The Indian Derby: A Look at the contenders

All roads will lead to Mahalaxmi this coming Sunday for the Mcdowell Indian Derby. This year’s race will feature a keen contest among two main protagonists, the mercurial Murioi and the steady Jeremiah, both runners come into the race off strong campaigns this winter. While these two will be the main contenders, in the post Rashid Byramji era often times the Indian Derby will throw up a massive upset such as Noble Eagle or the defeats of runners considered past the post such as Mystical, Southern Empire and Set Alight. Lets review the prospects and pedigrees of the 15 expected runners in this year’s contest.

MURIOI (Dubawi-Zacheta’s Girl by Fantastic Light) Owned by Dr MAM Ramaswamy, trained by S Ganapathy. Murioi will be the likely favourite for this year’s Derby. He made his debut with blinkers on at Bangalore, he ran a very forward race, knuckling under in the closing stages to run second that day behind the highly touted Perfect Soul, it was apparent that this was a good horse in the making. His sire Dubawi is possibly the best non Northern Dancer Male line descendant standing in Europe today. Murioi has a high cruising speed and quickens on demand on his day. In his second start in a terms event he caused a riot at Bangalore Turf Club; he swept past the leaders in the straight but in the process he hung sharply looking for the rails and slaughtered pretty much the entire field in the process, he was disqualified for his transgressions and that led to mob violence with plastic tables and chairs flung into the paddock, the rest of that day’s races were called off. For reasons best known to the connections they decided to run him back in a terms race a week later where he ran a flat fourth. The next port of call was the richly endowed Poonawalla BREEDERS Million at Bombay a race conceived many years ago where, breeders enter their yearlings and as such the purse balloons up to a massive figure since entries close so early. Murioi finally broke his duck and won by a neck from Starry Eyes but once again showed a wayward trait when he ducked sharply towards the rails but this time around the objection against him was overuled. Put away for India’s only national season, the Bangalore Summer, Murioi went into the summer as India’s champion juvenile. He reappeared giving weight all around in the lead up million (a devalued term in my opinion in Indian racing today) his rider B Sreekanth sat comfortably at the back and with a furlong to go he pulled him wide and pressed the button, Murioi zipped past his opponents as if they were standing and won under wraps that day despite giving away weight. One would have thought that the approaching Group 1s the Colts’ Championship and the Derby were at his mercy but then again the racing gods will remind you time and again that there is a reason why the sport is called “RACING.” Alaindair hit the front out of the gates and when Sreekanth pulled Murioi wide there was none of that spark when he asked him to go, Murioi ran unplaced as Alaindair retired home a very impressive winner. He threw in an absolute clunker in the Bangalore Derby as Sandesh went to the front on Alaindair and held off a gritty Turf Striker in the closing stages to usurp Murioi’s crown as the best 3 year old in the land. Murioi was wisely put away for the winter, so what happened? One thing that was different this Bangalore Summer season was the rain and boy did it pour for the duration of the entire season every day, yours truly was there for a majority of the season and it was as if the gods decided that monsoon would never end. Apart from all of this was the fact that Murioi has a mind of his own and this possibly played a huge part. Thats where the unsung hero in Murioi’s story comes into the picture, Franco Da Silva the Brazilian jockey brought to India by Marty Mahindra. Trainer S Ganapathy drafted in Franco to start sitting on Murioi in the mornings and what a job Franco has done. The immature kid Murioi started behaving like a grown man who had come of age. We first saw him appear in a mock race at Bangalore sans blinkers, where he came clear of a decent set by 15 Lengths under wraps. With a better behaved horse Ganapathy headed to Bombay ready with his colt to take back his crown. He had his Guineas lead up in yet another nameless million (a term thats lost its relevance in Indian racing), here he beat Pune Derby runner up Circle Of Life by a length and three quarters giving her 6 Kg. Circle Of Life was a little bit unlucky that day in that she met with interference but Murioi’s superiority over the Pesi Shroff trained filly was very clear. This set Murioi up for a grudge match with his Bangalore Summer nemesis Alaindair in the Indian 2000 Guineas. Alaindair sat handy behind the pacemaker and did hit the front but once Murioi was asked for his effort he put the race to bed within a couple of strides and won under wraps by a facile three and a half lengths, Alaindair was a brave runner up and 1000 Guineas winner Mariinsky was a well beaten third. The mile and a quarter RR Ruia Cup a traditional lead up to the Derby a bit like England’s Dante Stakes was Murio’s next start and only two opposed him (one was his stablemate Mars) in what was supposed to be nothing but a racetrack workout and it was just that as Murioi took up the running and cruised home without really being asked by eight and a half lengths, he ran within half a second of Set Alight’s track record for the mile and a quarter trip. So a smashing winter campaign so far sends Murioi into the Derby as a very likely favourite but will he stay the mile and a half trip?

