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In The Spotlight connections decide to fight on

Owner-breeder insists India’s star mare deserves another chance to shine in Dubai

Image Credit: ANDREW WATKINS/Dubai Racing Club
In The Spotlight (left) jumps out of the starting gate under Ryan Moore in the Dubai Duty FreeFull Of Surprises handicap on January 17 at Meydan where she finished fourth.
Gulf News

Dubai: The connections of star Indian filly In The Spotlight are determined not to throw in the towel despite having watched their multiple Group 1 winner suffer a second successive defeat in the Dubai World Cup Carnival on Thursday night.

Zavaray Poonawalla, who bred and jointly owns the daughter of Alnasr Alwasheek with Captain Jamshed Appoo, believes that the mare, a stunning winner of six Group 1 races at different tracks in India, deserves another chance to prove herself on the international stage.

In The Spotlight finished a close fourth on her Dubai bow over 2,400m on January 17 but could only eke out a sixth place effort behind South African raider Star Empire in a crucial 2,800m contest at Meydan which has left her connections wondering what went wrong.

Poonawalla admitted to being very “perplexed” at the way she performed on her most recent start and said: “She has been worked very well and we were expecting her to run well, but she did not. We’re just perplexed as to why she ran flat two furlongs from the post after appearing to have every chance in the race.

“Obviously that performance has left us scratching our heads, but we’re also mulling over the various options that we have.

“One of them is to run her on March 2 over a shorter distance of 2,000 metres, either on the grass or perhaps even the Tapeta. She’s been working very well on the surface so we’re just wondering if that is the right way to go,” he added.

“But having said that, dropping her back in trip from 2,800 metres is not going to be very advantageous as well, so we’re in a bit of a flap.

“We’re also looking at the HH The Emir’s Trophy in Qatar, but if she’s not right nothing has any meaning. It’s no sense in making plans.”

When asked what would now convince him, and his trainer S. Padmanabhan, to give In The Spotlight yet another chance to shine outside her native India, Poonawalla said: “Like us, she is fiercely competitive. Everything seems to have gone wrong but we’re not yet ready to throw in the towel. Races always take place, we just have to wait for the right one.”

Poonawalla revealed that a final decision on In The Spotlight’s continued participation in the Dubai World Cup Carnival will be taken by Monday.

In The Spotlight is being campaigned for a berth in the $1 million Group 3 Dubai Gold Cup, sponsored by Al Tayer Motors as her principal target with the possibility of taking her to England for the summer where the mare will be conditioned by legendary British handler Sir Henry Cecil.

A well-respected owner and breeder in Indian racing for the past forty odd years Poonawalla enjoyed success at the Dubai World Cup Carnival in 2007 with dual winner and In The Spotlight’s half-brother, Mystical.