Dallas Todywalla trained Ruffian was spectacular while winning the Gr 1 Sprinters Cup for the second time in a row at Malakpet on Saturday. The daughter of Excellent Art out of Miss Danehill simply decimated the opposition in the manner only she could do. The victory was a further boost to the growing stature of the Poonawalla Stud Farm resident stallion Excellent Art.
Incidentally, the victory of Ruffina served to highlight the fact that after a few years of drought, the Poonawalla Stud Farm has bounced back which was also reflected in the fact that the top nursery of the country was also adjudged the leading stud farm of the country at the annual awards of the Turf Authorities of India held later in the day.
Pesi Shroff who stole the limelight saddling three winners, also led in his 50th Group I winner through Sacred Roman who won the Gr 1 Stayers Cup in taking style later in the day.
There was no doubt about the fact that Ruffina simply towered over the rest and barring any mishap, her victory was taken for granted despite the fact that she missed the Dr S C Jain Sprinters Cup at Mumbai a fortnight ago due to a minor mishap in the stable. Her preparatory workouts had shown that there was nothing to worry and that there was none in the field worthy of challenging her might. Accordingly, she was quoted at cramped odds with Mauritania commanding some respect.
Sandesh eased Ruffina in about the fifth position as Star Baron led the field well into the straight. Even as David Allan on Mauritania was about to get into full flow, Ruffina cruised past the Bangalore challenger and went away for an effortless win by a margin of two lengths. David Allan was smart enough to realise that very little was achieved by extending his horse and he was content thereafter to ensure that he did not miss out the runner-up berth by doing enough to stave off the challenge of Tutankhamun. Captain Courage was fourth while Corfe Castle who was expected to be in the thick of things missed the kick at the gates and could only finish a tame fourth. It was a 1-2 for the Poonawalla Stud Farm produce in the premier event.
Ruffina joined the illustrious list of horses which achieved back to back wins in this event. The Manjri Stud Farm produce Oasis Star was another to achieve a similar feat on the same track in record timing. Oasis Star was one of the outstanding sprinters of her time as the horse she beat in her repeat win was Palazzio`s Sun who won the subsequent year`s Sprinters Cup. Ruffina too is of similar calibre and these two easily measure up as the best sprinters of our times.
The Gr 1 Stayers Cup which is run over 300 metres is usually won by an older horse as the best of the four-year-olds generally prefer to run in the Invitation Cup. Whenever a good four-year-old has been pitched in this race, more often than not the connections have been successful in winning the race. On the last occasion, a four-year-old won on this track was Padmanabhan trained Moment of Glory. Sacred Roman who was in the fray possibly because stablemate Smasher qualified in the line up for the Invitation Cup had everything going for him as the older lot had proved to be inconsistent and logged many miles which had taken its toll. Sacred Roman who had inherited strong staying genes from her dam was the obvious horse to win and everything fell in place for this free-running horse in front. The lack of pace judgement on the part of the other jockeys in the fray or because they were tied down by instructions ensured that Sacred Roman recorded a bloodless win.
Jockey Leigh Roche got a cover in the form of Kambaku who decided to take charge after crossing the first furlong with the others spaced out. The favourite Watchmyscript was so far behind the field that the six-year-old had lost the plot before the drama began. Sandesh on Watchmyscript hopelessly miscalculated the distance from the pace-setter to his horse that possibly his radar failed him completely. After laying in wait in the second position behind Kambaku, Sacred Roman easily collared the front-runner in the stretch and went away for a big win. Raees ran on from behind to edge out Kambaku to get the second place. Sacred Roman provided Pesi Shroff with his first Stayers Cup win of his career.
In a thrilling finish, jockey Suraj Narredu drove out favourite Brainstorm to the last stride win over Isabella in the 1400 metres J & T Developers Million, a race for horses rated 74 and above. Isabella had the first run on her opponent and fought out resolutely before going down by a whisker. That`s My Class edged out Bangalore challenger Courage to save place money. The outstation challengers were handicapped 10 points higher than their original rating. And to come to think of it, the Turf Authorities of India don`t have trust in the handicapping followed in each of the centres! How can we have common rules of racing, combined tote when we can`t agree on things which can take racing forward in India.
Trainer Padmanabhan who was enjoyed a glorious run was adjudged the Champion Trainer of the year. Jockey Trevor Patel got the Champion Jockey of the year for the fourth time in a row. Last year`s Invitation Cup winner Kangra beat Sir Cecil to become the Champion horse of the year by one point.
Valegro (Leigh Roche up) winner of the Country Stud Farms Million
Swansea (C Umesh up) winner of the Deccan Bookmakers Welfare Association Juvenile Million
Siyabonga (Akshay Kumar up) winner of the Global Stud Million
Mozambique (Akshay Kumar up) winner of the Telangana Race Horse Owners Association Million
Ruffina (A Sandesh up) winner of the Sprinters Cup (Gr.1)
Brainstorm (Suraj Narredu up) winner of the J & T Developers Million
Sacred Roman (Leigh Roche up) winner of the Dr.M.A.M.Ramaswamy Stayers Cup (Gr.1)
Actually (P S Chouhan up) winner of the Bol Sports Bulletin Million