Monday, March 29, 2010

Luck changes for Poonawallas

Dr Cyrus & Mrs Viloo Poonawalla (right) leading in Change Of Luck (Srinath up) with trainer Padmanabhan (left) after her sensational victory in the Gr 1, Indian St Leger

"No race is over until it's run"--this famous adage came to haunt jockey Suraj Narredu and Becket's connections at the end of a mile-and-three-quarters Casino Royale Indian St Leger when the photo finish camera found Becket's nose a couple of inches behind that of Change Of Luck, who brought unexpected cheer and glory to the Poonawalla camp as she was not only bred, but also owned by Dr Cyrus Poonawalla and his family.

"I had told a television channel before the race that I believed we had a chance at the St Leger," a jubilant Dr Poonawalla told MiD DAY, "she (Change Of Luck) always had it in her but somehow could not produce it after her Poonawalla Multi-million run last year when she had got the better of Jacqueline." Poonawalla also pointed out that two of her full brothers have won the St Leger, and added, "We thought she needed to come from behind, so we entrusted her to Srinath this time who knows how to ride a waiting race."

Poonawalla's strategy paid off brilliantly as Srinath showed exemplary patience despite a crawling pace as none of the five jockeys wanted to go to the front and tried putting their horses on a tight leash. Unable to exercise control, Sunny Chinoy astride Mighty Crusader awkwardly drifted sideways and dropped out of the race, forcing a reluctant Washington Irvine (C Alford up) to take the baton. He then showed the way to Native Knight, Change Of Luck and Becket who clearly hated the snail's pace and Suraj Narredu atop him had such a hard time settling him that he almost got unseated twice during the journey.

"Even I was fed up of the gentle pace," YS Srinath, who rode the winner Change Of Luck, told MiD DAY, "but then I saw Rajendra astride Native Knight moving up, and then Suraj (Becket) doing the same with five furlongs still to go."

"I sensed my big chance," Srinath continued, "unlike Becket, Change Of Luck does not have a great turn of foot, so my best chance was to stalk him, inch closer with every furlong and then make a final assault close home with an all-out effort. I knew it would be difficult for any horse to last out if you make a move at the five-furlong marker, especially in a mile-and-three-quarter race."

The pace picked up dramatically after Becket assumed command, and Srinath just tried to keep at his heels without putting too much pressure on the filly or going for her reserve fuel. However, after passing the final furlong marker Srinath rode like one possessed, and Change Of Luck closed on Becket with every stride to finally get the nod of the judge.

(c) MiD DAY


  1. Becket - A precocious talent at best

    If Becket was human, he must be having a massive roller coaster of an emotional ride in the last two months. Getting beaten by Jacqueline first, in a close finish after being ahead, then winning against her on sheer ability and the proverbial ‘stroke of luck’ and then another filly coming from behind to beat him in exactly the same fashion he beat Jacqueline. Wow! This is what sports is made of. Close finishes, evenly matched champions, fighting until the final cm of a race is won, victories being separated by proverbial whiskers. Am feeling the emotion as I pen this piece as well.

    But coming to the St Leger, it must be said, that Becket was done in by the conditions under which the race was run. A slow pace, hot weather and a fractious temperament (observe the number of times he appeared unsettled and wanted to break free from the tight reins). Becket’s string of two close losses and a win (which could have easily been described as ‘three close losses’) have something to do with his temperament and physical make-up. Too often have sportsmen lost in their prime form only because they have failed to withstand the pressure of the occasion or moment. Since we can’t attribute such higher forms of cerebral evolution to horses (although they are still very high in themselves) compared to humans, Becket’s two close losses are a consequence of his inability to deal with himself first and then the conditions.

    After the running of the Leger, I cannot put Becket down to more than a precocious talent. Becket’s running of all the three big races this season showed that he is second to none in terms of ability, but when he is made to run differently with varying pace of each race (as it has been), positioning during the race, the results show him as being either a ‘lucky winner’ or an ‘unlucky loser’; phrases one doesn’t associate with champions.

    Jacqueline on the other hand was something else. Her loss to Becket was a combination of Becket’s own brilliance on that day but also Jacqueline’s misfortune of the wining post coming one stride too late. Akin to Sachin getting out with one run to win on the last ball of in a World Cup final! In each of her victories she won from different positions at the bend, with varying pace of each race, against competition that included the best of her generation and over varying distances. Her manner of victories varied too, fighting close battles, coming from behind, winning with and without pacemakers.

    As the curtain comes down on the Classics this year and decade as well, I have little doubt that Jacqueline was arguably the finest horse of the decade in her class (Oasis Star must share honours among non-Classic winners) not just on account of the victories she scored but the manner in which she earned them. Last year, Set Alight came close to achieving similar accolades, but alas, she missed out on the Indian Derby. Jacqueline will be missed next year. Sorely by yours sincerely.

  2. sir pls post the finoo bets for the bangalore end season and continue for mumbai also.

  3. Bull Crap!

    Its nobody's talent,its just sharing of booty among themselves and press cooks nice stories supported by owners!
    Just read on -all these following horses at the same handicap race & see the outcome!
    Aboline had beaten Jacqueline,
    Jacqueline beats Becket, Becket beats Jacqueline & stroke of luck finally stroke of luck beats Becket,so moral of the story?? all top owners share the big prizes at their will and punters are just fools watching and doing postmortem!

    For big owners and those running the show its fun ,for bookmakers its money and finally for punters its misery


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