| Vijay Singh with Romantic Notes
The performance of the male force in last Sunday’s Kingfisher Calcutta Derby Stakes notwithstanding, it was also the reversal of Oaks’ form that foxed many after Romantic Notes asserted her authority in the premier event of the season.
The Vijay Singh-trained filly by Mischevious Music out of Pheasant Heights had lost the Oaks to Daniel David-ward by a proverbial whisker. Romantic Notes had, however, won the 1,000 Guineas in a very convincing manner.
However, the reversal form had not shocked the two trainers who had banked heavily on their respective male horses, Network and Nationalistic. The two, incidentally, had gone to the start as firm favourites.
In fact, the two trainers had somewhat similar views to share after the race. They felt Romantic Notes had retained her Oaks form, if not improving on it. Another Time, on the other hand, may not have relished her second Derby trip in barely a fortnight’s time.
In the Oaks, then ridden by Cristopher Alford, Romantic Notes had come the shortest way home to shoot into the lead nearing the distance-post. She was beaten virtually in her last stride.
However, Shanker on this day, preferred to give his six rivals a slip nearing the 600-metre post as he took off with a near three-length lead. The opposition, perhaps, expected the Vijay Singh-trainee to shorten her strides around the distance-post, something that did not happen as she had kicked on to score by a length.
The 1,200m Alokananda Stakes, known to be a starting point for the classic fillies in the making, also produced a shocker in Evangeline.
Making her debut, the Bharath Singh-trainee, by Excalibur’s Lake out of Glowing Tribute, won well after allowing Toe Poke and the favourite Blushing Queen to dictate terms till the home-turn. Vijay’s Enchanted, who was also a strong fancy, finished a good second, a shade under 2 lengths behind. The favourite was, however, no match for the field and ended up a poor fifth.
The only other outsider to play spoilsport was Daniel’s Royal Command, on a day that was otherwise ruled by favourites and fancied winners. A disappointing second to Arian over an 1,100m scurry on the New Year’s Day, Royal Command made known his penchant for longer sprints when the four-year-old came with a sustained run from the rear to claim the 1,400-metre Misty Melody Cup.
But, the Excalibur’s Lake-Bruno Conti son does not seem to be much of a horse. In the same race, attracting a substantial amount of betting despite 60-kg on his back, the even-money favourite Arrival found his topweight a stopper thus ending up a decent third.
Almost all the favourites adopted waiting tactics as they won their respective events. Calbar, a half-money favourite in the 1,100-metre Voluntary Cup, won despite his distance constraints. The White Crown-All System Go was no match for speedsters like Sovereign Bullet and Abandoned early in the journey but took control of the race below the distance-post after Cristopher Alford came the shortest way home to beat Abandoned.
Daniel’s Discomatic and Raring To Go cashed in on their handicap advantage in the respectiive events. Vijay’s Amicable, on the other hand, was cut above her rivals in the Arabian Rose Cup that the topweight won from in the hands of Shanker. Announcer, another of Vijay-trainee, made it a well-earned treble for Shanker in the Zara Shah Cup.