[Video of Indian Oaks below] A brilliant tactical ride, planned by jockey David Allan and that very astute trainer S. Padmanabhan, saw Isn’t She Special (Ace – Rain Splasher) lift the Villoo Poonawalla Indian Oaks, Gr.1 at Mahalakshmi on Saturday. She was quickly off the blocks but the jockey was happy to sit behind the favourite Circle of Life’s pacemaker till about the half-way stage when he sent the winner on and she opened a gap of about eight lengths over the main field. Given a breather approaching the final bend, a no-hoper ranged alongside her which shook her out of her lethargy and she picked up again to enter the straight well in clear and lasted out by three-parts of a length from Circle of Life (R. Hughes). Keukenhof (by Multidimensional) took the third place two and a quarter lengths behind, just a short-head in front of To The Manor Born. The time of 2.30.95 was the fourth fastest for the race in 71 renewals.
Isn’t She Special is owned by Capt. Jamshed J. Appoo who, in about 15 years of racing, has won a string of big races most notably with In The Spotlight. He has previously had winners of the Indian 2000 Guineas (Rapidash), Indian Derby, Gr.1 (In The Spotlight) and Indian St. Leger, Gr.1 (In The Spotlight and Noble Prince) and just needs a winner of the Indian 1000 Guineas, Gr.1 to complete a full hand. Capt. Appoo has been diagnosed with a serious ailment and he would have been considerably buoyed as he led in Isn’t She Special.
For Ace, the Danehill sire of Isn’t She Special, this was a first Gr.1 success and the filly gave him his first black-type win beyond a mile. Ace, of course, had run second in John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf, Gr.1 to Shirocco at Belmont Park. Isn’t She Special also gave the Poonawallas—who sponsored the race—their 15th winner of the Indian Oaks as breeder. The Schiaparelli family has played a huge role in the Poonawalla success since Charenzaccio and her daughter were imported in 1980s. They added Ratifia in 1990 and two years later came Ratifia’s daughter Rasant. Isn’t She Special’s dam Rain Splasher, a daughter of Rasant, was sent out by Padmanabhan to win the Golconda Oaks, Gr.2 for Capt Appoo. Rain Splasher is a half-sister to Thunder Blitz and A.B. Noodle, two Gr.3 winners in U.S.A. David Allan had another winner on the day for 84/1 double.
The most important race on the undercard was the Gool S. Poonawalla Million Gr.3 for the new crop and it was won by Shivalik Storm, a son of Dancing Forever (Rahy – Dancinginmydreams). Dancing Forever thus became the First Freshman Sire to get a black-type winner. Unfortunately, Dancing Forever, a winner of Woodford Reserve Manhattan Stakes, Gr.1, died last June but he will have four crops in India to race. His barn-mate Rebuttal, too, died later at Hazara Stud. That will temper the Hazara joy of ending the last year as the Champion Stud Farm.
Usha Stud’s Danehill horse Multidimensional, whose daughter placed third, has been having a splendid run. There has hardly been a Classic where one of his first crop member has failed to win or place. With six individual Classic winners — that’s counting the regional Classics as well — he has set a new record for a first crop sire.
(Video courtesy of RWITC Mumbai)