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Posted on - 25 Feb 2017


-By Cyrus Naterwalla

The Poonawalla Breeders Multi Million is the richest and most sought after Juvenile Race in the country and the one which every owner, trainer and jockey aspires to win in their first season. Beginning way back in 1990, this race has now entered it’s 3rd decade and has grown leaps and bounds in both it’s stature and it’s popularity. The first of its kind “Million Race for Juveniles” it set the stage for the plethora of Juvenile millions which are now on offer. Besides the race itself, the incentive of winning a brand new car plus an array of other attractive prizes offered by the Poonawalla family attract thousands to the Mahalaxmi Race Course resulting invariably in a large turnout. The role of honour for this premier race includes great horses like Forest Fantasy, Indiscretion, Haunting Memories, Autonomy, Murioi and Costa Del Sol just to name a few and last year it was Accolade who stormed his way to glory. Having saddled the previous 2 winners in the form of Costa Del Sol and Accolade, Pesi Shroff will be attempting to saddle a hat-trick of winners although his entry Lincoln has a lesser profile than the previous 2 winners had. Dr. M. A. M. Ramaswamy has a stranglehold on this race having won it no fewer than 7 times starting with the great Forest Fantasy way back in 1997. He also has the unique distinction of scoring a hat-trick in this race, through Noble Opinion, Priceless and Secret Romeo. The Poonawalla family have won this race just once in their own colours with Her Excellency way back in 1999 and stand an excellent chance to do so with Ruffina. Interestingly both times, there has been a foreign jockey on board. Her Excellency was ridden by N.G. Mccullagh while Ruffina will be ridden by David Allan. Out station challengers have enjoyed limited success with this race, particularly of late with Murioi back in 2013 the last Bangalore challenger to win.
An analysis of the principal contenders for the PoonawallaBreeders’Multi Million 2017
RUFFINA  (Excellent Art x Miss Danehill)   Trainer :- Dallas Todywalla Jockey :-David Allan
Ruffina appears to give the Poonawalla Family their first realistic chance of winning this race in their own colours since Her Excellency galloped to a popular win in 1999. She is unbeaten in 2 starts till date, both over 6 furlongs and has been improving with every run. Her debut win looked just decent as she was hard pressed to win from Raiden and Admo prevailing hard ridden by a little over a length. However, she looked a different filly in her next start – The Gool S. Poonawalla Million where she absolutely pulverized what looked a potentially strong field, coming with a smooth run to take charge shortly after entering the straight and leaving her rivals floundering in her wake, scoring a brilliant 7 ½ length win in a cracking time of 1.09.80 which is just a fraction off the course record. She has been working superbly since that run and should be spot on for this race. There are slight concerns for Ruffina on the pedigree front though. Both her half sisters Lady Danehill and Polished Chrome were at their best over 5 furlongs and just about lasted out the 6th while her half brother Lucky Pineapple also did all his winning over 6 furlongs. Excellent Art could possibly inject a bit of stamina into the mix and to her credit she did not appear to be stopping last time out. In David Allan she has a shrewd tactician who is likely to preserve her stamina to the maximum and make his move at just the right time. She appears to be one of the front line contenders and has an outstanding chance
TUTANKHAMUN (Phoenix Tower x Dancerllon)  Trainer :- S. Narredu Jockey :- Suraj Narredu
Tutankhamun travelled here from Bangalore after scoring an effortless maiden victory winning by 3 ¼ lengths and proved that was no fluke by scoring a facile victory in The Breeders’ Produce Stakes which is one of the traditional lead up events for this race. He drifted right across the course on that day finishing the race on the outer rail but the reason for that apparently was a wolf tooth on his left side and not a behavioural indiscretion. He still won with authority from Timeless and his subsequent work has been excellent indicating that he has improved again. He has the advantage of having already travelled over this distance so stamina will not be a problem and with SurajNarredu retaining the ride, a big run is expected. While Phoenix Tower has already proved himself as a juvenile sire, the mare Dancerllon has been standing at Manjri Stud for a while now but has produced just average progeny until date. The full sister Bubbly Bellini began racing in Western India and won a maiden over 6 furlongs before she travelled to Calcutta where she won 1 more race over 2000M. Full brother Dad’s Dollar won 2 of his 11 starts in Hyderabad and was a useful performer while the other full brother Decathlon was the best performed winning 7 of his 22 starts in Hyderabad mainly over 6 and 7 furlongs. Tutankhamun looks the strongest of the out station challengers and another frontline contender
PHOENIX FALCON (Phoenix Tower x Miss Takeortwo) Trainer :- Rajesh Narredu Jockey :- Colm O’ Donoghue
Was the winner of two early season races in Bangalore, winning most impressively over 1100M and then over 1200M. He was brought to Mumbai early to get him acclimatized to the conditions and underwent a recent Mock Race to get a feel of the track. He has been judiciously prepared by his Trainer with this event in view and it is interesting that Colm O’Donoghue who has been especially flown down for this race, has been declared on this horse from amongst the 4 horses entered by his owner. Phoenix Falcon too is yet to traverse the 7 furlong trip and his full sister Evalina did all of her winning over 6 furlongs, winning 4 of her 14 starts. She did place over trips upto a mile and it is hoped that Phoenix Falcon should at least get this additional furlong. He is well prepared, has an adept rider in the saddle and is expected to run a very big race
