Tuesday, February 02, 2010

In just now (09:20 PM, Tuesday, Feb 2): "Our ideas about the horse did not match, so there was no progress after an initial interest. However, Madhur is a friend, and we had a great evening together." ~ Dr Cyrus Poonawalla said when phoned.
In just now (10:25 AM, Tuesday, Feb 2): My sources have just indicated the deal hinted at in the article below has fallen through. The exact reason for the fallout is not known yet. ~Prakash Gosavi

No one is confirming it; but no one is denying it either.

It is learnt from impeccable sources that Dr Cyrus S Poonawalla, the high-profile breeder and former chairman of the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) Ltd, is in final negotiations with industrialist Madhur Bajaj, owner of Native Knight, who is scheduled to run in the grade 1, McDowell Signature Indian Derby at Mahalaxmi on Sunday, February 7. As of this writing (Monday night), the two are inking the deal over a dinner at Poonawalla's home in Pune.

Ironically, Native Knight was bred at the Poonawalla stud farm and, as a two-year-old, was sold to Madhur Bajaj for his bloodstock company Chetak Horse Racing Pvt Ltd. So, in a way, the Poonawallas are actually buying back their own horse in a bid to have a serious Derby contender.

Interestingly, the four-year-old by Placerville out of Native Tactics is yet to win a single race, but pedigree experts believe he has
the bloodlines and stamina to stay the grueling Derby trip of mile-and-a-half. If my sources are to be believed, the Poonawallas are paying an astronomical price to buy back Native Kinght, who at best, has an outside chance to topple the applecart of favourite Jacqueline, who has swept all the three Classics--the 1000 Guineas, 2000 Guineas and the Oaks--run so far, and is a piping-hot on-money favourite for the Derby.

When contacted by my MiD DAY colleague over the phone, Madhur Bajaj laughed and said, "Well, there are talks; in fact, there is a lot of talk, but there is no deal as of now." He added, "I cannot give air to rumours, one cannot say anything till things are finalized," clearly hinting the speculation was not completely baseless, though he chose to term it as 'rumours'.

Dr Cyrus S Poonawalla, on the other hand, laughed loudly when contacted. "I will tell you for sure on Tuesday (today) morning. Give me a call then," he said. When pressed for an answer if he thought the colt, Native Knight, could beat the Derby favourite Jacqueline, Poonawalla said, "No, I do not think he could beat the filly," before repeating, "but call me tomorrow morning and I would let you know."

Our sources, however, have categorically informed us that not only will Native Knight run the Derby in the Poonawalla family's silks, but no stone will be left unturned to ensure he runs the best race of his career on the D-day.

Arrangements are being made to get renowned French jockey Olivier Peslier to ride the gelding in the big race. Peslier, champion jockey in France, is a sort of Derby specialist rider who has won an English and an Irish Derby besides three French and two German Derbies in a career spanning 19 years. A special team is working overtime to get the Frenchman, who is riding at Dubai right now, an Indian VISA so that he can reach Mumbai Friday night.

Ironically, trainer Narendra Lagad, the one man who has looked after Native Knight and kept him fit enough to have the Poonawallas enamoured of his Derby prospects, may lose control of the horse if the deal goes through, as Native Kinght will most probably be entrusted to either S Padmanabhan or Imtiaz Sait, who train the Poonawalla horses.


  1. Thatz good news ..... Lot of improvement in Native Knight... Finishing well in the later stages of races... Shld run close o the favourite jack'lin @ the all important end if handled with grit....

  2. prakash
    you always ahead of other press reporters
    regarding some good news
    keep it up
    hope you are fine
    when are we going to get the news about the stress management book
    take care

  3. It's not possible.

    Col B S Kochar (Retd)

    I've interacted on your blog after a long time.

  4. Prakash ji..

    I am yeshwanth from blore can u pls include me in your finoo list My email Id yeshwanth1974@gmail.com and my cell numbr is +919845283878

  5. Could the actual price for the horse be quoted in print for common punters and non-racegoers to get a knowledge of the astronomical World of Horse-racing.

  6. Dear Prakash,

    I had earlier reported that i hv stopped receiving sms since jan 3rd and you had clarified that it was not being delivered due to some network error.
    However now i am able to receive other bulk sms so pls continue sending me the sms and i will confirm as and when i receive it.

    Ranadev Nair

  7. Dear Easwaran,
    I had to leave the bag of books in Bangalore as I was carrying excess baggage on the return flight. However, the same is now on the way back through courier.

    However, since there are only 22 copies, 16 of the 38 people will receive photocopies of the book.

    I hope the dispatch will be organised soon after the Derby.

    Dear Yeshwanth and Ranadev Nair,
    I have asked your numbers to be added to the FINOO Club database.

    Dear Rudolph,
    I thought it was not appropriate to talk of the exact price unless the deal went through, so I refrained from it, although chose to term it "Astronomical."


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