Juliette and Kings Ransom spearhead the challenge in the Invitation Cup

In 1983, the Hyderabad Race Club ushered in a new epoch in the history of Indian racing when it brought in a corporate sponsor for the Invitation Cup.

On Sunday, the Bangalore Turf Club will become the first to bring in an international sponsor to support the country’s most prestigious race, which will be run as The Royal Arion Club Indian Turf Invitation Cup.

The Royal Arion Club will be opening up a new dimension in India, offering members an opportunity to be part of horse racing not just in India but on the world stage.

It has also brought in the World Horse Racing Team and the effervescent and elegant Francesca Cumani will put India’s most glamorous weekend on the world stage.

Thirteen runners had been declared to start, but with the withdrawal of Kancha and Imperial Power, the 11-horse field has three 4-year-old fillies and five 4-year-old colts representing the challenge from the crop of classic vintage.

When the Invitation Cup was last run here in 2017, a filly named Temerity not only set the track record that still stands, but also set in motion the incredible sequence of the ‘fairer sex’ winning the next five editions.

The trend looks like to continue as the fillies and the mare seem to hold all the aces.

The bid for getting to that magical mark of seven will be spearheaded by the defending champion Juliette.

The seven-year-old mare will not find the going easy, with a determined challenge being thrown by the three four-year-old fillies — the Indian Derby winner Mirra, the runner-up Kings Ransom, and Bangalore Derby champion La Reina.

Record beckons

It promises to be a hectic race and we might just see another record being set if the mare and three fillies take the first four places. As I’ve always been a bit of a romantic, it’s Juliette for me with Kings Ransom leading the rest.

Ahead Of My Time for Super Mile

The Major P.K. Mehra Super Mile, with nine top-class horses in the fray, will probably see the three four-year-old colts — Ahead Of My Time, Ravishing Form and Once You Go Black — vie for supremacy.

Ahead Of My Time, the Indian 2000 Guineas winner, is the one to beat.

He went down narrowly in his last start to Northern Lights, but on that occasion, he was conceding weight. This time they meet with the terms in his favour and that should see him turn the tables on his vanquisher.

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