Macchupicchu (Emerald Cat– Anaroma by Razeen), owned by Messrs. Berjis Minoo Desai, Vijay B. Shrike & K.N. Dhunjibhoy, won the McDowell Signature Indian St. Leger, Gr.1, in fine style at Pune Sunday, clocking a time of 2 mins. 57.3 secs. for the 2800 m. trip and justifying his position as the 7/4 favourite in a small field of five runners. He had won the Idar Gold Cup, Gr.3, a fortnight ago on the same track. Ordained One, winner of the President of India Gold Cup, Gr.1, at Hyderabad last Sunday, was next in demand overnight but drifted to 5/1 leaving last year’s Pune Derby, Gr.1, winner Ocean and Beyond as the second favourite at 11/4. Ordained One’s stablemate Frost Fairy, the only filly and the only grey in field, streaked to the front and led by lengths down the backstretch with Macchupicchu in her wake. The filly was reeled in comfortably just before the final bend as the winner went ahead. Ocean and Beyond shook off Ordained One and briefly posed a challenge to the winner but once the jockey B. Prakash pulled out his whip, Macchupicchu began to draw away. The winning margin was 2 lengths with Ordained One a further 3 3/4 lengths back in third. Macchupicchu was saddled by Pesi Shroff.
The Indian St. Leger was originally run as the Governor-General’s Cup at Mumbai. The name was changed to the Indian St. Leger after India became a republic in 1950. In 1970, the race was moved to Pune and the next 21 runnings took place at the monsoon centre. It was back to Mumbai in 1991. The move to Pune, once again, is perhaps prompted by the hope that postponing the race would help to draw a bigger field. Statistics show that the average field at Pune was 5 runners –exactly the same number as this year — while 7 used to take part at Mumbai. That said, the undulating track at Pune and the unsettled weather which provides a variety of goings — from soft to boggy –offers a sterner test of stamina.
Macchupicchu was bred at the Usha Stud. His third dam, the Reliance II mare Self Reliance, raced in the colours of Maj. & Mrs. P.K. Mehra and the young Ms. Ameeta Mehra. Self Reliance herself won the South India St. Leger in record time and has established herself as a ‘blue hen’ par excellence, passing on classic stamina. It would be hard to find another mare in India in recent times who can boast of being the ancestress of as many long-distance winners as her. Arabian Knight, Arabian Prince (both winners of the Stayers’ Cup, 3000 m.), St. Leger winners Own Vision and Accomplish and the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2800 m.) victor Azureus and now Macchupicchu. Macchupicchu is from the first crop of the Storm Cat horse Emerald Cat — inbred to Almahmoud through Natalma and Cosmah — who stood at Mr. Berjis Desai’s Capricorn Stud before his untimely death after only his third covering season. Macchupicchu’s dam Anaroma was just finishing her racing in Mumbai when Emerald Cat arrived at Capricorn Stud near Pune and Ms. Ameeta Mehra decided to send her to the new arrival before taking her north to Usha Stud. The decision has paid handsome dividends. Macchupicchu’s time bettered by 1.4 secs the old race and track record established by Capricorn, an Usha-bred, in 1987.
Incidentally, when Ordained One won the President of India Gold Cup last week at Hyderabad, he short-headed Arabian Prince. Macchupicchu extracted ample revenge today in Pune for the defeat of his ‘cousin’ Arabian Prince.