Had Fats Domino, the legendary Rock and Roll musician of the 1950s, been around, he would probably have altered the lyrics of Blueberry Hill to sound like “The Moon stood Still on Chamundi Hill.”

It was almost as if life in this city had come to a standstill on Saturday because every road led to the Mysore Race Club, which was bursting at the seams as it struggled to cope with the sea of humanity that had descended to witness the first day of the Invitation Cup Weekend.

For those who say “It doesn’t get better than this,” eat your words, because Sunday will probably see crowds spill over as the youngest of India’s Turf Authorities showcases the Indian Turf Invitation Cup (Grade 1), the ‘mother of all races’, which will crown the new Champion of the Indian Turf.

The roar that greets the newly-crowned king or queen will reverberate around the historic racetrack and will echo for years to come and they will all say that this was indeed their finest hour. Billed as the sixth race in a fabulously competitive race card, the Invitation Cup will have the Grade 1 Major P.K. Mehra Super Mile backing it up.

Two more graded races

As the very name suggests, this is a race for specialist milers. The mile has been eulogised from the time Sir Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mark in May 1954 and since then, there has always been something of a romance about the Mile in athletics and on the Turf.

The Suresh Mahindra Multi Million (Grade 2) will be the third graded race on the card to give the icing to yet another action-packed afternoon at the picturesque MRC.

Ever since the Invitation Cup was run in its new avatar back in 2013, it has been won by a 4-year-old. On every occasion the horse had to work for the victory, but the record books will show that from 2013 to 2019 it has been a horse of Classic vintage that has come out on top, beating the 5 & 6-year-olds. The start of a new decade may well see this run come to an end.

War Hammer, the unbeaten four-year-old, will be missing from the line-up of 14 because of an injury has forced him out and although there are nine 4-year-olds, form and handicap seem to suggest that it could be a 5-year-old who is going to be crowned champion.

Quasar came agonisingly close to becoming the first horse to win the Invitation twice in succession, but he was denied in 2016 by Desert God. A 5-year-old bay mare Adjudicate (Multidimensional-Alvarita), who hails from Kolkata, will be aiming for that glory. Trained by James Mckeown, she won the Invitation in Hyderabad last year, pegging back Desert God and Star Superior (Excellent Art-Ramjet). The same pair will be there to take her on again and it promises to be a real battle of the sexes.

Desert God there, but…

Desert God (Burden of Proof-Running Flame) is now eight years old. Last year, he gave Adjudicate and Star Superior a weight advantage of 3.5 and 2kg respectively not to mention three years in age.

This year he meets them on virtually level terms (bar the sex allowance) but he’s one year older and although he’s still looking magnificent, he’s the oldest horse in the race. His run in the Indian Champion Cup in Kolkata in January this year has not added to his chances. That now seems to suggest that the mare Adjudicate and the bay rig Star Superior are going to renew their rivalry. It’s billed as a ‘battle of the sexes’. Billie Jean King against Bobby Rigs. But is it going to pan out the same way as that epic clash ?

On current form, Star Superior has the edge. Bar that one defeat last year in Hyderabad, he is undefeated in five starts. He met Adjudicate on three separate occasions, ranging from 2200 metres to the metric mile, and proved better each time. Of course they have been close and the verdict in the last two meetings have been just half a length. What’s it going to be this time?

Whatever it is, it is going to be a race travelling miles to see and the Major P.K. Mehra Super Mile and the Suresh Mahindra Multi-Million will make it an afternoon to remember forever in the archives of the Mysore Race Club.

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