I opine that he should have no problem whatsoever in getting the trip. His sire Dubawi has been infusing class into his get and he is proving to be a very versatile sire with his progeny excelling over a myriad of trips, Dubawi is a son of the superstar Dubai Millennium who never quite saw out a mile and a half but was one of the best the world has ever seen over a mile and a quarter over which he dominated when he raced. Dubawi himself was a cracking miler but has plenty of stamina influences in his pedigree, starting with his broodmare sire Deploy a son of 1978 Derby winner Shirley Heights and 1997 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year Slightly Dangerous; dam of Epsom Derby winner Commander in Chief, crack miler Warning, Derby runner up and Chile’s leading sire Dushyantor, the aforementioned Deploy and Group 1 winner and Irish Oaks runner up Yashmak. Further up one finds strong stamina influences, Dancing Brave and High Line in Dubawi’s pedigree. On his dam’s side Murioi has plenty of stamina influences too starting with his broodmare sire; Fantastic Light a son of the Blushing Groom horse Rahy out of a mare by English Triple Crown winner Nijinsky II. Fantastic Light won the Breeders Cup Turf in a course record time of 2:24 and change for the mile and a half among other top races at this trip. The next broodmare sire Polish Precedent though a top level miler himself has been a decent influence for stamina, further up one finds Darshaan, the son of Shirley Heights has been a good source of modern stamina. His dam Zacheta’s Girl was an € 18,000 bargain at Goffs considering she was in foal to Dubawi, her dam Zacheta is a half sister to Marienbard who won Europe’s biggest mile and a half race the Prix de l’arc de Triomphe as well as a couple of mile and a half Group 1s in Germany. Murioi’s dam line is decent enough and this handsome colt has no doubt added to it with his performances. Now the one thing with this horse that has cost him in the past has been his temperament he appears to be the type who could just boil over on any given day, one hopes to see him behave like a gentleman and give his true running on Derby day. The latest news is that Irish jockey Chris Hayes who had a great season in Ireland in 2013 with 2 Group 1 winners is coming to ride him.

JEREMIAH (Jeremy-Acciacatura by Stravinsky) When Jeremiah made his debut in Mumbai over 6 Furlongs with I Pasha astride, nobody would have thought that this grey colt would be one of this year’s Indian Derby favourites. He ran a nice enough race without being banged about too much making up decent ground in the straight to end a pretty distant fourth behind Silver Streak. He was stepped up to 9 Furlongs for his next start he went off as the 90 paise favourite, he ran a cracking race and was distinctly unlucky to lose that day to Mars (coincidentally Murioi’s workmate), he ran very green and got stuck in traffic at the back, once he got clear he ran on purposefully to get within a length and a half of the winner. It appears that he had some breathing issues and he was operated for the same, the procedure seems to have worked as Jeremiah has gone unbeaten since. His Monsoon campaign started with a very easy victory over 9 Furlongs in a maidens event at Pune, after this Jeremiah went a very good mock race which was good enough for him to be targeted at the Deccan Derby at Malakpet. His owner Harish Mehta sold shares in his star colt to Jayadev Modi and the relatively new entrant to the sport, stock market guru Rakesh Jhunjhunwala. His performance at Hyderabad was stellar as Jeremiah was a handy winner over Bangalore Derby third place finisher, Charlatan who since then has gone on to win the Calcutta 2000 Guineas. A quick turnaround for Jeremiah took him to Pune for the Derby where he was a very easy Five and a Half length winner over the smart filly Circle Of Life. A hard Monsoon campaign and with his long term target being the Indian Derby probably caused his trainer Pesi Shroff to chalk out a relatively easier campaign for the grey colt in the winter. He appeared at Mahalaxmi for two mile and a quarter races in class one, he beat stablemate Master Shifu while receiving 6 Kg, though not visually very impressive nor by form, subsequent events made this a good race as Master Shifu came back to win the AC Ardeshir Trophy Gr.3 in his next start. Next time out he got stuck at the back with a furlong to go but once he got clear he closed impressively to give a Kg and a length odd beating to last year’s Pune Derby winner Commander who franked the form by winning next time out as well.

