Champion Mares from Kunigal Stud Farm
 
   

Sabre Dance proves her worth
- Maj. Nargolkar

As the dam of the Colts' Trial Stakes, Gr.1 and Gr 2 Harvins Bangalore 2000 Guineas winner Fleeting Arrow, the Bold Russian mare Sabre Dance stands proud in the limelight.

Bred by Mr. & Mrs. L.C. Gupta at the Kunigal Stud, Sabre Dance was the first foal of her dam and from the first crop of the Persian Bold horse Bold Russian. She grew to be an attractive filly and with Dr. Vijay Mallya keen to launch Kunigal Stud's new stallion properly, he bought her with the breeder Mr. L.C. Gupta retaining a share.

She was entrusted to Darius Byramji and made a winning debut at Calcutta with C. Ruzaan aboard on 8 December 1986 to give her sire his first winner. She disappointed in her remaining three starts that term at Calcutta but twice hit the board during her summer campaign at Bangalore . She remained in Bangalore and on the opening day of the Bangalore Winter season, she came in third over 1200 m.

Taken to Calcutta , she was running on purposefully in So Amazing's The Hindu Calcutta 1000 Guineas , Gr.3 and she followed that promising effort by winning the Raja Jani Cup over 1400 m., coming with a late burst to win on the post as a favourite. With Mr. L.C. Gupta having passed away in the interim, his quarter share was now taken over by his wife, Mrs. Jaba Gupta. Eight fillies reported to the starter for the Castrol Calcutta Oaks, Gr.3 and two daughters of Razeen, Remember Star and Lunar Music, both owned by Dr. M.A.M. Ramaswamy garnered all the support the former, in fact, starting at odds on. Sabre Dance was friendless at 12 to 1 and Christopher Alford was content to wait as Mr. Deepak Khaitan's Sovereign Flower cut the wind for her bracket-mate Aladancer. When neither of the Ramaswamy fillies nor Aladancer seemed to find the required spark after rounding the final turn, Alford brought Sabre Dance into contention. She quickly collared the front-running Sovereign Flower and romped home comfortably by three and a half lengths to give the stallion Bold Russian, jockey Christopher Alford and the Best* branch of BRIAR-ROOT stirps their first Classic victory. Though she ran last in her next start in King's Academy's Queen Elizabeth II Cup, Gr.2, she finished quite close up. That was her last appearance on a race track and she ended her career with 3 wins from a dozen starts and an equal number of efforts which saw her number go up in the frame, banking Rs. 7,33,629 in stakes.

Sabre Dance's first mate Kunigal Stud was the new arrival Tejano to whom she produced the filly City Ballet who failed to place. She aborted to Serious Spender the following year; her 2001 foal by Tejano died young and she aborted again to the same stallion in 2002. Switched to Burden of Proof, she gave four consecutive foals -- minor winners in Peace Prize and Scimitar, star of the moment Fleeting Arrow and a two year-old chestnut filly. After being put to Tejano in 2006 and 2007, she went to the court of Burden of Proof this year and is reported as holding.

Sabre Dance's dam Dancing Dissident and grandam Star Appeal were both owned by Mr. L.C. Gupta though the last named started her career in the colours of Mr. S.L. Das. Incidentally, both placed third in the Calcutta Oaks with Star Appeal also finishing on the board in Calcutta 1000 Guineas , Calcutta 2000 Guineas and Calcutta Derby. Mr. L.C. Gupta was a small but prominent Calcutta owner-breeder -- a fast vanishing breed -- and several good horses carried his colours. Probably the best horse that he bred -- in partnership with Mr. A.K.S. Brar -- was that gallant grey Brave Dancer who was owned by Mr. Babi Nobis.

Dancing Dissident was by Everyday II, perhaps the best 'all-round' stallion in the annals of Indian breeding. A frontline Classic stallion -- 24 Classic winners --, a wonderful broodmare sire -- 13 Classic winners -- and a sire of successful sires like Sir Bruce, Everynsky and Every Time, to mention just three. Indian Derby winner Nijinsky , India 's first syndicated stallion, was a sire vastly superior to the opportunities he was afforded. Not only did he get Classic level fillies like Sweet Memories, Muffin and Star Appeal, his son Well Connected was a useful stallion. Two other stallions along the tail-female line of Sabre Dance deserve a comment. Prince's Choice, who stood in Pakistan , was bred on exactly the same lines as Nearctic being by Nearco out of a Hyperion mare while few people will remember that Sibola, the fourth dam of Gallant Prince was also the third dam of Nearco !

It is hard to imagine how the Twelve Pointer mare Best* was allowed to come to India for she was a winner of two races in England and a half-sister to the Dewhurst Stakes winner Hurry Off. Come she did and in the monsoon of 1934 she was saddled thrice by R. Elliot for the well known Calcutta owner Mr. N.D. Bagree. She failed to place and was acquired by Mithalak Stud Farm. Mithalak Stud Farm was obviously oblivious to her antecedents for she was twice put to non-Thoroughbred stallions while the beautifully-bred Gallant Prince -- sire of Princess Best -- was a Remount stallion in District Montgomery. Princess Best won 4 races and at stud produced a winning filly and a winning colt. That winning filly -- Princess Victory -- did not go to stud but Princess Best was in foal to the Asterus horse Coeur de Lion when the Partition took place and so the mare found herself in Pakistan . That foal was Etoile who did not race and on going to stud got two fillies by Prince's Choice -- Kitty, a winner of 7 races and Anarkali (later renamed Twinkle) who won 4 races.

While Kitty failed to make it to the ranks of broodmares, Twinkle* crossed the border to come to India where she was boarded at the Sewania Stud. It is more than probable that the Habibullahs -- who had strong ties with Pakistan and were then partners in Sewania -- had much to do with the migration of Twinkle*.

Around the same time as Twinkle*'s migration, another mare from the same family was imported by the Qutab Stud. That was Goddess of Love* who came carrying a foal by the Epsom Derby winner Nimbus. Deanery, the third dam of Goddess of Love*, was a full-sister to Dewhurst Stakes winner Hurry Off and a half-sister to Best*. More importantly, Goddess of Love* in time became the grandam of the unique Indian Derby winner Pyare Miya. Unique indeed ! The Indian Derby was the only race that Pyare Miya won in his entire career of 17 starts spread over four racing years.

The fourth dam of Deanery and Best* was the Springfield mare Briar-Root who won the One Thousand Guineas. The Briar-Root stirps of the Mabille family was quite fashionable in those days what with Hurry Off, Supertello (Ascot Gold Cup), Prunus (Deutsches Derby and a very influential sire in Germany) and a host of good winners descending in U.S.A. from her daughter Pietra; horses like Toro (American Derby), Easter Stockings (Kentucky Oaks), Brown Bud, Corn Husker, Shawi and others.

One remarkable statistic. The five mares from Etoile to Sabre Dance (counting upto her 2006 produce) have given a total of 26 foals of which only four have been colts and one of them -- Fleeting Arrow -- wins the Colts' Trial Stakes, Gr.1 !