Monday, December 14, 2009

Pesi made her battle-ready: Hughes

PURE DELIGHT: MiD DAY lensman catches English rider Richard Hughes indulging in a private moment of unadulterated joy after riding Jacqueline to 1000 Guineas victory on Sunday [(c) MiD DAY]

Three-year-old filly Jacqueline, owned by Mr & Mrs Vijay Shirke, Khushroo N Dhunjibhoy and Bergis Desai, handsomely won the grade 1, Giantti-Gitanjali Indian 1000 Guineas, the first Classic of the 2009-10 Mahalaxmi racing season on Sunday. The even-money favourite who registered a very impressive victory in the hands of Richard Hughes was trained by Pesi Shroff.

English rider Richard Hughes was specially flown in to ride Jacqueline, and he gave her a masterly ride, not losing his composure even when she was badly pocketed midway in the home stretch as stablemate Astral Flash (Suraj Narredu up) shot into the lead and kept going. Hughes, one of the tallest jockeys in the business, crouched elegantly on Jacqueline and waited patiently until the road for assault presented itself. He then angled her out, and she devoured ground with such rapid strides the fate of the race was sealed well before the wire.

"Full credit to Pesi (Shroff)," said the visiting English rider in a post-race interview, "he made her perfectly battle-ready. When I asked her to go, she instantly took cue and produced that amazing run. She's an absolutely Classic material."

News was already making rounds since Sunday afternoon that if Jacqueline wins the 1000 Guineas in style, she will be pitched against the "boys" (meaning colts & geldings) in the Indian 2000 Guineas scheduled for the next Sunday. Trainer Pesi Shroff confirmed the ambitious move immediately after her victory when speaking to a news channel. "Yes, she will be in the fray for the 2000 Guineas next Sunday," he said. The 2000 Guineas, also known as the first leg of the Triple Crown comprising of two more races like the Derby & the St Leger, rarely has the weaker sex in the line up. Only exceptionally talented fillies have dared to take on the colts, and Jacqueline's victory on Sunday surely accords her that status.

"I am extremely happy now, but I must confess for a moment I thought Astral Flash might kick on," a jubilant Vijay Shirke in whose colours Jacqueline crossed the wire, said from the trophy presentation dais, "this moment has come after a long time--the last time I had won the 1000 Guineas was with Thumbelina, and that was 17 years ago."

Trainer Pesi Shroff who had one-two in the Guineas, with Jacqueline and Astral Flash, had yet another fruitful day as he led in four winners on the nine-race card, taking his tally to an incredible 22 wins from only 42 runners saddled, working out to a stupendous strike rate of over 50%!

1 comment:

  1. Prakash,
    Have been a big fan of yours for a long time and respect your views and admire your courage to call a spade a spade.

    However I must object to your raising this canard of 'foreign jockeys' vs local jockeys. It does the sport no good since it unnecessarily drives a wedge in the racegoers mind, whips up unwanted parochial feelings.

    If you have witness racing abroad you will know the forcefulness and never say die spirit of jockeys who race abroad versus those in India. Their sense of timing, and judgement of pace is far superior to our boys who lack the killer instinct and aggression to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. The number of comparable Indianjockeys who can be said to possess such qualities must include but a handful names - Aslam Kader, Pesi Shroff, Malesh (in his heyday only), Rajendra, Appu and maybe a few more.

    Like any other sport racing too must be commented and appreicated based on a meritocratic system where inthe induction of jockeys from abroad actually nourishes the local system and we learn from their riding. If our boys were to be made to feel as if this is a foreign vs Indian affair it will scuttle their desire to learn and the objectivity as sportspersons. As such owners must also do their part in encouraging frequent interactions with foreign jockeys when they are here with their own stable jockeys here so that they learn what they may never do so simply riding our horses on our courses all their lives.

    Avid racegoer and a PG Fan


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