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Posted on - 16 Dec 2017

- By Cyrus Naterwalla
The Indian 2000 Guineas in the 2nd Classic of the Indian Racing Calendar and usually follows the 1000 Guineas a week later. This is the first Classic for the Colts and is also run over the metric mile with Fillies receiving a 1.5 kilo gender allowance. This year, like the 1000 Guineas, the race has adopted a new sponsor and has been name the Jacqueline 2000 Guineas named after the last filly to defeat the colts and win this prestigious race in 2010. Unfortunately, due to the 1000 and 2000 being scheduled on consecutive days this season, there will be no filly in the line up to try and emulate the mighty Jacqueline in the inaugural running of the race named after her.
The 2000 Guineas is the first leg of the Indian Triple Crown and has seen some great horses capturing this race in the past. Dr. M.A.M. Ramaswamy dominated this race in the mid 2000s, rattling off a hattrick of victories through Mystical, Southern Empire and Bourbon King before Jacqueline humbled the colts in 2010. Other greats like Machiavellianism, Murioi and the mighty Be Safe have won this race in the past. Last year, Sergeant At Arms stood head and shoulders above his rivals and decimated the opposition to emerge an odds on winner and this year too, seems to have a similar script with Castlebridge appearing to be head and shoulders above his rivals. If one were to leave out Castlebridge, the race takes on an extremely competitive look and hence the fight for the minor placings should be quite interesting. The main contenders for this year’s Classic are :-
CASTLEBRIDGE  (Burden of Proof  x Castle Queen)
TRAINER :- Bharat Singh                           
WEIGHT :- 57 kgs.
JOCKEY  :- P. Trevor                                                          
DRAW :- 6
RATING :- 94
Castlebridge is a strong galloping front running machine who has established himself as one of the best of his generation upto a mile and seems to be head and shoulders above his 9 rivals today. After tasting defeat in his first 2 starts, Castlebridge has rattled off a sequence of 7 wins in his last 8 starts, his only defeat coming in the Bangalore Summer Derby at the hands of Manifold where he was collared virtually in the last couple of strides over a trip which stretches his stamina. He has demolished today’s Kolkotta Oaks winner Sana on several occasions by a wide margin and was a facile winner of the Bangalore Colts Trial where he beat Perfect Star by 2 lengths before succumbing to Manifold in the Derby. He has since rattled off a sequence of 4 wins on the trot including easy victories in the Mysore 2000 Guineas and Derby. He warmed up for this race in the Maharaja of Morvi Trophy which is thought to be a jinxed race with the winner seldom going on to win a Classic but he looks set to put paid to that rumour. He never came off the bridle that day conceding weight to Pure Zinc, Bateleur and Gallant Knight so it looks well nigh impossible for any of those three to be able to beat him today. He seems to have maintained himself in immaculate condition since then, has impressed in his workouts and looks set to carry the colours of Dr. Vijay Mallya to victory in this race for the first time since Storm Again.
PERFECT STAR  (Excellent Art x Free Radical)
TRAINER :- Karthik Ganapathy                             
WEIGHT:-  57 kgs.
JOCKEY :-  David Allan                                         
DRAW :- 3
RATING :- 68
Although rated well below Castlebridge on official ratings, Perfect Star has been the one to get nearest to him, finishing runner up to him by 2 lengths in the Bangalore Colts Trial Stakes in the summer and hence is likely to shape as the main danger. After only managing 6th in the Bangalore Derby, he travelled to Hyderabad for the Deccan Colts Championship where he finished 4th to Prevalent Force before travelling to Pune to run 4th in the Pune Derby, 2 lengths behind Rochester and a length ahead of Pure Zinc. Perfect Star got first run on them that day before being outstayed so maybe the drop back to a mile should suit him better and he travelled far better than Rochester in a Mock Race a couple of weeks ago. He looks a solid and strong galloping sort and could possibly shape as the main danger
ROCHESTER  (Phoenix Tower x Krasnaya)
TRAINER :- S. K. Sunderji                                     
WEIGHT:-  57 kgs.
JOCKEY  :- C. S. Jodha                                          
DRAW :- 7
RATING :- 69
Big strapping colt who just about seems to be coming into his own, he has had 6 starts till date and finished 2nd on 4 occasions. Beaten a neck by Big Sur on debut over 1400M, he went on to run Windsor Forest very close next time out, that form getting a big boost with her flying 2nd in the 1000 Guineas today. He then went on to run a close 3rd in the Breeders Juvenile Colts Championship to Caprisca and Pure Zinc. After losing narrowly over 9 furlongs to begin his Pune campaign he finally tasted success for the first time when he won the F.D. Wadia Trophy beating Summer Rays and Gallant Knight before going on to run 2nd to Lady In Lace in the Pune Derby in which he finished ahead of Perfect Star and Pure Zinc. Rochester comes into this race without the benefit of a prep race but he has been working extremely well and still appears to be very much on the upgrade. He looks a strong contender to challenge for 2nd place and should be in the thick of things
PURE ZINC  (Sedgfield x Skipperess)
TRAINER :- Adhirajsingh Jodha                
WEIGHT:-  57 kgs.
JOCKEY :-  Y.S. Srinath
DRAW :- 9
RATING :- 68
The grey colt also has scope for improving having had just 5 starts till date and began his career in fine fashion by defeating most of these in the Breeders Juvenile Colts Championship on just his 2nd start. He made a belated reappearance in September in the S.A. Poonawalla Multi Million and was again impressive when beating Bateleur to win convincingly which made him favourite for the Pune Derby. He ran disappointingly that day finishing only 6th with both Rochester and Perfect Star behind him. However, he somewhat redeemed himself in the Morvi where he finished runner up to Castlebridge ahead of Bateleur and Gallant Knight. Whether his young trainer has it in him to be able to train a Classic winner at this stage is ponderable and although Pure Zinc looks to have the credentials to be involved in the finish, he will need to improve dramatically to put it across Castlebridge
COSTA BRAVA   (Phoenix Tower  x Karakorum Splendor)
TRAINER :- Pesi Shroff                  
WEIGHT :- 57 kgs.
JOCKEY  :- Colm O’Donoghue                              
DRAW :- 2
RATING :- 47
This bay gelding has raced just twice in his career so far and many would feel that it is foolish to even enter him here but Pesi Shroff is a master tactician and he is not one to enter one of his wards in a Classic without them having a legitimate claim to take their chance. After finishing runner up on his debut over 1200M to Superstar Supreme, Costa Brava made short work of his Class IV rivals to score a facile victory on his 2nd start, easily beating Gentillesse with plenty to spare. The point to note is that he was not fully extended but still clocked a faster time than the Class I opposition in the next race which is very impressive. He looked a bit out of his depth in the Mock Race which he underwent with Daffodils and Windsor Forest but he is having just his 3rd career start and is open to plenty of improvement and he was not really extended that day. The very fact that Colm O’ Donoghue is being flown all the way down from Ireland especially for this ride suggests that he is very seriously fancied by connections and if one is looking for value at a price then they may find it with him.
CONCLUSION :- On all known form and ratings, Castlebridge appears to be a cinch to win this and it will be very surprising if he does not come in alone. Perfect Star appears to be the next best although a strong case can also be made for the improving Rochester. For those looking to be a little more adventurous, at double figure odds could take an each way chance on Costa Brava who in my opinion will defy all expectations and run a cracker of a race for Colm O’Donoghue.
(Disclaimer : Views are entirely that of the correspondent only and RWITC takes no responsibility for the same)

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