Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My take on the Poonawalla Mysore Derby objection

This is an imaginary exercise with real opinion.

I just watched the Mysore Derby video repeatedly to respond to Dude's post in the comments section of the previous article on this blog. Dude, a regular reader of this blog, has requested me to give my opinion about the Mysore Derby objection. Here I record my observations:

If I were the stipendiary steward, I would have framed the following questions to aid my decision:

Q1: Were the two horses involved in objection at any stage during the straight, abreast? [This, I think, is always the MOST IMPORTANT question in any objection]

Q2: Were the winner (Fleet Indian) and his rider (Srinath) in any way responsible for Messalina's drift in the straight?

Q3: How close was Messalina from Fleet Indian when she broke her stride?

Q4: a) Can the winner's rider be held guilty of deliberate, dangerous or intimidatory tactics? b) And if yes, was the break in Messalina's stride a result of such tactics?

Q5: Before changing the course and angling inside, did the runner up (Messalina) at any time give the impression that she was gaining ground "rapidly" on the winner? [The word "rapidly" is used because she had only final 100 meters in which to do this.]

Q6: How much difference did the break in stride and change of lane make to Messalina's performance in terms of Lengths?

My answers to these questions would have been:

A1. NO.

A2. NO.
Messalina herself was drifting in the straight, and until she got close to the hind quarters of Fleet Indian, the winner had NOTHING to do with her drift. I mean she was not "forced" to go wider either by the winner's drift or his rider's actions.

A3. 1 length.
Messalina was close to the hind quarters of the winner at that point, which, incidentally, was the closest she could go to the winner during the entire straight.

A4. a) NO. b) NO.
The recoil that caused her to break her stride momentarily was more her (and her rider's) instinctive reaction to Srinath's straight-armed, long-arched whipping gesture at that point, and in no way can it be construed as part of intimidating tactics by the winner's rider. My judgement is it was just a frantic, desperate measure by Srinath to keep the horse going with the same momentum, and I think Srinath did a far better job (than Wayne Smith) to control his horse under the circumstances.

A5: NO.
The runner up never gave the impression that she was rapidly gaining ground on the winner. In fact, I feel she got closer to the winner ONLY when the winner had his own problems with the drift and had some "jerky" and slower strides for about 4 seconds while traveling for approximately 60 meters (170-110 meters from the winning post). [This observation is based on the output of the special software that I use to chart the races].

A6: My estimate is it made, at best, a difference of about one length to Messalina's final performance.
In other words, my opinion is that had circumstances not been what they were and both Fleet Indian and Messalina had continued the way they raced until the time this incident happened, the verdict could have been VERY CLOSE, and as they say, it could have been anybody's race! This opinion is based on the observation that Messalina, at the time of the break in her stride, was about a length behind the winner, and her eventual performance suffered by nearly the same margin.

After answering these questions, I would have ruled in favour of OVERRULING the objection, and as essence, based my decision on the answer given above to Q4.

Note: I do not have any comment to offer on the way the objection was conducted by the Mysore stipes/stewards because I did not witness the process.


  1. Excellent logic Prakash. Good analysis. By the way a very happy new year to you and your family and staff.

  2. Kudos to your analysis. And thank you very much for taking pains and giving us a very informed and analytical break up.
    It was crisp, to the point, with no emotional ramblings. Just as responsible journalism should be.

  3. K Gandhi ghatkoparOct 21, 2009, 11:14:00 AM

    Good piece mr Prakash.
    Stipes @ all centers should read this article n work on those lines framing questions before sitting in judgment.
    Why don't you apply for stipes post @ rwitc? They need people like you.

  4. You must also ask the question did messalina stop? The answer is yes. Then ask why? answer is bcoz of sreenath's whip on her nose. You dont need software to see that.

  5. A model lesson to all stipes and stewards on how to apply mind to objection in a systematic way. Well done Gosavi.

  6. I would have agreed with you Gosavi but I think breaking of stride & changing lane costs at least 3 lengths. Messaline has lost by 2, so I feel the objection should have been upheld. Sharan Kumar is right this time. It is sad he is being attacked for his bias which even I agree is true. But what he says makes more sense to me than what you say.


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