Upsets have been par for the Gr 1 Sprinters Cup and it came as no surprise when Pesi Shroff trained Solomon bolted to the front from the wide outside draw and held on resolutely to win against the run of expectations on the first day of the two-day Indian Turf Invitation Cup weekend races on Saturday. Immediate racing form may not have indicated such a reversal of fortunes for Solomon but then in Sprinters Cup it is the horse which performs the best on the day which wins and not necessarily the best horse in contention.
For the second year in succession, rains have come to haunt the Invitation Cup weekend. Last year, the Invitation Cup at Hyderabad had to be postponed by a week due to heavy rains. The track could not take that volume of rain. This year, there was a dramatic change in weather pattern in Mumbai with unseasonal rain halting racing after five of the scheduled seven races had been run. Persistent drizzle made the underfoot conditions tricky. The jockeys collectively expressed their apprehension about continuing with racing and the Stewards, keeping in mind safety as the paramount consideration decided to shift to last two races of the day, including the Gr 1 Stayers Cup to Sunday. The two races that could not be gone through will be run as first two races of the day with the timings of races to be changed accordingly. The worry though is forecast of rain. If it rains again tomorrow, the Invitation Cup races have to be inevitably postponed to next week. The black cotton soil that is the base of the track at Mumbai is not conducive for racing even if it doesn`t rain hard.
Dancing Prances who had reeled off five wins in a row was installed the firm favourite. Dances Prances had the beating of all the local horses and he was considered good enough to handle the challenge of horses from other centres. Dancing Prances had to defy history to win this race because the race has always proved to be a graveyard for favourites. The pressure of being a favourite does affect the horse and connections and slip ups do occur in such a scenario. There was no expectation about a turnaround in Solomon`s performance though trainer Pesi Shroff must have been quietly confident as he has always been. Pesi rarely ventures out to make a statement about his horses, letting them to talk.
Ashish took Solomon to the front from the wide outside draw and led the field enjoying a useful break. Brynhill and Dancing Prances who were drawn wide moved up to stay in touch with the front runner. In the meanwhile, Speed Six who was the second favourite and expected to do the front running was not spotted in the front group with jockey Trevor Patel not making an effort to do so and rode a race that did not suit the horse. Hyderabad`s star Un Un Un was withdrawn at the gates because the starter here is not so patient like the Hyderabad counterpart.
Solomon who came into the straight a few lengths clear of Brynhill kicked on merrily in front. Inside the final furlong, it looked as though Brynhill would overhaul the front runner but he slackened after giving hopes. The big made Dancing Prances was unable to change gears, the underfoot conditions perhaps having a bearing on his performance. Solomon shook off Brynhill to record an upset win while Dancing Prances raced flat to finish third ahead of Maximus. The winner clocked a smart time of one minute 09.9 seconds which was fractionally slower than the track record.
Sprinters Cup is like the T20 cricket. There is little score for recovering and Solomon who perhaps relished the rain soaked underfoot conditions made good the lead he had to provide trainer Pesi Shroff with his third success in this event. Incidentally, the race was named after Attila who herself had provided the trainer with back to back success in this event.
Malesh Narredu trained Staristocrat came up with a brilliant burst of speed inside the final 200 metres to oblige as a strong favourite in the 1400 metres Madras Race Club Million, a race for horses rated 60 to 86. Jockey Yash Narredu patiently waited with the favourite before asking the favourite to quicken. Staristocrat had no issues in tackling the front running La Traviata and Rule Downunder.
Promising three year old Eternal Flame did no harm to her growing reputation by slamming the opposition in the 1200 metres Madras Race Club Million, a race for three year olds. The progeny of first season stallion Arazan, Eternal Flame had beaten the Poonawalla Breeders` Multi Million winner Costa Del Sol in her previous outing and she easily collared the front running Polished Chrome in the straight and went away for a bloodless win.
Cooji Katrak trained Shivalik Showers who had matched strides with better quality horses, was simply too good in the 1800 metres Japan Cup, a race for horses rated 40 to 66. Shivalik Showers was taken on a start to finish mission by Darren Williams and stayed there without coming under pressure. Native Force came up with a late bid to finish second while the much hyped Lord Jim flopped miserably.
Aravind Ganapathy trained Sharp Witted who looked a cut above the rest in the 1600 metres Delhi Race Club Million, a race for lowest rated horses, predictably trounced the field hardly raising any sweat. Ad Astra was far away second.