Will Juliette be third time lucky in the Invitation?

Cosmic Ray looks good to do an encore in the Super Mile

March 06, 2022 09:59 am | Updated 09:59 am IST - CHENNAI

TextEditorThe Madras Race Club and the Guindy racecourse has the honour and the privilege of hosting the 60th running of the Invitation Cup, which celebrates its Diamond Jubilee as the ‘Chettinad Indian Turf Invitation Cup – Grade 1’, here on Sunday. The race has just six acceptors, but what it lacks in numbers, it certainly makes up for in the quality of five out of the six runners. It’s a ‘battle of the sexes’, with the 6-year-old mare Juliette taking on two four-year-old geldings and one colt. Juliette, running in a record third appearance in the Invitation, takes on the 4-year-old sensation Zuccarelli, the Indian Guineas winner A Star Is Born, and the improving and sparingly-raced Chopin. The unassuming grey mare Juliette, who will be racing in the legendary Gold and Brown silks of the late M.A.M. Ramaswamy, has played bridesmaid two years in succession. In 2020, she was second to Adjudicate and was extremely unlucky to finish behind Alluring Silver last year. Since then, the daughter of Musketier, trained by Karthik Ganapathy, has come out and taken revenge in the Eclipse Stakes in Mumbai, where she blew the field away, clocking just a fraction off the track record. Lining up to take her on will be the Indian Derby winner Zuccarelli. A son of Western Aristocrat, he’s proved himself to be the best of his generation and now comes his sternest test. And adding punch to the contest are A Star Is Born and Chopin. Both will be fancying their chances, but for me I’d settle for a date with Juliette. Before the marquee race gets off at 5 p.m., one will witness the running of the Maj. P.K. Mehra Super Mile. Since its inception, the event is yet to see a horse win in successive years and in the 39 years of its running, it has been won by a four-year-old no less than 21 times. Though one has heard of horses that strike form, in the case of the Super Mile, it’s the trainer you might need to watch. Sulaiman Attaollahi has an enviable strike rate, saddling three winners — Serjeant At Arms (2017 and 2019) and Cosmic Ray (2021) —in the last five years. This year he has Cosmic Ray and Forest Flame. Both have an outstanding chance, and the race should boil down to this duo. While the latter is rated higher on the scale, she is coming back to a mile from distances ranging from 2400 metres to 1800 metres and that might go against her. That prompts me to opt for Cosmic Ray to do a repeat.

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