With Saturday’s Stayers' Cup and Sprinters' Cup now safely in the record books, attention turns to today's feature, the Indian Turf Invitation Cup (Gr. I; 2,400m.), due off at 5-10 p.m.
The McDowell Indian Derby has proved to be the pre-eminent lead-up race to this event, with about 75 per cent of the winners of the Invitation Cup having made their immediate previous starts in the “Blue Riband of the Indian Turf”.
The advent of older horses will undoubtedly see this percentage diminishing in time, but whether that trend will commence this year will be known only after the race is over.
The 2013 runner-up, Ocean And Beyond, has been a faithful servant to his connections and will attempt to go one better. At any rate, he should have the measure of Toroloco and An Acquired Taste, while last year's hero, Tintinnabulation, who defeated Ocean And Beyond on that occasion will enjoy home track advantage and cannot be ignored.
But for the fact that no Indian Derby winner has gone on to success in an Invitation Cup run at Hyderabad in March, Alaindair would have been a stand-out selection. After all, the Altamash Ahmed-trainee has taken both of the pivotal events for his age group and it's proved to be a quality crop. The horse is in fine fettle, and with Y.S. Srinath in the saddle should bring home the bacon.
Itching to gain revenge will be the members of the beaten brigade in the Indian Derby, from amongst which Jeremiah and Murioi are more likely to bounce back.
While one cannot disregard Starry Eyes and the freshly-minted Circle Of Bliss (formerly Circle Of Life), place-getters at Mahalakshmi, their win percentages are the lowest of all in the 16-horse field. Lightly-raced Sovereign Rule has the scope for improvement.
To be run at 3-45 p.m, the Maj. P.K. Mehra Memorial Super Mile (Gr. I; 1,600m.), which is the principal supporting event of the afternoon, boasts a pair of outstanding milers — Amelia and Mariinsky (fourth in the Sprinters' Cup on Saturday). Between them this pair has scored 11 times and never been unplaced at trips up to a metric mile (barring on one occasion when the former fell).
Striking and Charlatan are not without hope. The year-older local hero Machiavellianism is a genuine and consistent performer and holds the best chance from outside the classic crop.