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Will the Lady cross the Bridge in Feb? - -By Vivek Jain | TOI

Posted on - 21 Dec 2017

Will the Lady cross the Bridge in Feb?
-By Vivek Jain | TOI
THE double classic "dhamaka" at Mahalaxmi threw up few surprises, but has raised a mouth-watering prospect for a clash of the sexes in the Indian Derby. It is being asked if a Lady will storm the castle and cross the bridge when we come to the first Sunday in February? The once thought to be the impregnable gates to the Castle, appear somewhat under threat.
The Southern filly, Lady In Lace, stormed to an impressive win in the 1,000, before a Spartan crowd (pun intended) ruffling the feathers of the unbeaten Ruffina. The Lady's trainer, Prasad Raju, to whom I was introduced to at the unsaddling, seemed sanguine about her chances in The Indian Oaks, commenting that she has become a bit wayward at the gates on moving to Mumbai, but the longer trip would be better suited to her style. She has now won four classics on the trot, and Shapoor Mistry's decision to take a half share, at a fancy price, outsmarting other big guns in the race for her, has proved to be a winner. In fact, runner up Windsor Forest, also owned by Shapoor and Dilip Thacker (who also has a quarter share in the Lady) can be considered a touch unlucky to have just gone under after a troubled run. Both Mr Thacker and Pesi Shroff, the Forests' trainer, were of the view that Windsor is best up to a mile and is an unlikely Oaks hopeful.
What of Ruffina? She clearly did not stay the mile, as confirmed by David Allan, who stated she even did this well on her class. A disappointed Dr Cyrus Poonawalla told me he is likely to target her next for the Dr S C Jain Sprinters' though he is hopeful that sooner or later he will get her to win a Group race over a mile. Either the Sprinters' Cup or the Super Mile are obvious options as she progresses. Manifold, who looked very well, was thought to be ridden to well up with the pace, according to her breeder-owner Ameeta Mehra, and she will surely go closer in the Indian Oaks. Sana's emphatic win in the Kolkata Oaks brings her into the Indian classic picture, though some feel she may remain in Kolkata as it hosts the Invitation Cup this year.
What of Castlebridge, who won the Indian 2,000 as expectedly, and in a faster time than the 1,000? His front running style and doubtful staying ability has thrown open the Indian Derby. Zeyn Mirza told me the colt, who has now 8 from 11, will next run the RR Ruia on January 14th, but whether he will get further is a question mark. When I asked Trevor, his jockey, this question he smiled without committing an answer, but clearly there will be a lineup of those waiting to exploit this chink in his armour. Castle's trainer Bharat Singh did say they will try to make him settle, tucked in behind a pace setter, and the win of Big Sur in smart time brings him right into the Derby puzzle.
Though it was a bold decision to run the two classics on successive days, who knows, Ruffina may well have made a bid (even if for a place) if the 2,000 was run a week later!

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