Races

Change in terms gives hope to older runners

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Rochester has a chance to repeat Mahalakshmi feat; Manifold, Kangra can also deliver

The eleventh renewal, and 56th overall, of the championship event — the Indian Turf Invitation Cup — will be run in the ‘City of Joy’ on Sunday.

A significant change in the terms has given hope to the older runners, who will be trying their luck for the fifth time, which may well prove to be the platform for their first ever success as a group. That change has been a two-kilogramme reduction in weight conceded to the members of the Classic generation.

Previous winners in fray

Of the three veterans in the field, both Alaindair (now eight) and Temerity (now five) have previously annexed this prize and are in fine fettle.

Given that four-year-olds have an unblemished record hitherto, one has to closely examine their chances. About 40% of Invitation Cup winners have come from amongst the ranks of Indian Derby winners, so Rochester has a fairly good probability of repeating his Mahalakshmi feat.

The runner-up on that occasion was Lady In Lace, who flattened out in the last 100 metres of that race, probably because she lacked peak fitness following a setback. Connections feel that — with the benefit of that run — it can turn the tables here.

She is likely to start as the public choice.

Not out of consideration is the Indian Oaks winner Manifold, who followed up with a third in the Indian Derby behind Rochester and Lady In Lace after a rest of a mere fortnight. With four weeks having elapsed since she was last seen in public, she is poised to put that loss behind her.

Flying somewhat under the radar has been Kangra, winner of the Bangalore Winter Derby. If one ignores her lacklustre effort in the Pune Derby last October, she has been consistency personified and is a strong contender for an on-the-board finish.

Castlebridge tipped

The chief supporting event of the afternoon, the Maj. P.K. Mehra Super Mile (Gr.1, 1600 m.) appears to be at the mercy of Castlebridge. He bids fair to emulate the last two winners of this race by coming down in distance after essaying longer trips.

Also in his favour is the fact that some two-thirds of the winners of this race in the last couple of decades have been four-year-olds; he also has home track advantage. From his age group, only Mauritania has taken him on. Evesham and New England may prove best of the older set.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 2:12:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/races/change-in-terms-gives-hope-to-older-runners/article22920459.ece

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