Mumbai: It is three decades since the Poonawalla Breeders’ Multi-Million, Grade 1 race has been held at the mecca of horse-racing - Mahalaxmi racecourse.
This race was a common ground for boosting breeding and racing in the country, but ended up with the concept of The Breeders’ Million Race. The Poonawallas guaranteed Rs 1 million to kickstart the race, and today it is over Rs 15 million. Most importantly, this race gives a face to the leading juvenile aspirants in the country.
There are plenty of twists and turns to this money-spinner and one great jinx -- ever since its inception in 1990, none of the winners of this race have gone on to win the Indian Derby.
The gap between both races for a particular crop is almost a year. For equines to carry form over such a long duration is difficult. Also, both races are run at contrasting distances, making it tougher for a horse to be so versatile. Besides, both races are Grade 1, and so peak readiness is a pre-requisite, which of course, is a byproduct of many factors.
However, there is one fact that gives the sponsors cause for cheer. In the last three races, the winners have not only been bred by the Poonawallas, but also owned by them. And on Sunday, it looks like history will repeat itself.
This year too, of the 11 runners, three are from the Poonawallas -- Forest Flame, Lombardy and Successor --, and the first-named stands out and can catches the judge's eye. Two, Excelerator and Super Girl are making their debut and may also spring surprises. Surprisingly in the last one decade, only one favourite has obliged, Ruffina (2017). And incidentally, in the same period, only two fillies have won. Ruffina (2017) and Mission You (2019).
With the same credentials as Ruffina, Forest Flame appears to be the best ‘kid on the block’.