All eyes will be on the second classic race of the season on Saturday, with the tenure of the IndianOil Barbe Cup (Group 1) at weight-for-age. Even though there are just six horses from four different yards in the starting stalls, there are some interesting subplots, none more so than the champion horse attempting to redeem himself, following events in the 5th meeting.
On that day, White River was beaten by Alyaasaat in the 150th Anniversary Cup (Group 3). The champion horse was making his return to competition and was carrying the top weight, while the latter had caught the eye on his own debut and was carrying just 52 kg. On Saturday, both will be carrying 58 kg and will be joined by Undercover Agent and Table Bay – two horses who have already made an impression earlier this season.
WHITE RIVER (Derreck David) is the defending champion of this race and it is fair to say that this win was the most impressive of the lot. He unleashed a powerful burst of acceleration in the final straight, doing just enough to pip Cool At Heart at the death.
Set off as hot favourite in his seasonal debut in the 5th meeting, he could only manage 2nd place. The silver lining is he has come out very well from that run and looks to be in better condition. At the very least, he looks primed to become the first horse to win this classic race back-to-back.
UNDERCOVER AGENT is certainly not in the race for nothing! He arrived in Mauritius with the expectations of conquering all the big races. He was runner-up in the Duchess Of York Cup (Group 2), but it can be said that he ran into misfortune on more than one occasion throughout the run. In vastly improved shape and form, he has the ability to go one better and earn Rye Joorawon his first win in this classic race.
The Gujadhur Stable took out the first classic race of 2020 with Ehsaan. They will be bidding to win their second straight classic race on Saturday and their hopes lie squarely on the shoulders of TABLE BAY (Cedric Ségeon). Winner in 2018, he was unplaced in last year’s edition. However, it must be noted that he was inconvenienced in the middle stages, and subsequently found himself in a three-wide position for the remainder of the race. He has regained his best form this season, taking out the feature race in the 3rd meeting. He remains in excellent condition and is widely expected to have a major say in this.
‘’Unfortunate’’ would be the best word to describe ALYAASAAT (Nooresh Juglall) in the Duchess Of York Cup. He caught the eye with his finish and would well have contended for the win had things not gone wrong at the start. There were certainly no problems in his last run, as he toppled White River, much to the joy of his connections.
This Gilbert Rousset-trained horse has further improved in terms of form, demonstrating this in a barrier trial. He meets White River again, this time at level weights but even so, he is capable of pulling another rabbit out of the hat.
Gilbert Rousset has also entered RULE THE NIGHT (Nishal Teeha) in this contest. After landing 3rd in the Noble Salute Cup (Group 3), he did even better in the 4th meeting, coming out on top after a spirited, if not heated tussle with Wall Tag. He now competes against numerous classy sorts, especially over the mile in which he will tackle for the very first time. However, based on what he has shown here in Mauritius, it would be a major mistake to put a line through his chances.
HARD DAY’S NIGHT (Jameer Allyhosain) is far from the form of 2017 and ’18, when he was Four-Year Old Champion, a classic winner and Champion horse. He may be in better shape following his seasonal debut, but more is needed if he is to reverse the form book.