Racing Season held on Friday. A day earlier, Pesi Shroff trained Alicia who had already won the Nilgiris Derby on the same track a couple of months back, once again proving her superiority while claiming the South Indian 1000 Guineas, with a fair degree of ease.
With the completion of the two Guineas, the Derby picture is more or less clear unless the Oaks scheduled over the next week throws a new challenger. As of now, Alicia appears to have stout credentials considering that she seems adept at getting the longer trip besides the fact that she is very experienced. All Attractive who went down fighting is another horse to note for the Derby. All Attractive had finished second to Alicia despite his relative inexperience in the Nilgiris Derby. He appears to stay better because on both occasions, he finished second best, he looked one-paced but stayed on strongly. It remains to be seen if Angelico gets the longer trips. His full sister Inkonito won a couple of races over a mile at Kolkata. Pesi may be double-handed for the Derby as the promising Presidential who finished third in the Indian 2000 Guineas may also join the lineup.
Southern Dynasty had run an unexpected third in the Deccan Derby and had subsequently missed a race, withdrawn from the fray, the reasons of which were not advertised. As such, his third to Miracle in the Deccan Derby catapulted his status and he went to the post as a favourite. Prithviraj trained All Attractive who was rushed to run in the Nilgiris Derby had since had a bad day in the Calcutta Monsoon Derby, performing miserably due to problems unreported. But his present workouts indicated that he would be a force to reckon with.
Suraj Narredu had Hyderabad challenger Blue Origin lead the way with Angelico in the second position ahead of All Attractive with the others spaced out. On the Chennai track, it is critical to be well-positioned as the straight is short and the hard race track doesn`t help the cause of those coming from way off the pace unless they are a cut above the rest. Blue Origin led deep into the straight before Angelico went ahead. Jockey Stephen Gray made his move on the inside of Blue Origin with Angelico on his outside. All Attractive took a while before he got into full steam but that time, Angelico had a lead which turned out to be a winning one as the latter held on to win by a fast-diminishing neck. Akshay Kumar rode the winner displaying his usual confidence. Blue Origin stayed on to finish third. Knotty Dancer was fourth and he ran to the same level of performance of his last run at Chennai.
The Stewards were called upon to adjudicate over an objection in the first race where Mandanna trained Mayflower just about held on to win from fast-finishing Wild Passion in the 1200 metres Top of the Pops Handicap, a race for horses in the lowest category. Mayflower tightened Wild Passion on the inside for a while before the rider of the latter horse Sah Farid Ansari angled out Wild Passion to get a clear run. Despite the inexperience of the apprentice, Wild Passion closed with a rush and lost narrowly. It was clear from looking at the video replay of the race that Wild Passion was held up because Mayflower was cramping her rival on the inside long enough for the verdict to be affected. Importantly, the video images that the Stewards get to see doesn`t give a proper perspective of the race because the screen image is split to give head-on as well as a side view. This prevents getting a proper feel of the race. It would be advisable if only one view of the race is given like it is done all over the world and the other views can be recorded and used for purposes of dissecting the race. Hope the authorities reflect on this.
Be that it may, the South India 1000 Guineas played true to script as Alicia found her bearings on her favourite track and gave an assertive performance. Alicia had blotted her copybook at Pune where she had run below par. Trainer Pesi Shroff had said that Alicia did not relish the Pune track and that he would target her in the South where the filly had run consistently well. And true to his belief, Alicia bounced back with an impressive win and is now slated to run on Tuesday at Bangalore in the Oaks.
Apart from Alicia, the other horse which merited serious consideration was Arjun Mangalorkar trained Allamanda. The filly had come out of a setback and ran a game race in the Bangalore 1000 Guineas where she had a hampered passage at a critical stage of the race. She was widely expected to be a serious challenger considering the fact that Suraj Narredu was declared to ride the daughter of Speakingofwhich.
Jockey Umesh rode a confident race on Alicia, settling the fancied runner in the rear group, unperturbed by the frenetic pace in front. The action began when the horses turned for home with Suraj on Allamanda going aggressive. Umesh was equal to the task as he swiftly brought Alicia into the reckoning. After a brief duel, it was clear that Alicia was going to storm clear and win with a great deal of ease. Allamanda weakened to finish second ahead of Mysore challenger Chashni. Medora did not show any improvement over Bangalore Guineas form and in fact, performed a notch below when finishing a tame fourth.
Suraj drove out Rajesh Narredu trained Priceless Gold for an easy win in the Gr 3 Deepak Khaitan Memorial Guindy Gold Cup, a terms race for four-year-olds and over. Suraj waited with Priceless Gold till approaching the final furlong before going all out. The progeny of Excellent Art improved briskly and easily measured the front-running Bernardini to win by a widening margin of four lengths. Bernardini held on to the second spot ahead of Angelino. Stayers Cup winner My Opinion who has been campaigned over all sorts of distances with no fixed target in mind, found the trip too sharp and was fourth. For the record, this was the 35th run for the seven-year-old who has been campaigned from six furlongs to 15 furlongs!