Will Jeremiah stay the mile and a half Derby trip? On a basic look at his pedigree one couldn’t answer in the affirmative, with confidence. The way he races though is like a nice staying type of horse, he is very relaxed and he switches off well in a race which is just how one would want it to be. Temperamentally he is the antithesis of his main rival Murioi and this will stand him in good stead with all the hullaballoo on Derby day. His sire Jeremy is a son of Coolmore stalwart, Danehill Dancer, Jeremy who stood at the Irish National stud could at best be described as a high class miler. Trained by Sir Michael Stoute he won the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot when racing for Betty Moran’s Brushwood Stables as Three year old. Remaining in training as a Four Year old he won the Betfred Mile Gr.2 and was nosed out by Ramonti on a return to Royal Ascot in the Queen Anne Stakes over a mile. Retired to Irish National Stud he hasn’t quite lived up to expectations at stud, his progeny it appears are more suited to longer trips and now he is making his presence felt as a good National Hunt stallion and has since been shifted to Garryrichard Stud. He himself descends from The Queen’s Blue Hen mare Highclere who has also given us stalwarts such as Deep Impact, Nashwan, Unfuwain and Nayef among many others this could be from where his stamina genes are coming through. Jeremiah’s dam Acciacatura was a Listed placed winner over shorter trips as a Two year old, she went on to run a creditable 6th in the Moyglare Stud Stakes Gr. 1 beaten Three and a Half lengths by Necklace. She is a half sister to a decent American horse called Kid Grindstone, a Group 3 winner. Her grandam was the great American racemare Princess Rooney, who won the inaugural Breeders Cup Distaff in 1984. A winner of 17 races and an Eclipse Award winner as leading older mare in 1984 one would have to say that Princess Rooney was a highly disappointing broodmare. Jeremiah’s broodmare sire Stravinsky was a crack Group one winning sprinter by Nureyev, Stravinsky has had his moments as a stallion but hasn’t been the most consistent of sires. Stravinsky though, has been a very good broodmare sire, young Coolmore stallion and Group one winner Rip Van Winkle being the standout product. Jeremiah has a very calm demeanour about himself and runs like a horse that will get the trip, though close up in his pedigree one finds likely sprinting influences, further back in his sire and dam’s pedigrees there appears to be plenty of stamina which the grey Shroff trainee has inherited. Pesi Shroff’s stable jockey S Zervan his regular pilot will be on board the main local hope in the Derby. The last got abroads to win the Indian Derby Velvet Rope (by Turtle Island) and Jacqueline (by King Charlemagne) are both by dud stallions as is this son of Jeremy.

