Even as Deepesh Narredu trained Giant Star is the talk horse of the South India Derby scheduled for Thursday for more than one reason, the focus of the attention is also on the Madras Race Club who under the dynamic Chairmanship of M A M R Muthaiah is making every effort to raise the profile of the sport and making a sincere attempt to establish Chennai as a premier racing centre.
There is a concerted attempt at every front and one can see the enormous progress that the club has made since the last year. The new stables, the outstanding equine facilities and the spruced-up facilities for racegoers and racehorse owners have their own tale to tell. While the other clubs are engaged in their battle for survival, Madras Race Club is totally focussed in regaining its old glory. The races have proved to be competitive and the infusion of more owners and talented trainers would surely serve to boost the profile further. The club gets the distinction of being the first in the country to go for High-Definition coverage of its races.
Coming back to the focus of this week`s South India Derby, the race has attracted a quality field and the race promises to provide an absorbing fare. There are 11 runners in the fray and the best-performed horse undoubtedly is the dual classic winner Born Queen from the stables of trainer Satish Narredu. The filly has been a prolific performer having already notched up four wins in a row this season. The daughter of Tazahum who is bred at the Coimbatore-based Sans Craintes Stud Farm won back-to-back classics on this track with so much ease that catapulted her as a star.
Born Queen is endowed with speed and she has already gone over the Derby trip of a mile and a half while winning the Oaks in great style. Though there could be a question mark about her ability to get the trip in a highly competitive field when she will not be able to run a relaxed race, the fact that she has won both her outings in style indicates that she has made the required progress with the ease of a champion. She can only beat the opposition that she is asked to tackle. Jockey Suraj Narredu believes that she is endowed with too much class which is her biggest asset. Suraj Narredu has been enjoying a glorious run winning a spate of classics all over India. One can look forward to another top-notch performance from both the filly and the jockey. Born Queen undoubtedly is the horse in the top bracket. Last year, the father-son combination won this race through Sir Supremo. The only negative thing about Born Queen is that she has already run four races in quick time.
Deepesh Narredu trained Giant Star who is one of the hot contenders for the Derby will now have the assistance of veteran jockey Y S Srinath, the man for the big occasion. Giant Star was unlucky in the Guineas as his jockey Yash Narredu could not an unhindered run for the Mumbai challenger. On two occasions, Giant Star ran into Ashwa Bravo at a crucial stage of the race which put paid to his hopes as Giant Star lost in a three-horse finish. Giant Star is shaping well in the workouts and it is widely believed that over this extended trip of a mile and half, he enjoys top billing. Surely the progeny of Excellent Art runs with a great chance of landing the spoils.
Karthik Ganapathy trained Taimur may get the tag of a favourite as she has beaten all the colts and geldings in the fray. Taimur won the South India 2000 Guineas, coming from way off the pace and got the measure of Giant Star and Vachan in a tight finish. The connections are quite optimistic about his prospects. Being a progeny of Multidimensional, there should be no doubt about his ability to tackle the extended trip with equal felicity. Taimur should relish a strongly run race as the connections are most likely to the plan of waiting with the horse for the eventual bid in the stretch. However, the pace of the race will not be relaxed like on that occasion when he won the Guineas.
Rakesh trained Vachan has proved a gritty customer with consistently good performances on the local track. The Mysore based Vachan won a race at Mysore during the Invitation Cup weekend races in March and his subsequent effort in the South India Guineas was eye-catching. He shaped to win the race as he got the better of Giant Star but his hopes were dashed in the closing stride of the race by Taimur. Vachan has as good a chance as any as he has performed consistently and in good company. Since the horses in the fray are well-matched, he will also have his share of supporters.
Pesi Shroff trained Bold Legend won a race over 2000 metes at Pune and his performance indicated that longer trips are his forte. We have to wait and see whether he has he class to make his presence felt but there is no doubt that he will enjoy the status as a strong contender as he belongs to the formidable stable of Pesi Shroff.
Sporting Memories from the stables of trainer Padmanabhan won a mile and quarter race at Bangalore with a start to finish effort. Being a progeny of Leitir Mor, it remains a matter of conjecture whether he would tackle the gruelling trip.