Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Change of heart

Richard's Romance in Moonlight

Prakash Gosavi

Jockey Richard Hughes has changed his mind. The ace jockey who had preferred Ocean And Beyond over Moonlight Romance in the Indian Derby only to lose to the latter, has now decided to partner the Derby winning filly in the grade 1, Indian Turf Invitation Cup on Sunday. Cooji Katrak, trainer of Moonlight Romance, confirmed the news through an SMS to this correspondent.

When contacted, Prem Tharani, part owner of both Moonlight Romance and Ocean And Beyond, also confirmed the development. "Yes, Richard will be riding the filly," he told MiD DAY, "I think Moonlight Romance stayed quite well in the Derby, and he must have taken that into account."

There was speculation in the racing world that if Richard Hughes opts for Moonlight Romance, then Ocean And Beyond, trained by SK Sunderji, will be ridden by YS Srinath. However, when MiD DAY contacted Srinath, he said it was not true. "Well, even I thought so until Monday night," he laughed aloud and said, "but I guess Richard wants Naill (McCullagh) to ride Ocean And Beyond, so it will be him, and not me."

Tharani also spoke about other riding arrangements. "McCullagh will ride Ocean And Beyond, and Sun Kingdom will be ridden by Suraj Narredu," he added. When asked who will ride their fourth runner, Sunlight, Tharani said, "She is not a confirmed starter yet, we will take a decision by Wednesday evening."

The Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) has organized a special press meet today evening on the Mahalaxmi lawns to announce the final line up for the four most important races of the coming weekend--the Invitation Cup, the Sprinters' Cup, the Stayers' Cup & the Super Mile--where the starting gate numbers will be drawn.

(c) MiD DAY

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