Moonlight Romance and Richard Hughes win Invitational

(This report was filed from India by Major Srinivas Nargolkar, the former Keeper of the Indian Stud Book.)

MUMBAI–Moonlight Romance (China Visit – Wandering Star, by Razeen), driven vigorously by Richard Hughes in the closing stages, held on by half a length from Xisca (China Visit – Altimara, by Razeen) today to become only the second filly to record the Indian Derby-Invitation Cup double. Revelation, the first one to do so in 1985, was also bred at Usha Stud like Moonlight Romance. It was also the first time that two fillies have finished 1-2 in the race. China Visit, sire of the Sprinters’ Cup winner Attila yesterday, is flying at the moment and he joins Valoroso, Everyday II, Riyahi and Razeen, the previous stallions with a 1-2 to their credit. What makes China Visit’s feat unique is that both the fillies are bred on the same cross.

As expected, Moon Star went to the front and he was followed by the unbeaten Hyderabad challenger Business Tycoon with Ocean and Beyond and Moonlight Romance holding handy positions. At about the 1100 m. mark, Business Tycoon broke down and while that did create some traffic problems for those behind, there was fortunately nothing more serious. Moon Star ushered the field into the straight and he was immediately taken on—albeit under urging—by Ocean and Beyond while Moonlight Romance cruised up to join the issue. Moonlight Romance had no problem in shaking off Ocean and Beyond but Xisca, who came from farther back, posed a greater threat. However, Hughes had got the first run and the filly stuck on gamely. Ocean and Beyond finished third with Machupicchu fourth. The verdict was half a length, two and three fourth lengths and two lengths and time was 2.31.82. The first four in the Indian Derby again took the first four places and the only time that has happened earlier was in 1980. The horses involved then were Everynsky, Aristocrat, Mohawk—winner of the Indian Derby earlier—and Victoria Falls.

The pentrometer reading on the Derby day last month and today was an identical 2.1. However, Moonlight Romance clocked a much slower time. The reason obviously was the lone pacemaker. In the Derby, Team Wadhwan had employed two pacemakers, Sunlight taking over from Ocean Admiral before the final bend to inject further pace.  Hughes must have felt relieved to have made the correct choice here and rode his third Invitation Cup winner; he was on Running Flame and Smart Chieftan earlier. For Mr. Rakesh Kumar Wadhwan and his partners it was their first winner of the race as it was for trainer C.D. Katrak. With the winner and the third placed Ocean and Beyond being owned by Team Wadhwan, a substantial portion of the Sponsorship money was recovered ! With its tenth winner, Usha Stud moved closer to Poonawalla Farms’ tally of a dozen.

Razeen and Placerville, both of whom died recently, had a good Invitation Cup weekend. Placerville’s hat-trick of wins included Mr. Greedy, a 7-year-old gelding who won the Maj. P.K. Mehra Memorial Super Mile. That race honours the man who founded the Usha Stud where Razeen stood. Razeen, who matched Placerville’s treble with a double of his own today, really hogged the limelight as the broodmare sire of  the Sprinters’ Cup winner Attila and Stayers’ Cup victor Arabian Prince (by Burden of Proof) and the 1-2 in the showpiece event. Arabian Prince is a half-brother to Arabian Knight who had won the same race in 2008.

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