Jacqueline (King Charlemagne – Talita Kumi by High Estate) captured (see video at end of post) the first classic of the year today (Dec. 13) when sauntering home in the Giantti Gitanjali Indian 1000 Guineas, Gr.1, (Race 7), at the Mahalakshmi race course in Mumbai. Richard Hughes, flown down specially to ride her, rode a super cool race, keeping her switched off at the back — at the half-way point he had just one behind him — in the 11-filly field, made his way the shortest way around and was poised behind the stable-mate Astral Flash mid-way up the straight. A crack or two saw Jacqueline bound forward with such a gusto that the whip was put away. Ridden hands and heels thereafter, she spared two lengths and a quarter to Astral Flash at the finish, clocking 1.36.42. (For the record, Set Alight had stopped the clock at 1.35.59 when winning this race last year).
Jacqueline carried the colours Mr. Vijay Shirke who owns her in partnership with Mr. & Mrs K.N. Dhunjibhoy. The two gentlemen are former committee members and stewards of Royal Western India Turf Club and the partership had a field day with a splendid treble, all winners being saddled by Pesi Shroff. The Dhunjibhoys had another winner in their own silks as the icing on the cake.
Pesi Shroff is sweeping everything before him this year at Mumbai having saddled six winners on the opening day. The former champion jockey — he has eight winners of the Indian Derby to his credit — is setting a hot pace indeed. Last year’s star filly Set Alight was boarded in his yard as is Astral Flash. Astral Flash is owned by Dr. Vijay Mallya but his stable jockey, Irishman Chris Hayes, preferred his other runner, the Golconda 1000 Guineas winner Celestial Way, who failed to make an impression here.
The winning filly was born at Sohna Stud, which is located within a hailing distance of India’s capital, New Delhi. The High Estate mare Talita Kumi, carrying Jacqueline ‘in-utero’ was purchased at Goff’s Sale in Ireland in 2005 for €11,000 through Hugo Merry Bloodstock. The mare herself was a winner of three races over middle distances in Germany. Jacqueline’s first four dams are all winners and the catalogue page reveals two German champions in Tiger Hill — now a Darley stallion — and Tigerin. The tail-female line goes back to Brown Bess through the brilliant filly La Fleche (1000 Guineas, Oaks and St. Leger). Interestingly, La Fleche was owned by Baron Maurice de Hirsch so it was perhaps destined that a stirps of the family should flourish later in Germany.
Read Major Nargolkar’s classic season preview post from Dec. 3 here.
See the video below. Jacqueline is the only filly one of two fillies in the race with a wide, white blaze. She’s kept on the rail by Hughes, at the back of the pack. The other filly with a blaze is equipped with a white shadow roll.