AGOSTINI (Burden Of Proof-Glorious Beauty by Razeen), A final entrant and dominant winner of the Bangalore Derby Agostini will be the mount of Barbadian Loius Beuzelin in the Derby. Trained by Jaggy Dhariwal this handsome Burden Of Proof colt has made giant strides this winter after dropping his rider in the Golconda 2000 Guineas. Agostini took three starts to break his maiden, after a third on debut over 6 furlongs he ran a creditable second behind Czar Of Romance over a sprint. Next time out he was put over seven furlongs to notch up an easy 4 length win. He ended his winter campaign with a 6th place finish in the 7 furlong million at the end of the Bangalore Winter season. In the summer he went straight into the Colts’ Championship to run a very creditable fifth. He ran the Bangalore Derby next where he ran a forward race to finish sixth. He reappeared in the winter to win his lead up race under 61.5 Kg over a mile and headed to Malakpet for the Golconda 2000 Guineas. In the Guineas he clipped heels and dropped his rider. Luckily he escaped more or less unhurt and made his reappearance in the mile and a quarter Chief Ministers Trophy to defeat the previous year’s Indian Derby runner up Wind Stream by a length albeit in receipt of 8 Kg. He ran out a very emphatic winner of the Bangalore Derby last Sunday under a superb tactical ride by Louis Beuzelin, his jockey felt that he had more in hand and his connections chose to supplement him into the Indian Derby by paying a fee of 9 Lakhs. His experienced trainer has trained two Indian Derby winners in his accomplished career and has come back strong this year after overcoming some serious health issues during the Bangalore Summer season. This strapping colt is very unlike the progeny of his sire Burden Of Proof, a look at his 500 Kg plus frame gives the impression that he has taken many good points from his sire and his broodmare sire, the late Razeen. Burden Of Proof has had yet another solid year as a sire with Indian 1000 Guineas winner Mariinsky becoming his second winner of that Indian Classic. The dam line of Agostini is an old Usha Stud family responsible for standouts like Kir Royale, Archimedes, The smart stayer Capture The Moment and more recently the Invitation Cup winner Autonomy whose dam is a half sister to Agostini’s dam. He deserves to take his place in this field and provided he takes the travel well he should be right there. Do keep in mind that last year’s victor Super Storm came into the Indian Derby after a runner up finish in Bangalore.

ISN’T SHE SPECIAL (Ace-Rain Splasher by Placerville) Isn’t She Special sprung a minor surprise when she bagged the Indian Oaks a couple of weeks back. This filly is well held on all known form and her Oaks win is truly testament to the talent of her trainer S “Paddy” Padmanabhan. He trained her to win the Mysore 1000 Guineas earlier in the year on bottomless ground and a well executed strategy between Paddy and jockey David Allan saw her out fox Circle Of Life and Richard Hughes in a thrilling Indian Oaks. Everything aside, the Indian Oaks was the first time the Ace Filly was traversing the mile and a half trip. Now the problem in Bangalore is that the handicapper who frames the prospectus has decided that racing is only about getting 8 runners per race and as a result he cards no staying races for horses based there. As such one doesn’t really know for sure what horses are about until they run a mile and a half classic, for all we know, Isn’t She Special might be a good miler but a very good staying filly over a mile and a half. Will she stay? Most definitely as Richard Hughes found out when he let her get too far ahead of his mount, Circle Of Life in the Indian Oaks. She is superbly bred on the dam’s side being yet another Poonawalla classic winner descending from Schiaparelli. Her dam Rain Splasher, won the Golconda Oaks for the same owner trainer combination of team In The Spotlight; Captain Jamshed Appoo and Padmanabhan a few years back. For her sporting owner her Oaks win was a big boost as the affable “Jammy” had not been keeping the best of health. Her grandam Rasant threw Thunder Blitz, a Group 3 winner who finished a very creditable Fourth in the Kentucky Derby behind Monarchos and ahead of Champion Point Given. Her sire Ace has been a huge disappointment though he does get the rare good horse and often gets useful handicappers. Coincidentally both of Ace’s classic winners, the other being Equine Lover are trained by Paddy. Its dangerous to write off a Paddy trained horse though she has been squarely beaten by Jeremiah in the Deccan Derby and has a bit to find on form if one were to take a line through Circle of Life who ran behind Murioi after receiving 6 Kg from the Ganapathy trainee.

