The glorious uncertainties of the sport of horse racing came to haunt those who firmly believed that the Gr 1 Bangalore Turf Club Sprinters Cup was a match race between Multifaceted and Iron Age. Both these champions flopped unexpectedly. Hyderabad challenger Corfe Castle came like a rocket from way off the pace to swamp the opposition in a record timing of one minute 08.797 seconds.
Incidentally, Corfe Castle`s full sister Ruffina had won the previous two editions of the race and in the fitness of things, Corfe Castle who had emulated the feats of Ruffina has now gone on to add the Sprinters Cup to his list of achievements. In all the Sprinters Cup races that I have witnessed, what Corfe Castle achieved was unique and no other horse in the history of this race came from an impossible position to eventually win in spectacular fashion.
Multifaceted had hammered the likes of Mauritania and Knotty Ash in his last outing in a phenomenal fashion and that performance was the reason why he was backed to the exclusion of the rest though the sprinters` cup race has often been a graveyard for favourites. Mumbai challenger Iron Age from the stables of Imtiaz Sait was available at higher odds despite his formidable achievement back home.
Multifaceted was bumped at the start by Star Baron and the favourite did not get an uncontested lead as he had got in all his winning outings. Suraj Narredu had to settle Multifaceted behind Iron Age while Intense Stylist, Knotty Ash and Mauritania were in proximity while Corfe Castle who was outpaced gracing the wrong end of the field being a detached last. It was clear when Iron Age brought the field into view that he would not be able to sustain the lead to the post. Multifaceted too did not look the part after hitting the front inside the final 300 metres. Intense Stylist and Mauritania then got down to dispute for the spoils but the complexion of the race changed when Corfe Castle was sighted on the wide outside. The progeny of Excellent Art who took he turn wide covered the leeway with remarkable ease and rocketed to win from Mauritania. The latter held off Intense Stylist to get the second position. Coorg Regiment was a surprise fourth ahead of Knotty Ash while the two market fancies finished off the frame, something nobody had believed was possible.
Jockey Sandesh who rode the winner said that Corfe Castle was completely outpaced in the early part. His plan was to stay in touch with those in front but the front-runners went too fast and Corfe Castle did not have the speed to stay closer. Sandesh did not panic and improved the position on the wide outside. Though Corfe Castle took the bend at considerable speed, he was well balanced when Sandesh set him alight with two furlongs to go. ``Once my horse got into the rhythm, I was pretty confident that I would catch up with those in front because my horse was travelling well and those who spent at a solid clip had expended their energy. I am thrilled to be winning back to back sprinters cup winners,`` he added. Last year, Sandesh had guided Ruffina to a splendid win against Mauritania.
Suraj Narredu who rode Multifaceted said that the favourite did not give him a good feel in the race. The horse was thrown off his stride by Star Baron bumping my horse. Multifaceted was comfortably racing behind Iron Age but the spark of the last run was not there and he folded up rather abruptly. Multifaceted was not getting a footing and he was beaten by the time we approached the final 300 metres.
Trainer Leo D`Silva who was saddling the first sprinters` cup winner of his career said that he was worried when Corfe Castle got left behind. But once he began to devour ground in the straight, I knew Corfe Castle had the ability to swamp them all, he added.
The Gr 1 Dr M A M Ramaswamy Stayers` Cup, the other Grade I race of the day did not throw any surprise with the well-fancied Ambrosio winning the race in great style in the hands of jockey Suraj Narredu. Last year`s Stayers Cup winner Sacred Roman was made the favourite in the hope that he would emulate his last year`s feat but the public fancy who led from the start before conceding that position to Southern Ruler did not look the part event though he regained the lead approaching the final turn. Ambrosio who was relaxed in about fourth or fifth position till taking the home turn produced a good effort in the stretch to sail past the rest in the final furlong to win with a measure of comfort. Point To Prove who raced in the front bunch stayed on well to take the second position ahead of Raees while Cosmos ran below expectations to be a tame fourth.
Suraj Narredu that he was pretty confident about the prospects of Ambrosio. ``I had the option to ride Ambrosio and Cosmos. I chose the former after studying the form of the horses carefully. I went with Ambrosio as his effort of being a good second to War Hammer in one of his outings largely influencing my decision. I am glad I was proved right in my judgment.`` Incidentally, Suraj Narredu was declared the champion jockey in India at the racing awards held on Saturday evening. This is the first time that Suraj Narredu is getting this recognition.
The Mysore Race Club had made excellent arrangements and the first day`s racing went off without a hitch. The organisation of the event on a massive scale was expected to be a herculean task given the inadequate infrastructure but the club headed by its Chairman Dr Nityananda Rao did a magnificent job and have given themselves a good perspective as to how they could work towards expanding their infrastructure further. The road map has been laid and given the enthusiasm and commitment, they should progress further. The facilities were much better than the one that one gets at a more experienced set up like the Bangalore Turf Club. As Zavaray Poonawalla said that Mysore has set standards in hospitality and arrangements that even a club like RWITC would like to emulate.
Sherwin (Suraj Narredu up) winner of the Madras Race Club Million
Subah Ka Tara (Y S Srinath up) winner of the Dashmesh-Win Legend Million
Karadeniz (Trevor Patel up) winner of the Hyderabad Race Club Million
Star Sapphire (Yash Narredu up) winner of the R.W.I.T.C Million
Rapunzel (Imran Chisty up) winner of the Japan Million
Corfe Castle (A Sandesh up) winner of the Bangalore Turf Club Sprinters Cup (Gr.1)
Ambrosio (Suraj Narredu up) winner of the Dr.M.A.M.Ramaswamy Stayers Cup (Gr.I)
Lagopus (A Imran Khan up) winner of the Delhi Race Club Million