[The Indian Oaks video link is provided at end of post. The race was contested today.]
By Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)
Just last Sunday, Tiger Tops was beaten less than a length in the Eveready Calcutta Derby, Gr.1 and the consensus of opinion was that her jockey Zervan could have done better. She came down to Mahalakshmi racecourse in Mumbai by train, a distance of nearly 2000 kilometres, and her trainer Pesi Shroff decided to pitch her in the Villoo Poonawalla Indian Oaks, Gr.1. A change of jockey was called for and to secure the services of Irishman Colm O’Donoghue, the owners, M/s Haresh Mehta, Manav Mehta and Rakesh R. Jhunjunwalla, had to part with a quarter share to Mr. Pallon Mistry of Manjri Stud. O’Donoghue has been contracted to the Mistrys and local rules stipulate that a foreign jockey cannot accept rides outside his retainer.
The transaction paid handsome dividends for Tiger Tops (Tiger Hill – Cockayne, by Barathea), a free-running filly who gradually worked her way to the helm of affairs. She entered the final run-in ahead of her stablemate Aquamarine and sailed away to a comfortable three-length victory over Tatiana, owned by the Mistrys and who easily got the better of Aquamarine. The Razeen filly Classic Moment filled the lowest rung on the numbers board. The verdict was 3l, 5l, and 2 3/4l and the time of 2 mins. 29.73 was the second fastest in the 71 runnings of the 2400-m. race. It was a good day for the Mistrys and Colm O’Donoghue for they also won the Gool S. Poonawalla Million, Gr.3 on the undercard with their homebred filly Victoria Harbour.
Cockayne, the dam of Tiger Tops, was a winner of 4 races in Italy including the Premio Andred, L over 2200 m. She was withdrawn from the Tattersalls 2010 sale and purchased privately for Sohna Stud by Irish agent Hugo Merry. The stud of Tiger Tops’ foaling is shown officially as ‘Privately’ and it is probable that the Oaks winner was born while Cockayne was still in quarantine. Though Cockayne’s sire is the Classic miler Barathea, he is a son of Sadler’s Wells and the next three damsires — Shirley Heights, Blakeney and Acropolis — are very strong stamina influences. All Moonshine, the sixth dam of Tiger Tops, is a three-parts sister of the great Hyperion. This stirps of the Serenissima family has produced Everyday II, a Champion Sire in India, as well as Sir Tristram, a Champion Sire in New Zealand.
Today’s win gave Colm O’Donoghue his fifth Indian Classic victory while it was the fourth for the trainer Pesi Shroff, a former Champion Jockey. O’Donoghue had earlier ridden winners of Indian 1000 Guineas, Indian 2000 Guineas and the Indian Derby. It is unlikely that he can complete a clean sweep because the Indian St. Leger is run in Pune in September when he is busy with his Irish engagements. Tiger Tops carries the Danehill-Sadler’s cross that is so successful. Another point of interest is that the last three winners of the Indian Oaks were sired, like today, by a son of Danehill. Holy Roman Emperor got Smashing in 2012; Mull of Kintyre was the sire of 2013 winner Maple Star while last year’s winner Isn’t She Special is a daughter of Ace.
to see the video.
[India is a Part 2 country for IFHA Grades, and her Graded races are listed here for informational purposes.The primary Indian Classics are the 1000 and 2000 Guineas, Derby, and Oaks contested at Mahalakshmi racecourse in Mumbai and the St. Leger in Pune in September.]