Friday, July 08, 2011

One horse race

An open race? Really??

Actually, I had planned the revival of this blog to coincide with the start of the Pune racing season scheduled to open on July 21. But I am forced to come out of the self-imposed exile and cut short a lovely, leisure-filled three months just because I cannot stand the kind of propaganda that is being made about this Kingfisher Bangalore Derby (Sunday, July 10) being a 'very open' race!

Very open? You must be kidding.

There is a 'king' among the horses in the fray who towers over all his rivals so decisively, that barring an unfortunate accident, the 50th running of the Kingfisher Bangalore Derby should turn out to be a one-horse race.

I am talking about Speed Six.

This extremely talented son of Six Speed out of Burden Of Proof made his debut four months ago and annihilated his rivals. But though he put 17 lengths between himself and his rivals in that race, and clocked good timing while doing so, the fact remained that there was not a single good horse among the beaten lot.

However, in his second start, the Juvenile Million over seven furlongs, Speed Six not only defeated, but actually frustrated--if you know what that means--some very good three-year-olds, including the well-performed Amadeus from Mumbai. And he did it with such an air of nonchalance--it strengthened his claim as probably the best three year old in training in the country at that point in time.

And then came the blotting of his copybook--for no fault of his own.

The connections in their wisdom chose to entrust him to P Trevor, a rising star for whom it was unfortunately a task he was not equal to at that stage.

Trevor was relatively new to the Bangalore track and had, only months ago, emerged from the trainee rank. Engaging him to don the prestigious Mallya silks, in a grade 1 race, at an alien track, on a public favourite was asking too much in the 'temperament' department. It's like asking a talented club cricket player to go out in the middle of a noisy, jam-packed Eden Gardens when the team needs to score five runs on the last ball of the match.

It is to the credit of the horse that despite such circumstances he almost won the race, clocking identical time of 1:38.64 as that of the winner Pronto Pronto. It was a shame, and a rather overzealous use of technology--the kind that hits at the very spirit of this competitive game--that Speed Six was declared the runner up based on the 'thousandth of a second', when officially the BTC (Bangalore Turf Club) publishes all times only up to the hundredth of a second.

Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that the so-called defeat does not take anything away from this extremely talented horse who now has the services of Chris Hayes, a jockey who knows the Bangalore race track like the back of his palm, has been quite successful in the past and most important, has the temperament to ride winners in big races.

All Chris Hayes needs is to do is to quickly acclimatize himself through the Saturday rides so that he can give out his best to Speed Six in the all-important race. And if that happens, no horse among the rivals stands a chance to humble him in the Bangalore Derby.


Too many people, including supporters of Speed Six, are a bit worried about his staying ability over the Derby trip of 2,000 meters. They cite that his mother, Six Speed, lost this same race years ago at the post to Allaire because she could not stay.

I don't give too much credence to this view for two reasons.

One, I think she (Six Speed) was an extra-ordinary sprinter-miler and it was jockey Pesi Shroff's genius that took her within the sniffing distance of the winning post in that 2,000-meter race, while the son, Speed Six, has not only inherited her brilliant speed but is also able to harness it, reserving his best for the final yards--I think he actually has the sixth gear.

And two, there is no Allaire in the fray this time.
Postscript 2: Posted at 9:20 pm on Thursday, July 14.

A lot of my readers wish to know what I have to say about the Bangalore Derby now, after it is clear CD Hayes is not coming to ride Speed Six, and C Alford will most probably ride him, because the tone of my article had made it clear to them that I was banking very heavily on the jockey factor.

Well, it sure is a bit of a dampener because I strongly believe it is not only the horse, but the 'horse+jockey combo' that runs the race.

Also, as I have made clear many times in the past in this blog, I believe in the truth of 'jockeys for courses', meaning however good a jockey may be at one center, I will not take him seriously unless his performance on the track under consideration can be depended upon.

In this sense, Christopher Alford's recent quadruple on the Bangalore track gives me hope, and reasonable confidence, to feel this star of the Kolkata track can do justice to Speed Six. At least, on that showing, he can be counted not to mess up with a good horse who, in my opinion, has an extra-ordinary chance to win.

Alford has experience and temperament to deliver the goods. In fact, I think the connections of Speed Six have made a wise choice under the circumstances.

Another reason I don't see any need to change my opinion is that unlike most who doubt Speed Six's staying ability over ten furlongs, I have taken the position that he has both speed and turn of foot to accelerate. In fact, under Chris Hayes I had expected the colt to race with the pace, take command rounding the turn, and sail away for a comfortable victory with absolutely no threat from anyone.

Now, with C Alford replacing C Hayes, what is the worst that can happen?

the margin of victory will diminish for Speed Six, maybe some rival/s will get too close for comfort, maybe it will not turn out to be a one-horse race as I had envisaged--but I still feel the champion in Speed Six will not let any horse pass him before the winning post arrives.

My money will still be riding on Speed Six, and who knows at the end of the day I may have good reason to thank C Alford for getting better returns on my money due to higher price.

Postscript 3:

I concede.

This really is an open race now what with Speed Six opting out of the fray due to a stress fracture.

Good luck to all in winner picking.




  2. Dear Prakash,
    Nice to see you back from your self imposed hibernation and I have to differ with your permission that in my opinion speed six probably may not stay the distance as PRONTO PRONTO has beaten it coming from behind (sixth at bend)that too on its first run. Moreover Ramus Star Marquess coming from 12th position has finished a credible fourth.SHARAN has used the word should win in favour of speed six and you have discounted intoto that there is no worthy opposition whatsoever.In my opinion SPEED SIX is a certain loser today. However only time will tell who is right. Have a great day
    ravi hyd

  3. Dear Prakash, Your views are your personal choice and no denying the fact that Speed Six has a good chance or let's say an outstanding chance in the Derby. I only hope you have not discussed this with Mr.Sharan Kumar who in any graded or feature event of the day will tip A Padmanabhan horse to win. He did so on Becket twice and the result was seen. My gut feeling saying this years derby will be won by an outsider at odds more than 10 1. Finally trainer Padmanabhan has 3 horses. If any of the other horse wins, I wonder who will be laughing. Till the result is announced, Adios. Captain.

  4. hi prakash

    do you stand by the opinion even after knowing that calcutta specialist c alford is guiding speed 6.


  5. hi sir
    how are you?
    good to see u after a long break
    kindly post follow horse list for PUNE(if possible)

  6. hi prakash,
    with no moonlight romance and xisca , what chances do ocean and beyond have at the st ledger ,pune


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