Monday, January 17, 2011

The 'Hughes' factor

Hughes is a huge factor: Prem Tharani

Prakash Gosavi

Ocean And Beyond strengthened his claim as prime contender for the Indian Derby by winning the grade 2, Ramniwas Ramnarain Ruia Gold Cup at the Mahalaxmi racetrack yesterday. The Kingsalsa - Sayuri four-year-old trained by SK Sunderji and ridden by Richard Hughes spared a length to the Pesi Shroff-trained Macchupicchu (B Prakash up) at the wire, clocking a brilliant 2 minutes, 3.22 seconds for the ten-furlong trip.

Prem Tharani,
who owns Ocean And Beyond along with RK Wadhawan, confirmed to MiD DAY that Ocean And Beyond will next race in the grade 1, McDowell Indian Derby that will be run at the Mahalaxmi racetrack on Sunday, February 6.

"He won easy and came out of this race well," said a happy Tharani,
in a post-race chat, "he has great scope for further improvement. I am positive he will easily tackle the Derby trip of mile-and-a-half."

In reply to a question about who he thinks Ocean And Beyond will have to beat in the Derby, Tharani laughed aloud, before saying, "Oh, he will have to obviously beat our own other horses."

When asked if he did not think Siachen, winner of the Indian 1000 Guineas, as a threat for Ocean And Beyond in the Derby, he said, "Siachen is a good horse, she won well too, but I have heard she may skip the Oaks and directly race in the Derby. And in any case, I can only talk about my horses because I know how they are being prepared."

Tharani was all praise for Richard Hughes whom he has retained to ride his horses this sesaon. "Richard Hughes is a huge factor in our success this season, especially in the major events," Tharani added, "he is a master horseman, and his feedback is immensely valuable."

Richard Hughes, the 'master' horseman, however, has a difficult task to carry out. He has to pick the correct horse to ride each time as every major race has multiple horses racing in the now-famous silks--gold, red sash & white sleeves--of Wadhawan & Tharani. Nevertheless, so far Hughes has made all correct calls: in July last year, he won the Bangalore summer Derby with Moonlight Romance beating Sun Kingdom of the same owners, and just last month he rode the same Ocean And Beyond to a narrow 2000-Guineas victory over Star Future, again, carrying the same silks of Wadhawan & Tharani.

"I am sure Richard will make the right call in the Derby too," Tharani expressed hope, "because we will be racing all our top horses--Ocean And Beyond, Moonlight Romance and Sun Kingdom."

Tharani had reason to be doubly happy as the other major event on the Sunday card, the Sahaan Juvenile Multi-Million, was also won by his horse, Mountain Glory, trained by Cooji Katrak and ridden by none other than Richard Hughes. "Well, today Mountain Glory had advantage at the scales because of the terms of the race," Katrak was frank with MiD DAY, "he will need to come up before the next big race, and I hope he will."

Incidentally, Katrak, who also won the Ahmed I Rahimtoola Trophy with Black Magic Woman, shared the day's honours with Imtiaz Sait who saddled a brace through Swoosh and Forever Young. In the riding department, besides Richard Hughes (Mountain Glory and Ocean And Beyond), their feat was matched by Dashrath Singh (Forever Young and Tell Me More).

(c) MiD DAY

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