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Interesting battle on cards for South India Derby

  January 15 , 2020

The Madras Race Club which is reinventing itself as the formidable racing centre has been successful in making its racing competitive. The interest in racing conducted at Chennai is increasing thanks to the good measures that are being put in place. There is every sign of revival. The Madras Race Club has top-class infrastructure for racing to thrive and in the years to come, things should progressively get better.

The South India Derby that will be held on the traditional Pongal Day on Wednesday has an intriguing look with interesting possibilities. Unfortunately, Knight Templar who was a final entry was withdrawn from the fray because of paddock injury but one hopes that the progeny of Multidimensional will be fit and fine for the Indian Derby. Trainer Padmanabhan did not want to take any chance with a horse of immense potential and scratched him from the fray. This in effect meant that Mysore Derby winner Southern Ruler, Kingfisher Ultra Derby runner-up Impavid and Lightning Bolt are the main contenders.

Impavid from the stables of trainer Arjun Mangalorkar has been consistent though he has not accumulated the bagful of wins that looked possible at one stage. He found War Hammer a difficult customer to beat in the Colts Championship Stakes during the summer season and lost by a whisker to Well Connected in the Derby. Impavid managed to beat stablemate Royal Crystal to win the Deccan Colts Championship Stakes but success once again eluded him in the Deccan Derby where he ran below par finishing third to upset winner Consigliori.

Impavid found success coming his way in the South India 2000 Guineas where visiting jockey David Egan managed to guide him to safety from fast-finishing Lightning Bolt. One has not been able to pinpoint why Impavid tends to falter when he looks in control of the situation. Even on occasions when he has won, he has looked vulnerable as those coming from behind having come precariously close to toppling the progeny of Air Support. Impavid is no doubt highly talented but surely has some issues which is preventing him from achieving the promised potential.

Trainer Arjun Mangalorkar says that the horse has its share of niggles, but he is in good shape to have a bold show. ``I fancy Impavid strongly to win the Derby as the horses considered as threats have all been beaten by my horse comfortably. How well the horses in the fray will tackle the mile and a half trip is an unknown frontier. Everything depends on the way the race pans out. I believe that Impavid runs well when there is a challenge in front and because of this reason, the way the race is run is of critical importance.`` David Egan will continue his association with Impavid.

Ganapathy trained Southern Ruler won the Mysore Derby in splendid fashion. The progeny of Saamid appears to enjoy the extended trip and his performance took a quantum jump in the Mysore Derby. Southern Ruler enjoyed the trip and slammed the opposition in a manner which heralded him as a strong Derby prospect for the winter season. Southern Ruler ran a fair third to War Hammer over a mile. Southern Ruler has had a trouble-free training leading to this race. Southern Ruler has trained on well and since he is free from any niggle, he is one of the strong contenders to lift the plum. However, as Arjun Mangalorkar pointed out, in the Kingfisher Ultra Derby at Bangalore, Impavid had beaten Southern Ruler by 6.2 lengths and as such, Impavid will surely is superior on that score alone. But in racing, the best-argued theories take a toss because the way things pan out is not always as planned and one must be prepared for the unknown challenges.

Vittal Deshmukh trained Lightning Bolt is also a formidable contender. The progeny of Excellent Art out of Shamal was full of running when he lost narrowly to Impavid. A stronger ride could have tilted the race in his favour. Lightning Bolt who is a half brother to Derby winning Field Marshall has the class and he appears to be in good health. Lightning Bolt had bled when finishing third to War Hammer in the Colts Championship Stakes at Bangalore and was not seen in action for a considerable period. He raced in the month of October and won two back to back races. There is a great deal of expectation about a positive performance from the Hyderabad challenger. Veteran jockey Y S Srinath will be astride the Hyderabad hope this time out replacing Nathan Evans who rode the horse last time out.

Local challenger Supreme Fragrance has the experience of tackling the mile and half trip. She won the South India Oaks in heavy going albeit in slow timing and it is difficult to judge what her potential is as she beat an ordinary lot of horses who failed to perform on a difficult track.

Satish Narredu trained Sir Supremo has been a disappointment. He ran Impavid very close early in his career over a mile but thereafter took a long while to come out of the maidens ranks. Sir Supremo was two lengths behind Impavid in the South India 2000 Guineas and over a trip of a mile and half, he could prove a handful. On known form, he has plenty of catching up to do.

The Derby day has a long card of nine events. The two-day racing should considerably boost the image of racing in Chennai. The newly elected committee is making earnest efforts to promote racing and provide quality facilities to racegoers. It may take some time to put things in order after more than a decade of inactivity and one must have the patience for things to resolve. The intent is there.

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