Monday, March 22, 2010

"She will always have a special place in my heart": Pesi

Jacqueline (R Hughes up) winning the Indian Derby 2010 from Becket (M Dwyer up)

By Pesi Shroff

Every once in a while, a special two year old walks into a trainer's yard, and life, as he knows it, changes forever. Jacqueline, a petite bay filly by King Charlemagne out of Talita Kumi from Sohna Stud was one such. Born with enough heart to accomplish what no other racehorse in the world has accomplished, Jacqueline won four Classics, The Indian 1000 Guineas, The 2000 Guineas, The Indian Oaks, and finally, that most coveted prize, The Indian Derby. She will certainly be remembered for this feat. Jockeys will speak her name with awe and she will find a place in the Indian Thoroughbreds Hall of Fame as a record breaker and a supreme racehorse. Today, as I prepare to send this four year old champion to Nanoli Stud Farm to breed, Jackie, as she is fondly called by my entire stable, will be remembered for so much more.

I will always remember her immense intelligence, the ease and the speed at which she understood what was required of her, her indomitable spirit that allowed her to take on bigger horses, and her sheer bravery, that kept her from being intimidated by the "boys".

The sheer unadulterated joy that she brought to her owners, the Shirkes, the Dhunjibhoys and the Desais after each of her victories prompted them to jump up like three kids hugging and kissing one another much to the embarrassment of their respective wives.

Her jockey, Richard Hughes, who rode her with the sensitivity and understanding that she deserved, will never forget her implicit obedience and generous response to his commands, even at the finish line when she never required more than hands and heels gentle reminders to give more than she had left to give.

Her groom, Swaroop Singh Inda, will remember how she would only eat after she had her back massage and never before, even if it was in her feed bowl. How, with a quiet word, she would come or go or walk out or trot up or lift up for the farrier or allow the vet to check her.

My wife, Tina will remember how gentle she was, how she became so dear, so precious, how she loved to be patted and how happy she was to be told she was a good girl and how her ears were always forward in greeting in her stable.

The Racing Public will remember her with reverence, the little filly that won eight of her eleven starts to standing ovations which she visibly enjoyed and acknowledged like a film star. I take this opportunity to thank all Jackie’s supporters who, even as I write this, are calling to find out when she will be brought out on parade for them to say goodbye.

So many people ask me what it was that set this filly apart, what it was she possessed that other horses did not, and I always said it was her heart. And that’s why a champion became a legend.

And so she will be remembered, not only because she was a supreme athlete, but because she ran with her heart.

It was truly an honour and a privilege to train her.

(As told to Judy Bidapa)

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