Monday, February 07, 2011

Derby report

Moonlight Romance triumphs in Derby

Prakash Gosavi

Four year old filly Moonlight Romance won the McDowell Signature Indian Derby (grade 1) in a thrilling finish from Ocean And Beyond, Xisca and Macchupicchu. The winner and runner up were both owned by Rakesh Kumar Wadhawan and Prem Tharani, representing Wadhawan Livestock Pvt Ltd.

Ten minutes later than the scheduled time of 5:15 pm, the starter sent the dozen runners off to a level start from opposite the Members' stand to the deafening shrieks of an excited crowd of 25,742 spectators. Ocean Admiral (NG McCullagh up) tried to dictate the pace in the early part but was soon overtaken by the Pesi Shroff-trained Batista (Malcolm Kharadi up) who stepped up the pace to a scorching level. David Allan settled Moonlight Romance in mid-bunch closely followed by Ocean And Beyond (Richard Hughes up), with Xisca (Stephane Pasquier up) closer to the rear.

As the heads turned for home, Macchupicchu (B Prakash up) and Moonlight Romance with D Allan astride made quick forward moves, seeing which, Richard Hughes also alerted Ocean And Beyond to the task. As the front runners wilted under pressure, Moonlight Romance took charge but B Prakash on Macchupicchu challenged her strongly and came almost abreast, at which stage Hughes also tried to force his way between the two, and for a moment, it looked like it could be anybody's race. But David Allan showed great temperament when he goaded Moonlight Romance to keep going, and with resolute urgings, he finally managed to detach from the duo to post a length-and-a-quarter victory over owner-mate Ocean And Beyond. Xisca finished full of running to take up the third berth ahead of Macchupichhu, who also ran a very impressive race.

The Wadhawan camp, owners of Moonlight Romance and Ocean And Beyond, were jubilant after running one-two in the Derby. "This season has been fantastic for us," Prem Tharani, part owner and partner of Rakesh Kumar Wadhawan, said in a post-race chat, "actually this is our first serious season as horse owners, and after winning the Bangalore and Pune Dery, we have now won the ultimate race. We couldn't have asked for more."

Senior partner Rakesh Kumar
Wadhawan however made it clear that this was only the beginning. "I am already looking forward to the next big win, the Invitation Cup next month," he said in a matter-of-fact tone, "we will love to run all our horses--Moonlight Romance, Ocean And Beyond, Sunlight, and maybe Sun Kingdom from Bangalore will also be here for the occasion."

Cooji Katrak, for whom this was his first Indian Derby victory in a career spanning three decades, was overjoyed with the success. Katrak, who had spent anxious moments looking for a good rider for Moonlight Romance after Richard Hughes opted to ride the Sunderji-traiend Ocean And Beyond, had finally settled on David Allan when his efforts to import world class jockeys Ryan Moore or Jimmy Spencer from England were thwarted by the union of Indian jockeys, the Jockeys Association of India, who put their foot down and finger on the rule book.

"The boy (David Allan) rode a very good race," Katrak told MiD DAY after the Derby victory. "He handled her well, and was simply brilliant in the final furlong," he told MiD DAY.

Katrak was also delighted with the way Moonlight Romance earned her Derby victory. "She gamely challenged the front runners, she fought it out with them," Katrak said in a post-race interview after leading in the winner, "and in the last 100 yards I knew she would outstay all of them."

When MiD DAY asked about the future plans for Moonlight Romance, Katrak said, "As I had said after her Oaks victory, she will be under watch for a week, and I expect her to be in the fray for the Invitation Cup next month."

Usha stud: back on the map

Usha stud that had once almost monopolized Indian Derby when horses bred by them had won five Indian Derbies on the trot between 1981-85, seems to have struck back gold once again after a long time. Ameeta Mehra, owner of Usha stud who had bred the winner Moonlight Romance at their farm, was extremely delighted with the show as besides the winner, Xisca and Macchupicchu who finished third and fourth respectively in the Derby, were also bred at her farm. "This is our 12th Indian Derby victory," she proudly announced, "and I am specially happy because we finally got over the jinx of 11 wins where we were stuck for a long time."

Ameeta however made it a point to publicly thank her entire team--staff, syces, managers--even well wishers and friends who she said had always stood by her. She further added, "Personally I feel great today because China Visit (sire of Moonlight Romance), in whom many so-called experts did not have confidence, has won four or five Derbies this year, culminating in this spectacular Indian Derby success."

"Derby will get bigger, better": Vijay Mallya

Dr Vijay Mallya, who was personally present along with his son Siddharth to give away trophies to the winning connections, expressed satisfaction over the way the McDowell Signature Indian Derby has evolved over the years since he first sponsored the race in 1985.

"The period of 27 years is a long time," Mallya said from the presentation dais, "we have been sponsoring the Indian Derby since 1985, and it has been a great showcase for our brands."

Mallya also confirmed the renewal of the Derby sponsorship for five more years between 2013-17 for a whopping Rs 28 crores, a deal he signed with Vivek Jain, chairman of RWITC, yesterday at Mahalaxmi.

"People turn out in their finest regalia, making Derby the hottest occasion in Mumbai's sporting social calendar,"
Mallya observed, "we will continue to sponsor the race even beyond this five-year contract, and it will only get bigger and better with every passing year," he promised the audience.

(c) MiD DAY

1 comment:


    great analysis & conclusions.

    do u concur.



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