ALAINDAIR (Multidimensional-God’s Grace by Razeen) This son of Multidimensional ended the summer season as the best 3 year old in India, by virtue of his Bangalore Summer Derby victory. His career started on a very odd note, not the sort that would have given us any sort of idea as regards his future classic performances. Ridden by unheralded jockey I Shaikh this Altamash Ahmed trainee looked as if he was out for an airing. He got slammed down from double digit odds that day to go off as favourite, the old saying goes, man proposes and god disposes, Alaindair dwelt at the starting gates and ended up last. Next time out he was professional as he came off a fairly impressive winner. He wrapped up his winter campaign by running third in a million over 7 furlongs in the Bombay heat of end April. He was sent to Bangalore for a summer campaign he went a bit unnoticed when impressive in a mock race and ran the Colts’ Championship as a relative outsider as Murioi was all the rage in the betting. He went start to finish and coming into the straight he was well clear of the rest who were under the pump and making no impression. Alaindair retired a facile Five and a half length winner as Murioi just never fired. He went into the Derby as one of the leading contenders, his jockey A Sandesh for the second year in succession took the summer plum by the scruff of the neck as he repeated the pillar to post tactics that he had on Borsalino the previous year. Alaindair was clear into the final furlong and nothing was making an impression, in the closing stages it appeared that his early exertions took their toll as Turf Striker found a second wind to get within half a length of Alaindair but the post came to Alaindair’s rescue and he took the summer plum. While he was stopping, there was no doubt in the fact that Alaindair was the best horse in the race and a very deserving winner. After this he was put away with a winter campaign in mind. He won his lead up for the 2000 Guineas easily enough in the highest class in 1:23 and change and was well fancied in the first leg of the triple crown. He ran a very forward race as he cut pace with Silver Streak and when Murioi came alongside, Alaindair had no answer and the latter went past with ease to win very easily. It appeared that Sandesh’s tactics on Alaindair were overly agressive, Since then Alaindair has appeared on the main track as he thrashed a stablemate in a mile and a quarter mock race. He will be up against it somewhat as he is a free running type but then again he leads the rubber match against the likely favourite Murioi by two to one. A son of Multidimensional and God’s Grace another example of Multidimensional crossing well with Razeen who is the sire of God’s Grace. Alaindair is by some way the best horse this family has produced. Alaindair’s Fourth dam Miss Goolagong was imported to India way back in the Seventies. Srinath replaces A Sandesh in the saddle. His young trainer Altamash Ahmed has had a very good year as have his enthusiastic owners Nevill “The Devil” Devlaliwala, Gaurav Sethi and the mistress of Usha Stud Ameeta Mehra.

CIRCLE OF LIFE (Singspiel-Dubai Spirit by Mt Livermore) This daughter of Singspiel has earned the monicker of being the eternal bridesmaid with runner up efforts in the Pune Derby, Indian 1000 Guineas and the Indian Oaks. It would be prudent to note that this was the only filly to place in any of the 3 Year old Derbies; Bangalore Summer, Deccan, Calcutta Monsoon, Mysore or Pune. Her runner up effort behind Jeremiah at Pune was the best performance by a filly of this age group against colts. Her big moment was supposed to be the Indian Oaks but a judgment error by her pilot English champion jockey Richard Hughes and inversely a great tactical ride by David Allan on Isn’t She Special cost her dear. This filly too has had the same wind operation that Jeremiah had. She belongs to a family that has done very well in India and was responsible for last year’s 2000 Guineas winner Machiavellianism. Her sire Singspiel has been a very good sire of Stayers in England and the son of In The Wings has numerous top level horses to his credit. Though her female side of the family screams miler her sire has given her plenty of classy stamina and she will stay the trip as she did in the Oaks.

