The magnificent Mysuru Palace in the centre of the city of Mysuru is said to represent a blend of Hindu, Islamic, Gothic and Rajput architectural styles.

This is one of the biggest tourist attractions going, but on this last Saturday of February and that too in the Leap Year, it will be the Mysore Race Club that will hold centre stage, as they gear up to host the first day of Indian Racing’s showpiece of the year, the Invitation Cup Weekend.

The two star attractions of Saturday will be the running of the Bangalore Turf Club Sprinters Cup — a test for speed run over 1200 metres and the Dr. M. A. M. Ramaswamy Stayers Cup, a gruelling test of stamina run over 3000 metres.

Both these Races are Grade 1 affairs and they have attracted the best Sprinters and Stayers in the country.

It will be the speed merchants who will be first to set the track alight.

Scheduled as the 6th Race of a fantastic card of eight events, the Bangalore Turf Club Sprinters Cup has attracted a field of ten of the best and there’s every likelihood that the 2016 Track Record, set by Phoenix Fire of 1min. 08.94 sec, is going to be broken.

In the course of the last twelve years, five horses have won the Sprinters Cup back-to-back.

In fact it has been an almost continuous cycle broken just twice in that period of time. Two were fillies — Oasis Star in 2008 and 2009 and Ruffina in 2018 and 2019 — and both were a class apart and will go down in the annals of history as wonder fillies of the turf.

Atilla, Nefyn and Adam were the three geldings who are credited with the Sprinters Double, but none of them shared the hype and the reputation that Oasis Star and Ruffina had built up.

Absolute face-off

The race this year has all the qualities of a match race between the Bangalore-based Multifaceted (by Multidimensional-Dhaawiah) on the one side against the Bombay-based 5-year-old Iron Age (Strong Suit-Intrigue).

The former is bred at the Usha Stud, trained by Darius Byramji and will be ridden by Suraj Narredu.

The latter hails from the Manjri Stud, is trained by veteran champion trainer Imtiaz Sait and will be ridden by retained jockey P. Trevor. It’s an absolute face off.

The other eight to all intents and purposes are supposedly running for the minor placings. A quick look at the form will explain why.

Iron Age has 10 wins from 14 starts and he’s unbeaten in his last six. Multifaceted is a winner of five races from eight starts and his last three victories have each been more impressive than the other.

This could turn out to be an absolute pot-boiler which would probably be in the same mould as a Federer and Nadal final. Multifaceted, like Federer glides. He’s never in a hurry. Iron Age is a mix of Nadal and Djokovic as he powers to the front. It promises to be one hell of a match but I’m backing Multifaceted.

A first for Mysuru

The Dr. M. A. M. Ramaswamy Stayers Cup named in memory of the Baron of Indian Racing and scheduled to be run as the 7th race of the day has also attracted a field of ten. This will be the first time that the racetrack in Mysuru will witness a race run over 3000 metres. So whoever wins will be the holder of a new record and that will probably stand for the next six years.

Own Opinion won the inaugural running back in 1981. However, since then only three horses have won this gruelling test of endurance back-to-back.

Aztec did it in 1984 and 1985. Ardiles followed suit in 1987 and 1988 and then after a gap of over 25 years Astapi joined that elite club winning in 2014 and 2015. Interestingly all three horses had their names starting with the letter A.

This year Sacred Roman (Holy Roman Emperor-Clicquot) from the stable of Pesi Shroff will be going for that magical double.

He won it well in Hyderabad last year and this year Shroff has targeted him to repeat and his impressive win in the Byculla Cup over 2800 metres has definitely boosted his reputation. He will be ridden by jockey Y.S. Srinath and is sure to have a vast following. The fact that he is also the highest rated horse in the field adds to his chances.

Of course the other nine runners in the field are certainly not there to have a look at the scenery and they are definitely going to be right there when things start hotting up.

In fact four of them are by the Champion Sire Multidimensional, so on sheer weight of numbers an Usha Stud bred just might do the trick.

Of this quartet, the one that seems to appeal most to me is the Bangalore-based challenger Cosmos (Multidimensional-Hills and Stars). He’s won four of his last five starts and that last victory of his in Chennai showed that he has it in him to upset them all.

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