Monday, October 15, 2012

Dashrath Singh interview

Never expected such a dream weekend: Dashrath

By Prakash Gosavi

Winning as many as seven races over one weekend, and topping it with the first ever Classic success, was not really something jockey Dashrath Singh had expected even in his wildest dreams. The modest, soft-spoken 27 year old jockey on Sunday won the Nanoli Stud Pune Derby with the Bezan Chenoy-trained Commander, a 7-1 shot who fought every inch of the last furlong of the mile-and-a-quarter trip with the Malesh Narredu-trained Shivalik Hero (B Sreekanth up) to finally prevail by a proverbial whisker. In terms of timing, the verdict was only two-hundredths of a second.

Jockey Dashrath Singh spoke to MiD DAY after winning the Pune Derby. Excerpts from the exclusive chat:

MD: How did you get the ride astride Commander?
DS: (Trainer) Bezan (Chenoy) sir had asked me some time back if I would ride Commander as they were planning to pitch him in the Derby fray by paying the final entry fee. Mr Sultan Singh, who has bred the horse and also owns it, had also spoken to me.

MD: Did you fancy his chances? How confident were you before the race?
DS: Frankly, I did think we had a chance because I had once tracked alongside Commander & Shakti Singh with the filly Vittoria. I knew he had come up after his last run, and in fact, when Sultan sir phoned on Saturday, I told him I expected to finish in one-two.

MD: What were the instructions given to you in the paddock?
DS: Bezan sir does not burden with too much advice. He just told me to ride my own race, so I was quite relaxed though this was Derby.

MD: Did the race unfold as per your expectations and plan?
DS: You cannot have a plan for a race like the Derby because everyone is thinking only for himself and his horse. Yes, I was not really bothered about the favourite (An Acquired Taste). I had checked the runs of all rivals, and I felt Shivalik Hero was the horse to beat. So I just tried to keep close to him until the race heated up.

MD: During the neck & neck battle in the final furlong, did the fear of losing cross your mind?
DS: No, the way we two were going, I always knew I am not going to concede the advantage. Commander was a very well prepared horse, so it was not difficult to control the situation. Yes, the verdict was a short head, but I think we were always in command.

MD: Had you called your family or friends to witness your first Derby victory?
DS: (laughs) No. That's because in the past whenever I called them, I failed, and became a butt of joke among my friends.

MD: Your first Derby victory.....
DS: Yes, and my first Classic too. Since last year, I have had mounts in both Mumbai & Pune Derby, but Commander was the first horse with a realistic chance. I am glad we made it.

MD: You were absolutely on a roll....winning seven races over the weekend. Did you see it coming?
DS: No. Actually most of my mounts had only outside chance in their respective races, so frankly, I never really expected such a dream weekend. 

(c) MiD DAY

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