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Posted on - 12 Feb 2019

- By Cyrus Naterwalla
One of the Premier Sprint Races of the season and the proverbial ‘lead up’ race for potential Sprinters Cup Candidates – the Dr. S. C. Jain Sprinters Championship has often been a good indicator to predicting the winner of the Sprinters Cup as horses winning this have an extremely good record in the Sprinters Cup. This race has had a tendency to be dominated by the Champion Sprinter of that particular crop with several horses having gone on to win this race in back to back years, Dancing Prances in fact claiming it thrice in succession before Ruffina claimed the crown last year. The role of honour for this prestigious event includes the likes of Indiscretion, Palazzio, Oyster Cove and Oasis Star – all of whom won the race in consecutive years. This year’s renewal – the 26th running lost a little bit of it’s sheen and lustre when the piping hot favourite – the Wonder Filly Ruffina was withdrawn on the morning of the race robbing the Mahalaxmi rail birds of perhaps their last opportunity to see the Queen Filly in action as she will reportedly be retired to stud after attempting to defend her Sprinters Cup Crown in Hyderabad. She would almost certainly have been yet another to claim the race in back to back years. However, her absence brought about an added edge of competitiveness of the contest with the race now wearing a much more open look. The new favourite was now the Vishal Gaikwad trained Bateleur who had been supplemented for the race as a Final Entry with the consistent St. Andrews 2nd in demand. Bateleur towered over the rest in the paddock, a strong and muscly type who looked particularly well. The others who caught the eye were the Pesi Shroff trained pair of Captain Courage and Lincoln while the filly Clymene held her own in looks against the colts.
The race got off to a blistering start with the speedsters Iron Age and Lincoln both vying for command and setting up a scorching gallop. Bateleur was settled into 3rd by Leigh Roche holding the fence with Captain Courage racing a close 4th up on the outside. Very close behind came the veteran Holy Smoke, one of 3 horses sporting the claret and gold colours with St. Andrews 2nd last and the filly Clymene held up for a late burst and racing last of the 7. Iron Age led them into the straight with Lincoln in hot pursuit, Bateleur still travelling well in 3rd but just a bit short of room as St. Andrews made a strong forward move on the outside. Captain Courage was in 5th spot just in behind with Holy Smoke already under strong pressure on the outside and Clymene still waiting to make her move. Iron Age was joined at the furlong pole by St. Andrews who came with a powerful run to take it up with Captain Courage now bursting onto the scene with a strong run under P.S. Chouhan followed by Bateleur who looked to be in trouble and Clymene. St. Andrews was strongly challenged 100M from home by Captain Courage who was clearly moving the better of the pair and he whizzed past in the final strides to score a stunning upset and win decisively by a little over 2 lengths. St. Andrews once again was forced to play bridesmaid and a Group class Sprint Title continues to elude him. There was a break of ¾ length back to Clymene who ran on late with Holy Smoke getting up right on the post to nose Bateleur out of the frame by a whisker.
On this showing, Captain Courage who used to be a top sprinter in his younger days, showed that he is back to his best and is likely to take his chance in the Sprinters Cup now. He may struggle in tougher company but his trainer has him looking immaculate.
Thus this years renewal provided a rare upset in a race which has an excellent record for favourites but the day belonged to Pesi Shroff and Captain Courage 
(Disclaimer : Views are entirely that of the correspondent only and RWITC takes no responsibility for the same)  

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