The races were preceded by lunch at the historic race course that was built in 1883 to resemble Caulfield Racecourse in Melbourne. With many of the 600 expected delegates already having arrived into Mumbai, the main lawn looked as much as a setting for a bollywood wedding as it did for a day of sport under glorious sunshine.
The feature race of the day was the grade one, ‘Villoo Poonawalla Indian Oaks’ over 2400 metres. The favourite Myrtlewood was switched off at the back of the pack for most of the way but was absolutely electric when she quickened, sweeping past her hapless rivals as if they were standing still. The presentation party included Dr. Cyrus Poonawalla, the sponsor of the race and Chairman of the ARC Organising Committee as well as Princess Zahra Aga Khan who will also grace the opening ceremony on Monday the 25th.
Earlier in the day, Quasar, unarguably India’s best race horse, increased his winning streak with a gritty performance in the ‘Breeders of India Championship Stakes’ over 2000 metres. Battling hard against an opponent that was carrying ten kilos less, he kept finding just a bit more as the winning post approached.
The penultimate race was the ‘Asian Racing Federation Trophy’ for three year olds and which carried a purse of approximately US$ 150,000. Indian champion trainer, Pesi Shroff had won the Oaks and the next race and looked set to for a hat trick of victories when his charge Accolade hit the front with two furlongs to run. In a race that boasted the best three year olds in India, it was, however the filly Devoted Eyes who ran him down inside the last 100 metres, reversing form with him from a month ago when they both clashed on debut. The presentation was graced by the Chairman of the Asian Racing Federation, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, who was recognised by the organising committee for his contributions over the year as well as the Secretary General, Andrew Harding on a day that could not have launched the Asian Racing Conference in a better manner.