PAST THE POST – A Review of the Spartan Poker Indian 1000 Guineas (Grade 1)
- By Cyrus Naterwalla
With 3 high quality Fillies with different profiles competing and all looking rather closely matched on paper, an exciting finish was envisaged in spite of the smallest 1000 Guineas field since 2009 and the race clearly lived up to it’s billing although there was a surprise element to throw a spanner into the works and almost disrupt the fairy tale ending. The strong and gusty Hyderabad Challenger Lady In Lace was understandably made the favourite having decimated the opposition the last time she visited Western India but there was strong home support for the unbeaten Ruffina who was bidding to give David Allan a record equalling 22nd Indian Classic win. The 3rd filly in the fray was Manifold who had finished only a length a quarter behind Lady In Lace when the pair had met last although she had not impressed much in her lead up race. Most the 9 fillies looked well in the paddock with only Sassy Lass and Orion’s Belt looking out of their league in this company. Ruffina looked a picture of strength and fitness while Lady In Lace too looked well within herself in spite of her rigorous schedule. Surprisingly, there was a late move on the course for Manifold causing Lady In Lace to drift out slightly in the betting. Ice Dancer predictably took up the role of pacemaker and shot ahead to set up a good pace in the early stages as the 9 fillies got off to an even dispatch from the mile barrier from Manifold who surprisingly was very prominent in the early stages, with Ruffina settling well back into 3rd spot being tracked on the outside by the rank outsider Orion’s Belt. Racing in 5th spot at this stage was Bottega Louie who was on the outside of Windsor Forest holding the fence. Sassy Lass came next in the field with Lady In Lace ridden well off the pace by Suraj Narredu and Themis ridden in restraint in the rear. The pace continued to be strong as they approached the bend with Sassy Lass and Orion’s Belt the first two off the bridle and struggling to hold their position, Manifold creeping a little closer to the leader, Ruffina still travelling strongly in 3rd being joined on the inside by Windsor Forest saving ground, Bottega Louie losing pace and Lady In Lace still biding her time to make her move. Ice Dancer dropped away rounding the turn, her job done and Manifold surged forward and set sail for home, with Ruffina moving up strongly to deliver her challenge. 2 lengths further away came Themis who had come through the shortest way, Windsor Forest who was beginning to gallop in the middle and Lady In Lace now starting to move forward and close in on the leaders. Ruffina darted ahead of Manifold passing the 300M marker with Lady In Lace making strong progress to come to within a length of Ruffina and Windsor Forest also galloping between the pair but finding herself short of room. Ruffina was joined by Lady In Lace as they hit the furlong pole with Windsor Forest being checked by her owner mate and having to change course and switch around to the outside. The much anticipated duel finally materialized with David Allan asking for everything and Lady In Lace also put into top gear by Suraj Narredu. Windsor Forest in the meantime sprouted wings once switched to the outside and came with a devastating run under P. Trevor to make it a 3 way duel. In a thrilling finish which had racegoers on the edge of their seats, Lady In Lace with her characteristic determination fought her way to the front and out her head in front on the line to hold off her flying owner mate Windsor Forest by a neck. Ruffina put in a brave effort but just could not sustain and ended up a gallant close 3rd, ¾ length away while Manifold began to stay on again towards the close and was gaining on the leaders, ending up a further ¾ length away in 4th.
Lady In Lace this firmly established herself as the leading 3 year old filly of her generation and was a deserving winner but should also be considered a shade fortunate as Windsor Forest ran the race of her life and can possibly be deemed unlucky as she was crossed and checked by the winner at a crucial juncture and was flying at the finish and would probably have won in another couple of strides. The fact that the first two were in the same ownership probably resulted in there being no objection from the runner up who lives to fight another day. On this showing, it looks like both Lady In Lace and Ruffina will struggle to get the mile and half trip of the Oaks, the former has shown she stays up to a mile and a quarter but may struggle with the extra 400M although connections will undoubtedly take a crack. Hence, Pesi Shroff appears to have a strong hand for the Oaks as both Windsor Forest and Manifold are likely to stay well. Windsor Forest deserves tremendous credit as she was coming into this Classic without a prep race and still almost toppled Lady In Lace. Ruffina was clearly found wanting for stamina at the all important end and will now probably drop down to shorter trips.
(Disclaimer : Views are entirely that of the correspondent only and RWITC takes no responsibility for the same)