The Indian Champion Cup has not really attained the desired heights. It is not only because of the poor stakes offered by the RCTC in view of shying away sponsors from the sports, it is also due to the close proximity of some classy events that leaves the hopefuls with precisely little time to adjust dates between the city Derby and the other prime events, including the all-important Indian Turf Invitation Cup that is held by rotation at the country’s five turf centres.
Therefore the noble idea to determine the first among equals — the champion horse from among the present and those of yesteryears — has not caught up with the horse owners.
Nevertheless, last Thursday’s Champion Cup was claimed by a five-year-old mare Calorescence, from trainer Vijay Singh’s yard. The Metal Precieux-Pot Of Gold daughter, of course, did not achieve anything significant during her southern sojourn after missing the last winter Derby in a desperately close finish.
The ensuing season has, however, seen her in a different light. She has three brilliant wins already to her credit in as many starts this season — the BTC Cup, the Calcutta Gold Cup and now the Indian Champion Cup.
Cristopher Alford partnered the Deepak Khaitan-property. But all credit to her mentor who is, incidentally, having good success with the fair sex as his recent Derby-winning filly Romantic Notes is also taking the course charted out for her.
Another filly who went about asserting her authority in a decent field of 10 was Evangeline. Trained by Vijay’s equally crafty brother, Bharath Singh, the Excalibur’s Lake-Glowing Tribute daughter gave the weight and handed a sound beating to all in upper division of the Rising Star Plate. Her progress over classic trips will be watched with interest.
Bharath was, however, a trifle unlucky in the lower division of the race as his debutant ward, Rock Music, failed narrowly to a relatively experienced Blushing Queen from Daniel David’s yard.
The victories of Anokato and Shining Jewel had helped Daniel and Vijay open their accounts earlier in the afternoon — in the Republic Cup and the Allied Forces Cup, respectively. The two horses have in them to post a repeat victory.
Only five days earlier, on January 18, Anokato had found a serious threat from Flossy in a set lower, Class III, the Malavika Handicap. But on that occasion, jockey C. Ruzaan, doing duty on the five-year-old, had got himself boxed in along the rails before making his winning move.
On the same day Comedy of Errors had turned out to be a giant-killer in the HSBC Cup, a 1,200m sprint. Taking measure of the likes of Strengthtostrengths, Bold Chieftans and River Melodys was no easy a task but Imran Chisty, on the Richard Alford-trainee, did manage to win by a shade under a length after allowing the lowly-weighted ‘Melodys’ to call the tune till a furlong from home.
Equally courageous was the winning performance of Andreno who virtually lifted the 1,400m Indian Champagne Stakes from the start. S. Shanker partnered the Excalibur’s Lake-Star Of Light three-year-old from Vijay Singh’s yard.
Interestingly, Shanker has been a bundle of confidence this season. He has been taking full advantage of fewer opportunities coming his way. Shanker was the one on Romantic Notes to outsmart all in the Derby.