The Royal Calcutta Turf Club (RCTC) hosting the 62nd running of the Indian Turf Invitation Cup could not have come at better time. It has given the club the ideal opportunity to showcase the remarkable progress and turnaround that it has made in the quest to take racing back to it’s competitive best in Kolkata.

Dispelling all doubts that had arisen six to seven months ago, the Board of Stewards, working in conjunction with a dedicated team of officials, has put together a weekend that has raised the bar and made it one of the memorable ones ever. This is RCTC at it’s very best.

The HPSL Indian Turf Invitation Cup has four 4-year-old colts, one 4-year-old filly and just two horses representing the older generation of which one is 5-year-old and the other is named Juliette.

Record beckons

Running in her fifth Invitation Cup, eight-year-old Juliette is looking at rewriting the record books by bidding for a hat-trick in the marquee event. Racing is indeed the winner as one has had the opportunity to watch one of the greatest horses still competing instead of being retired to stud.

Juliette will take on five horses who are half her age when she lines up to face the starter on Sunday. They’re not there to have a look at the picturesque Kolkata racecourse and will fancy their chances.

Will age prevail, or will young guns like Synthesis and Jamari be the villains of the piece and deprive Juliette of what will probably be her final moment in the sun? One will have to wait until a little after 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoon to find out.

But before making up your mind on whether to go with age or youth, here’s an intriguing little snippet of information. In Kolkata, when there are two greys in a race, one of them wins. There are two greys today and one of them happens to be named Juliette!

WHAT THE PROFESSIONALS SAY:

SUPER MILE

Suraj Narredu: After his hat-trick of wins in Kolkata, we felt that the mile would suit A Star is Born better than a mile and a half. He’s never been better and we have home advantage.

Rajesh Narredu: A Star is Born has bee in great heart ever since he has come to Kolkata. We decided to bring him here during the Monsoon season knowing that the RCTC would be hosting the Invitation weekend. He has thrived and is at his best. The manner in which he won the Calcutta Gold Cup over a mile is what prompted us to keep him at this distance.

Prasanna Kumar: Evaldo may not have run since the 28th of September, but he’s in the same form as he was then when he beat A Star Is Born by 3 lengths in Mysuru. Don’t write him off.

M.K. Jadhav: Mojito, one of the most consistent horses that I have ever trained, has a touch of class. The blinkers he sported for the first time in his last start have helped him considerably and he won that really well. Mojito comes in with an outstanding chance.

Patrick Quinn:Destroyer is a top-class miler and we have the home advantage. Though he is taking on the best there is today, I’m sure he will run one hell of a race.

Prasanna Kumar:Knotty Charmer has never been out of the first three and the mile is his best trip. Older horses like A Star Is Born, Mojito, and Evaldo have a lot of class and we are meeting them for the first time, but Knotty Charmer is definitely there.

INVITATION CUP

Karthik Ganapathy:Juliette has done everything asked of her. She is as well as she can be and within herself. I don’t think the short straight in Kolkata will pose too much of a problem as she is a mare with a great heart who always gives off her best.

Satish Narredu:Champions Way, who won the Golconda Derby in style, gets the trip and will run a great race.

Yash Narredu:Champions Way will run a big race.

Rajesh Narredu:Synthesis ran a great race in the Indian Derby, bouncing back after a poor run in the Ruia, where he probably picked up a stone and came back sore. That was a bit of a setback, but he came out of it nicely. He will spearhead the challenge of the 4-year-olds.

Suraj Narredu: Synthesis is my pick out of the Narredu-trained trio. He ran a great race in the Indian Derby and I’m sure will do well here also.

Sathish Narredu:Touch of Grey is as genuine as they come. Won eight races and twice second from 11 starts. Winner of the Mysore Derby and the South India Derby. Don’t underestimate him.

Pesi Shroff:Jamari is a filly with huge talent and has had a really tough campaign. Though taking on the wonder mare Juliette and renewing her battle with Synthesis, she will be right there when the race comes to a boil.



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