I like a horse a great deal in Sunday’s first race in Mumbai. It is Captain Abdon. As I look at the Original Vel book, Captain Abdon, in six starts has been worse than fourth only once. In Race 44, with S A Amit up, Captain Abdon was a winner at 20/1. His key victim was Kandinsky who was winner in his next outing. Entrusted with the public purse in an accident-marred Race 104, Captain Abdon, again in the hands apprentice Amit, was a length and a half adrift.
On Sunday, Captain Abdon is set to carry 59 ½ kgs and has drawn seven in the 11-horse field. The distance is 1200 metres. Consistency and readiness are the key elements and the entire cause is strengthened by the presence of A Sandesh in the saddle. The trainer is quite willing to give up the apprentice allowance and that is a measure of the connections’ confidence.
Spanish Saga had to go to 1-26 to win Race 62. In Race 116, Spanish Saga was a length and quarter off in third when running on promotion.
On current form, the first race, in my view, is confined to Captain Abdon and Spanish Saga. The Captain has done much better at Sunday’s level and with the switch to Sandesh, my vote goes to him.
In the second race, my choice is Magnolia. Dismissed at 10/1 in her debut as a four year-old, Magnolia ran fourth and was eight lengths off the winner. In Race 116 in Mumbai, Magnolia, now a five year-old mare, was the 11/10 favorite with N S Parmar. She was fourth again beaten a length and a quarter and she runs again in ten days.
Sunday’s jockey is Jim Crowley, It is Crowley’s first ride in India. As he left London late Friday for Mumbai, jockey Crowley won with his last two mounts at Loingfield Park. The fact that Magnolia was the 11/10 chalk tells a story. With Crowley in the saddle, it is reasonable to think that Magnolia will be able to elevate her game. Post 10 in the 1600-metre race will not be a handicap. It is not a given as Rain Dance, Azadegan, and Top Wizard check in fit for the fray. Normal progression is what Magnolia needs to deliver.
A word or two on Teofilo, Magnolia’s sire. A son of Galileo, Teofilo was the champion two year-old in Europe in 2006. He ran five times and won all those races. In the Group I National Stakes, Teofilo beat Holy Roman Emperor at the Curragh. Holy Roman Emperor went to Paris and was victorious in the Lagardere, Europe’s richest race for freshmen. In a rematch in Newmarket’s Dewhurst Stakes, Teofilo gained a narrow verdict over Holy Roman Emperor. Teofilo was made the early favorite for the 2007 Two Thousand Guineas and the Epsom Derby. An injury three weeks before the 2000 Guineas took him out of England’s first Classic and a promising career ended. A stallion, Teofilo is beginning to enjoy some success.
Paddy Power, the Irish betting behemoth, refunded the Guineas and Derby ante post wagers made on Teofilo because of the Irish connections. Jim Bolger, trainer of Teofilo, called the Galileo colt the best he had trained. Bolger rated Teofilo better than St Jovite. A son of Pleasant Colony, the Bolger-trained St Jovite won the Irish Derby in 1992 and also the King George VI Stakes at Ascot that summer. St Jovite, 27 years of age, died on Friday.
Let us now take a look at the sixth race, the 2000-metre R R Ruia Gold Cup. Phoenix Tiger is a tiger on the loose. His appetite is growing. The Phoenix Tower colt has won five races from six starts. The Todywalla pupil is yet to taste defeat with Colm O’Donoghue in the irons. Phoenix Tiger’s win in the 2000 Guineas was impressive. He did what needed to be done to win. The 2000-metre trip should not be a problem. O’Donoghue is a world class rider. He is capable of making smart decisions. Yes, there are worthy adversaries but Phoenix Tiger is in a class of his own. I do not see any chinks in his armour.
Airco is an above average sort but it is clear that he is not in the classic mould. Colombiana is one step below the required level but the Nanda-owned colt tries hard every time. The sparingly raced Gestapo is two for two and the son of Mastercraftsman has the services of Jim Crowley. Gestapo shows considerable promise but he lacks the exposure and experience of Phoenix Tiger. Jefferson has had some battling successes but I believe he needs to elevate his game a great deal to be effective. Magnificence lacks the tools to be a viable threat. Ostwind, the only horse in the Ruia field to have beaten Phoenix Tiger in Bangalore, gets Suraj Narredu. A son of Holy Roman Emperor, Ostwind has not kept pace in terms of development with his more accomplished rivals. Saker comes off a win in Race 16 in Mumbai and that was a 2000-metre race for 40-66 players. There is no question Saker is in deeper waters in the Ruia Cup. Sea Lord has a record that would normally be enviable but he has to reach new levels to have a shot. Sentosa Cove, a Teofilo gelding, is yet to show the potential that would make him a frontline contender.
The Magician is another I like in Sunday’s tenth race. He was a going-away winner in Race 102. He steps up and has drawn four. It was an optimism-generating victory. I believe The Magician can make another winning bid.
In Hyderabad, Vijay Vaishnavee goes for a hat trick in the opener. Given her cracking form and with P S Chouhan up, the daughter of Yeats, looks home and dry. Yeats won the 4000-metre Gold Cup at Royal Ascot four years in a row from 2006 to 2009.
Vijay Vidhata is in burning form and is the one to stop in the third race.
The Healer figures to be a deserving favorite in the fourth. The Healer is by Lord Shanakill. Jim Crowley’s Group I winner in France is Lord Shanakill. Jockey Crowley makes his Indian debut at Mahalakshmi on Sunday. A coincidence worthy of mention.