Vittal Deshmukh trained Tintinnabulation came up with a scintillating turn of foot in the final furlong to win the Gr 1 Indian Turf Invitation Cup in authoritative fashion from Ocean And Beyond and Onassis in front of a huge gathering on Sunday. The Hazara Stud Farm bred Tintinnabulation capped a great year for the trainer-jockey combination of Deshmukh and Pradeep Chouhan by winning the biggest event of the Indian Racing Calendar. Tintinnabulation is the first Hyderabad horse after Chaitanya Chakram to win this coveted event.
The four year olds had been eclipsed completely in the four group races held till the Invitation Cup and it looked as though the four year olds faced yet another drubbing in the feature event. However, the got-abroad gelding Tintinnabulation saved the day for the pride for his age group with an amazing turn of foot even as Ocean And Beyond and Onassis were about to prove a point that the four year olds cannot match up to their older counterparts. Interestingly, the second, third and fourth places were taken by older horses. This is the first time that the Invitation Cup has been thrown open to older horses and the outcome of the race could not have been a better advertisement that the move was a well thought out one. Vice-President of RCTC and Secretary General of the Turf Authorities of India Robin Corner echoed the same sentiments. He said: ``Without any hesitation, the new format is a great success and it will evolve into a bigger race in the coming years. The idea to change the format was originally proposed by Mr Hyke Sookias of the RCTC and fittingly it got realised during the time when RCTC was host to the Invitation Cup. Three cheers for the innovation.``
Angel Crown settled down to set the pace as the runners jockeyed for position over the next two furlongs as the first bend in Kolkata comes after two furlongs as such there was no jostling or bumping as the horses took positions. Maple Star, Super Storm and Onassis were in the front bunch while Tintinnabulation was relaxed in the mid group which had Ocean And Beyond, Toroloco racing in close proximity while Hemisphere, Dandified, Snowscape were all put to sleep in the rear of the group. Borsalino who was running without blinkers was lethargic at the start and was not inclined to raise a fluent gallop.
The race took a dramatic turn at the top of the straight as the horses which showed up prominently were not the one that were originally identified as possible winners but Ocean And Beyond and Onassis who threw a strong challenge. Even as the runners from behind were trying to hurry their challenge, it was Tintinnabulation who showed up on the wide outside and devoured ground to win with ease from the battling duo of Ocean And Beyond and Onassis. Dandified showed up late to finish fourth while Hemisphere, An Acquired Taste, Toroloco and Super Storm finished behind in that order. Indian Derby winner Super Storm, though prominent at the top of the straight, could not produce his patented burst of speed while Toroloco who got all the right openings did not raise a powerful gallop that he is known to possess. Wind Stream was another let down of the race.
There was no hard luck story which is typical of a race which has a big field in fray. It was a cleanly run race and the best horse of the day won the race. Tintinnabulation had run second here in the Calcutta Derby and showed amazing improvement while claiming the Golconda Derby two weeks later. That improvement was confirmed by the performance of the progeny of Intikhab in the Invitation Cup. For Nirmal Singh of Hazara Stud Farm, it has been a dream run with the produce of the farm winning all the big events of the country including the Indian Derby and Invitation Cup. A stud farm cannot ask for better results than the one obtained by Hazara Stud Farm.
For trainer Vittal Deshmukh who has been on the scene for over two decades, this is his biggest season ever. He not only broke the Derby jinx but also won the races every trainer covets to win. ``I am extremely happy to have had a great year. I have been waiting for a long time for this success to come and I feel on top of the world.`` One cannot but help remembering the man who started it all, the late Dodla Pratap Chander Reddy who always bought good quality horses and but unfortunately he died a week before Vijay`s Pride set the colours on a huge classic conquest all over India. ``We have bought the right horses. This year Vittal is going to dominate the classic scene.`` How prophetic these words turned out to be.
A crowd of over 16,000 attended the races.