SOUTHERN EMPEROR (Placerville-Mystic Dancer by Alnasr Alwasheek). This awesomely bred son of a full sister to Mystical will be the Dr Ramaswamy camp’s second arrow in their quiver. When the Monsoon season ended this horse looked to be the natural contender for the Indian Derby on the back of his Mysore Derby romp. This gelding went through the Bangalore Winter and Summer as a maiden, since once again my favourite conditions book writer the Bangalore Handicapper feels that maiden youngsters shouldn’t run beyond 7 furlongs one would expect a proper stayer like Southern Emperor to be compromised (interesting to point out that Jeremiah got two shots at 9 Furlong maiden races). He ran decently in good company without breaking his duck, finally getting to run over a mile in the Mysore Million, he threw something of a surprise when getting up close home to win. He followed it up with a victory in the Mysore 2000 Guineas and then a dominating win in the Mysore Derby. After a good Monsoon campaign he first appeared in the Bangalore 2000 Guineas as a well backed favourite but was thrashed by Summer Derby runner up Turf Striker. He then went to Malakpet as an odds on favourite in the Golconda Derby, here his jockey B Sreekanth got stuck behind a couple of slow horses who were falling back along the rails and as a result he got shuffled back and had to swing wide into the straight and he was unable to get up despite quickening from the rear to miss by a mere length and a half.

Yet another rep of the fine Schiaparelli branch of the Barley Corn family at Poonawalla Stud, a family responsible for Divine Light, Mystical, Smart Chieftain, Southern Empire, Isn’t She Special, Classical Act and a host of other top horses over the years. His sire Placerville will go down in the Annals of Indian breeding as one of our greatest ever stallions, a horse that got them with early on speed who would then kick on and get even better as the longer races started. This animal though isn’t the greatest looker as he usually carries a poor coat and not necessarily the best condition wise either, but he has an engine and after all it isn’t a beauty contest its a race.

ACE BUCEPHALUS (Rebuttal-Shantay by Libor) A son of Rebuttal who sired last year’s winner Super Storm, Ace Bucephalus comes into the Derby without a run since finishing a well beaten Fifth in the Mysore Derby. He appears to have gone a very good Mock Race finishing half a length behind Toroloco. Recently he shifted from his Mysore based trainer Bipin Salvi to Irfan Ghatala. He has crossed swords with the best of them over the winter, summer and monsoon seasons always being there or thereabouts at the business end without winning, a third place in the Colts and a Fourth place effort in the Bangalore Derby were good efforts.His owner, mining baron Anil Lad will hope that he can make it a memorable maiden attempt in the Derby for him. A rank bad ride by Martin Dwyer cost Irfan last year as his Wind Stream came an unlucky second behind Super Storm last year.

ARCHIE (Muhtathir-Elouana by Kalanisi). This son of top French stallion Muhtathir comes from a solid staying line of HH The Aga Khan. He is a winner of his last start over a mile and a quarter and has 3 wins from 7 starts. He appears to have a lot to find on form against the main protagonists. He is one of Four Pesi Shroff trained starters in the Derby. On pedigree he’ll stay alright but on all known form he mayn’t be good enough here.

FALCON (Razeen-Tarnished Lady by Lord Avie). This Razeen Gelding has 3 wins from 10 starts and was a faraway fourth place finish in the 2000 Guineas. A dual Group winner of the Mile Colts’ million last winter at Bombay and a win in the SA Poonawalla Million in Pune, he has a lot to find on his recent form to figure over here finishing a well beaten sixth last time out in handicap company. His stakes winning dam was second behind Jilbab in the Coaching Club American Oaks at Belmont Park for leading trainer Todd Pletcher.

WENTWORTH (Multidimensional-Star Supremacy by Razeen) This son of first season sire phenom Multidimensional took a few starts to break his maiden which he finally did as late as November at Bombay. What has earned him a berth in the Derby is his last victory over the Derby Mile and a Half in a smart 2:31 and change in a 60-86 set. Though he will have to take on the big guns of his generation here watch for this improving type to run a good race in the Derby considering he will be one of those that has run over the Derby distance. Owned by third generation horse owner Dilip Thomas who has been in the news lately due to the exploits of Bangalore Oaks winner Winged Foot, defending Sprinters Cup champ Nefyn and Super Mile contender Ridgeway, this colt is trained by veteran Bezan Chenoy who knows what it takes to win the big one. This is yet another nice type produced on the Multidimensional- Razeen mare cross, his grandam Gourgandine has done very well in India and this horse has shown already that he will see out the trip with no problem at all. Now he has to step up to the plate against the big boys, its one thing to beat Antonius Maximus and another thing to run the Indian Derby.