PERFECT STAR (Excellent Art x Free Radical)  Trainer :- Karthik Ganapathy Jockey :- P.S. Chouhan
Perfect Star is a winner of one of his 2 races, finishing a close 2nd to Glyndebourne on debut where he was green and drifted out at the bend, losing valuable ground and lost out by a whisker due to inexperience. He then contested the Dr. M.A.M. Ramaswamy Multi Million on Derby Day over a mile and absolutely crushed his rivals, winning as he pleased by 3 ¾ lengths. He has been working arguably the best of all these runners and one only hopes he has not expended all his energy on the track. He looks fit and raring to go and stamina will clearly not be an issue. Glyndebourne finished way behind Tutankhamun on her next start so he will need to improve substantially on the form front but he looks in fine trim and must make the short list. Free Radical herself the winner of the 1000 Guineas has been a fine brood mare producing greats such as Nora, Star of Venus, Rosalind and Equine Lover so he has an excellent pedigree to boot
AWESOME HOOVES (Phoenix Tower x Dance To The Tune)  Trainer :- Shazaan Shah  Jockey :- Y.S. Srinath
Young Shazaan Shah has just recently received his license to train taking over from his father Mansoor Shah and it will be a phenomenal achievement if he were to saddle a winner of this race on his first attempt. He has a very interesting contender in the shape of Awesome Hooves who made his debut in the B.K. Rattonsey Multi Million on Derby Day and showed a fine turn of foot to overwhelm the hot favourite Benefactor and win with a measure of comfort. Benefactor will be competing in a race earlier on the card so the form will be put to the test but Awesome Hooves is sure to improve significantly from his debut run and has also been working very well since. Y.S. Srinath has been flown down from Bangalore to take the ride and his connections would be very hopeful. He is the first foal of Dance To The Tune so there is not much to go on from the pedigree standpoint
AUTOCRATIC (Burden of Proof x Efrhina )Trainer :-  S.S. Attaollahi Jockey :- P. Trevor
Autocratic is a half brother to the great Amazing Grace who proved herself one of the best of her generation albeit over distance trips. He was a comfortable winner of his maiden over 6 furlongs in Bangalore after which he travelled across to Hyderabad to contest the Darley Arabian Million in which he finished a neck 2nd to Chase Your Dreams. He has since been brought to Mumbai to compete in this prestigious contest and has been working fairly well. We may not have yet seen the best of Autocratic and it was these very colours which were carried to victory last year by Accolade. He does merit consideration but looks more of a place contender
LINCOLN (Excelebration x Evelyn May)  Trainer :- P. Shroff   Jockey :- Neeraj Rawal
Lincoln has had two runs till date and both of those have been over 5 furlongs so he is taking a significant step up in trip. He finished 2nd to Miss Moneypenny on debut and then proceeded to win The Sohna Stud Million also over 5 furlongs on Derby Day. Miss Moneypenny was soundly beaten by Ruffina next time out and the race he won also looked an extremely weak field so Lincoln will need to improve tremendously on the bare form if he is to trouble the principals. His work over 7 furlongs has been just modest and he too looks more likely to challenge for the minor places, if he were to stay the 7 furlong trip. He is the first foal of Evelyn May to race in India so the pedigree is an unknown and he looks a good outsider but it will be surprising if he were good enough to win this
TIMELESS (Surfrider x Showstopper)  Trainer :-  S.K. Sunderji  Jockey :- A. Imran Khan
Timeless has raced twice until date over 6 furlongs and then over 7 furlongs. She came with a rattling run from the rear to peg back Windsor Forest on 6 furlongs on debut and Windsor Forest has gone on to win subsequently, franking that form. She then chased home Tutankhamun in The Breeders’ Produce Stakes finishing 3 lengths adrift that day. She has been working very well since that run and should have improved again although there is no obvious reason on paper why she should reverse form with Tutankhamun. That being said she seems to be in good heart and could be another interesting outsider who could make the frame.
ANGELS TOUCH (Excellent Art x Lady Moura)  Trainer :-Karthik Ganapathy Jockey :- A. Sandesh
A powerful looking daughter of Excellent Art, Angels Touch ran a fine race over 7 furlongs on debut, finishing an excellent close 3rd to Windsor Forest and Rochester, both of whom had the benefit of prior experience. She ties in very closely to Timeless on that run and is expected to improve appreciably with the experience. Again needing to find a lot on the bare form, she looks an outsider who could sneak into the first four and warrants some consideration for those who prefer to avoid the favourites.
As usual this promises to be a fiercely competitive affair. To help newcomers and first timers for the purposes of the contest my tentative 1 -2 -3 -4 are as follows .
1.      Ruffina   2. Tutankhamun    3. Awesome Hooves   4. Phoenix Falcon
 (Disclaimer : Views are entirely that of the correspondent only and RWITC takes no responsibility for the same)

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