Horse Racing India: 1000 Guineas

Due to centuries of colonial history and legacy, modern Indian horse racing is heavily influenced by British traditions. Just like the five annual Classics in British horse racing, the highlight of the Indian racing seasons is the five Indian Classics. The 1000 Guineas is one of the most historic Classic events held in India.

Similar to the other 1000 Guineas held in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth territories like Australia, the Indian version is held over a distance of one mile, or roughly 1600m.

The venue

The Mahalaxmi Race Course in India is the home of all but one of the Five Classics, the Indian St Leger. So the Indian 1000 Guineas is also held each year in the city of Mumbai, under the control of the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC).

Traditionally, the Indian 1000 Guineas is held only in the month of December, on a Saturday.

The race is part of the Winter Season of the Mumbai Racing Calendar. It holds a special significance as the first Indian Classic of the season at Mumbai. The 1000 Guineas acts as the curtain-raiser and is quickly followed, usually the following day (a Sunday), by the 2000 Guineas.

The race is generally held towards the evening, with the start scheduled around 04:00 PMOnly fillies, who are three years old that year, can participate in the 1000 Guineas. And as per Indian racing tradition, only horses born in India can compete in all five Classics including the 1000 Guineas. All the fillies carry level weights for this event.

The History Behind Indian 1000 Guineas

The Indian 1000 Guineas holds the distinction of being the first-ever Indian Classic. While the British equivalent traces its history way back to 1814 or thereabouts, the Indian variant only took off nearly 150 years later.

Before the 1940s, there was no tradition or concept of an Indian Classic. There were prestigious races like the Calcutta Derby or the Governor General’s Cup, but nothing along the lines of the five British Classics.

All this changed in 1943 when the Royal Western Turf Club in Mumbai (then called Bombay) hosted three Indian Classics: the Indian 1000 Guineas, the Indian 2000 Guineas, and the Indian Derby.

Of the three, the Indian 1000 Guineas was hosted first: on January 1, 1943 in Mumbai. In the first -5-6 iterations of the race, it was held either in January or December. Starting with the 7th Indian 1000 Guineas in 1948, the race has been held exclusively in December.

Princess Beautiful, trained by M C Patel and ridden by jockey E Britt, was the winner of the first-ever 1000 Guineas in India. That year, the filly owned by the Maharaja of Gaekwad also went on to win all the three Classics.

In that first-ever race in 1943, the stakes were around INR 20,250. Fast forward 75 years and the stakes had risen to INR 44,46,750.

Outcome Of The 2018 Indian 1000 Guineas

The 2018 edition of the Indian 1000 Guineas was held on the December 9 with a 4:00 PM start. Sponsored by Spartan Poker, the race card had 11 fillies, but one Improvisso was withdrawn before the race.

The tote favorite before the race was Isn’t She Lovely, (Excellent Art (GB) – In the Spotlight) a chestnut filly trained by the veteran S Padmanabhan. David Allan was contracted to race her in this edition of the 1000 Guineas. She had a rating of 74 and healthy odds of 96/100.

The other top choices for this race were La Rondine (Kingda Ka (Aus) – Rahy’s Serenade (USA)) with odds of 23/4, Oomph (Midnight Interlude(USA)-Jahanara(IRE)), and Merlot (Saamidd(GB)-Tourmalet(GB)). The last two shared the same odds of 11.

Quick recap:

But the favorite from Bangalore failed to deliver on the big day, finishing behind four local fillies in fifth place. After settling into the middle of the pack at the start, Isn’t She Lovely never got into gear. Neither would she even remotely compete for the top prize at any point in the race.

In the early stages, Tic Tac Ipsy Tipsy—a bay filly sired by Western Aristocrat—held the lead with odds of 18. But in the home stretch, Arabia (Multidimensional IRE) – Adamie) powered ahead into the lead from fourth.

Jockey Leigh Roche from Ireland had smartly kept La Rondine immediately behind Arabia in fifth position in the early stages of the race. As things came closer to the business end, Roche urged La Rondine to close in on Arabia. With just 300m left, it was Arabia in front, with La Rondine closing down fast.

La Rondine prevailed finally, finishing ahead of Arabia by a good margin of two and a quarter lengths. The filly delivered trained Vishal Gaikwad his first-ever Indian Classic win with a time of 1:36:64. Oomph finished in third behind Arabia, with Eyes For You (Midnight Interlude (USA) – Johanara (IRE) bringing up the top four.

Here is how the top five looked:

Rank Horse Jockey Trainer
1 La Rondine Leigh Roche Vishal Gaikwad
2 Arabia Akshay Kumar P Shroff
3 Oomph Suraj Narredu Vishal Gaikwad
4 Eyes For You Y S Srinath Rehanullah Khan
5 Isn’t She Lovely David Allan S Padmanabhan

List of Past Indian 1000 Guineas Winners

Year  Horse  Jockey  Trainer
2018  La Rondine  Leigh Roche  Vishal Gaikwad
2017  Lady in Lace  Suraj Narredu  KSV Prasad Raju
2016  Mrs Patmore  Trevor Patel  P Shroff
2015  Myrtlewood  PS Chouhan  P Shroff
2014  Godspeed  Suraj Narredu  M Narredu
2013  Mariinsky  Trevor Patel  P Shroff

Winners (1944 – 2012): https://www.racingworldindia.com/index.php/the-indian-1000-guineas-gr1-winners-since-1944/

Indian 1000 Guineas Historical Records

S Chavan holds the record for most wins by a jockey in the Indian 1000 Guineas. He was active for two decades in the profession starting in the early 1950s. Starting with Kanya Kumari in 1952, Chavan went on to ride six different fillies to glory in the 1000 Guineas. His final win in this race came in 1972, with Goolagong.

As for most wins by a trainer, two trainers have a claim for the top spot. Uttam Singh did it six times, starting in 1968 with Venus De Milo. A decade later, he created history by winning thrice in as many years, 1978, 1979, and 1980. His horses also won at the 1000 Guineas another two times in the 1980s, in ‘82 and ‘86.

Pesi Shroff holds a unique record in the Indian 1000 Guineas. He has won multiple times as both a jockey and a trainer. In the saddle, his wins came in 1983, 1984, and 2000. After becoming a trainer, his fillies scored six wins, in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2016.