AMAZING GRACE (Hurricane Run- Efrinha by Woodman) This daughter of erstwhile Coolmore stallion Hurricane Run who has been relocated to Germany, made a belated debut when she won a mile and a quarter race fluently. She stepped up steeply in class when she ran 7th in the Oaks albeit only about 6 lengths behind the winner. She was kicked on her hock when the fillies were pulled out and restalled for the Oaks. She goes into the race more on hope than on form and she has to learn fast, she seems the sort who still isn’t a finished product and will improve over the course of the year. She has ability and will stay but this looks a tough ask for her.

HIGHRAZ (Razeen-Altitude by Steinbeck) A maiden winner over a mile on debut at Bombay last winter, this filly hasn’t won since. She had a poor Bangalore Summer, connections look like they’re taking a chance on her fair Oaks run where she was 6th, some 6 lengths from the winner. On all known form she is well held by most of the field here.

KEUKENHOF (Multidimensional-Secret Garden by Razeen) Keukenhof is a filly with lots of ability but on all known form a bit below the very best, she has always run well in good company with third place finishes behind Isn’t She Special in the Indian Oaks and Mysore 1000 Guineas her best efforts. She broke her maiden in Bangalore during the summer season and has been campaigned quite creatively by her connections. Her owner is the current chairman of RWITC Vivek Jain along with his family and Atul Amersey who owns shares in three separate runners in this race. Her Oaks run was very good and she deserves to take a chance in the Derby on the basis of that. Her grandam the Habitat mare, Hablitzia has done very well in India producing the Calcutta Triple Crown winner King’s Academy, Golconda Derby winner Star Hopeful and the useful Amber Regent who won the Bangalore Winter Derby. Keukenhof’s Oaks run showed us that she stays well whether she is good enough is the big question.

STARRY EYES (Multidimensional-Pricewise by Razeen) How much difference a year makes, Starry Eyes was widely considered the best Filly in the country and rightly so after some great performances in the winter season including an unlucky runner up effort in the PBM and culminating in a dominant score in the mile fillies million in March. After a miserable Bangalore Summer season where she ran off board in both the Fillies’ Championship and Derby. She was rested through the monsoon with an eye on the winter classics and reappeared in a three runner Maharaja Of Morvi Trophy which she won very easily but in a very slow timing. She was a well beaten third behind Mariinsky in the 1000 Guineas and was Fifth in the Oaks. On all known form she has quite a bit to find to win this. Owned by Pharma baron Dr YK Hamied and Atul Amersey she hopes to turn back the clock to last winter if she does so she could surprise everybody.


7 thoughts on “The Indian Derby: A Look at the contenders

  1. Hats off to you,Tegbir!

    One of the best reviews ever read by me.A very precise and analytical study of the runners.Hope to read more such reviews.
    Keep ’em coming.


  2. I discovered your blog only today and have been reading your posts all day. Your insights are a real pleasure. As a journalist and lover of horse racing, I’ve always despaired at the lack of perceptive writing on the subject — while there is an abundance of tripe by crappy tipsters. Your blog, therefore, is refreshing. Apart from all the improvements you’ve suggested in your posts — culling of crappy mares, scrapping of races bracketed for aged and unsound horses, etc — we also need racing and breeding professionals who can articulate the interests of the industry. Your blog is going straight up into my favourites list!

  3. Hi ive been looking at some of the right ups on the 2005 derby winner , Southern Regent and enjoyed all the item’s ive read would like to find out more if possible , because I am the owner now of this horse and ive had him for 3 year’s now. I can’t seen to find out or watch any videos of him racing in the uk. He has a nice relaxed life now and only hacks out with my other xracer. Kind regards Wendy Hackett.

    • Check out and, I’m pretty sure you’ll find some videos atleast. Also putting up a post on indiarace horse talk would be a great idea, since a large number of people use the forum. He was bred at Usha Stud Farm so check out their website and send them a message too. I doubt you know this but your horse is the only Indian bred to ever win a race in Europe. Cheers!

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