At 3.35 p.m. on Saturday, nine horses will line up to face the starter at the 1200m marker in the ultimate test for speed on the Bengaluru turf.
The Zavaray S. Poonawalla Sprinters’ Cup, the first of two Grade 1 Races to be run in a span of a little over an hour, promises to be an exciting one. With the average rating being 100 plus, one could not have had a classier line-up and the 2018 track record of 1minute, 09.94s, held by Mauritania, could be under serious threat.
Of course, the run of the race is going to play a very decisive role but one shouldn’t think that with just nine runners there won’t be any traffic problems. More often than not, one has more hard luck stories in smaller fields than in the bigger ones.
Instead of getting into the form figures, what makes interesting reading is statistics. From 2008 to 2022, Mumbai-based trainers have produced a winner in the Sprinters’ Cup 11 times but between 2020 and 2022 the winner has emerged twice from Bengaluru and once from Hyderabad.
The last time the champion hailed from Kolkata was in 1995 and Bharath Singh — the man who saddled the winner – has Agnostic under his care now.
If I had to be put on the line, I would probably opt for Agnostic, Cool Rider and Hunting Goddess as my selection for the first three.
Veteran in the fray
A little over an hour later, a field of seven will face off for that gruelling test of stamina in the Dr. M.A.M. Ramaswamy Chettiar Of Chettinad Memorial Stayers’ Cup. The horses of classic vintage are just two while there are five 5-year-olds & over with My Opinion, at eight, being the oldest.
It’s interesting to note that between 2017 and 2022, the race was won thrice by the Bengaluru-based professional Sulaiman Attoallahi and the Mumbai-based champion trainer Pesi Shroff took the honours two times.
Chennai’s B. Suresh broke their hold on the race when he saddled My Opinion to a win in 2021. All have runners in the race on Saturday.
Arc De Triomphe, trained by Adhiraj Singh Jodha, is probably the one they will all have to beat. He’s shown that he relishes a trip when winning the South India Leger (2800m) ahead of My Opinion.
Also coming in with a great chance, although she has never traversed this distance, is the 4-year-old Success, trained by Vijay Singh. She too has done everything asked of her. Silvarius from Bengaluru and Chamonix from Mumbai are certain to have their followers, while My Opinion will be looking to becoming one of the oldest winners of the Stayers’ Cup.
In summing up, I would opt for Arc De Triomphe and Success and we will have to see whether the record for the distance (3m, 14.01s) set by Star Contender in 1992 is going to be beaten.