The Ooty racing season had to be called off after just a few days of racing due to lockdown restrictions. The Madras Race Club did well to ensure that the owners, trainers and jockeys did not suffer due to the cancellation and planned for a short season to compensate for the lost racing. A mini-season was planned to be held in Chennai. Luckily the conditions too were favourable at Chennai and as such, there were two successive days of quality racing, with the 1000 and 2000 Guineas being run along with a richly endowed sweepstakes race. Madras Race Club Managing Committee fully deserves praise for the efforts made in ensuring that racing at Chennai regains its past glory.
Be that as it may, the Gr 3 Chettinad Cement Nilgiris 2000 Guineas, a terms race for three-year-olds, had a strong field thanks to the participation of outstation horses which may not have been in the lineup if the Bangalore season had taken off in right earnest. There were many final entries which made the field really competitive. Ironically, Akido who could have been the possible winner at Ooty because of lack of competition landed the spoils even against a more superior opposition.
Neil Darashah trained Cool Rider who was racing with the benefit of two mock races and impressive back-to-back wins was the firm favourite. Other formidable contenders like Imperial Blue and Ascoval were all at lucrative odds. Coll Rider could have justified expectations but for a poor-quality ride offered by jockey Sandesh. The jockey`s lack of fitness was apparent as he hasn`t been riding regularly seen on the track work. As such, there was a lack of adequate preparation on his own part and the fitness told on his final efforts, resulting in Akido snatching victory. Ascoval had all the chances but faltered close to home. The horses which had a run benefit at their respective home centres were able to pull it off.
Coll Rider did not jump off smartly possibly the jockey wanting to give cover for his horse but he ended up fighting with the horse to restrain him as he ran into a wall of horses. Sandesh lost position and had to settle Cool Rider in the rear. The Awakening moved swiftly to take charge within the first furlong to give cover to Hyderabad challenger Akido and Ascoval who was racing keenly. Inside the final 300 metres, jockey Neeraj Rawal made his move on Ascoval who easily sailed past the front-runner and opened up a lead of a couple of lengths. Perhaps the lack of a race run or due to stamina limitations, Ascoval began to falter in sight of the post and Akido who was handily placed, warmed up to essay strong challenge and then surge ahead. The Cool Rider came up with big strides on the wide outside but jockey Sandesh was unable to drive out his horse with all the might, the lack of full fitness on the part of the jockey becoming evident in his final effort. Ascoval hung on to nose out Cool Rider from the runner-up berth. Amazing Blue came from a long way back to take the fourth position. The initial pace of the race was so frenetic that it gave an opportunity for those at the back to have a say at the finish.
Sandesh`s riding came in for criticism. The Stipendiary Stewards have reportedly opened an enquiry into his riding. The jockey messed up the race. On that score, there is no doubt. Unfortunately, in India, they don`t conduct what is called a Yo-Yo intermittent recovery test to determine the fitness of jockeys like they do in cricket. Most of the jockeys riding in India may not pass muster in this test. It is time the race club introduced this test to prevent unfit jockeys from riding in races. At the time of licensing each season, the jockeys could be asked to undergo this test.
Prasanna Kumar trained Brunhild who had the benefit of a strong forward run at Bangalore in the only day`s racing that was possible in the summer season, showed good improvement to stave off the challenge of late-rallying Scruples to win the 1400 metres Gr 3 Chettinad Cement Nilgiris 1000 Guineas, the first classic of the season, held on Thursday. The heavily backed Baby Bazooka from Mumbai made no show. The filly had won two races during the last Mumbai racing season with start to finish efforts but she did not get into a good position early on and that effectively sealed her fate. It is difficult for horses to make a bid from behind on the fast and flat track of Chennai if the pace of the race is not brisk.
Jockey Dhanu Singh Deora took Brunhild to the front from the word `go` and the filly stayed put in front. The only possible threat for her came from Scruples who had lost considerable ground at the start and hence had a difficult task of making up lost ground. Though Scruples finished on strongly, the cause was lost even before it began. Mysore challenger Chashni ran on to take the third spot ahead of Baby Bazooka who was never in with a chance after her jockey Zervan chose to settle her in the rear group.