It is not often that local horses dominate the classic scene and as such, the victory of Srinivas Reddy trained Mahateji brought tremendous happiness to a massive crowd that come to witness the Gr 1 Golconda Derby Stakes, the star event of the season on Sunday. Mahateji asserted her supremacy in no uncertain manner with another local stalwart Air Strike take the runner-up position making it a unique 1-2 for local horses.
The Derbys have always been the preserve of the marauders from other centres and when local horses assert their supremacy, it gives everyone a sense of pride. English jockey Fergus Sweeney rode a peach of a race, overcoming the turbulence on the way with amazing alacrity to guide the son of Multidimensional to a decisive win. The Usha Stud Farm bred filly is owned by Rakesh R Jhunjunwala, Berjis Minoo Desai and Ashok Kumar Gupta.
The race had an open look about it though strictly going by their past performance and ability to stay, only three horses qualified as being the best among the lot namely Mahateji, Kambaku and Romantic Star. Shaman who had failed in Classics at Kolkata was perceived to be capable of ruling in the less exalted company, but he was not cut out for the task despite the tag of being the favourite for the race. Mahateji had won the Oaks though she was unfortunately disqualified for coming positive for a blood pressure medication and this win should be an adequate compensation for the local stalwart. For trainer Srinivas Reddy, this was the first Derby success of his career.
The saddle of Kambaku appeared to have shifted because of which the horse bolted to the front and ran at a scorching pace which resulted in the horse not running true to his potential. Jockey John could do little on the horse except to be a helpless passenger. To make matters worse, Arshad Alam who had literally slept through the race in the Oaks at Bangalore, drove out Somerset to take the lead using the whip aggressively as if he was out for a scurry. Eternal Angel, Nicaragua, Mahateji, Air Strike, China Millennium, Zelus, Romantic Star, Treasure Striker and Shaman raced behind in the order mentioned. The order kept changing at the back as there was a constant shuffling of positions with skirmishes in the rear group because of crowded field battling for a clear run.
Eternal Angel had the first run on her opponents when the race came to the boil with Nicaragua, Air Strike enjoying a useful lead over those coming from behind. Fergus Sweeney saw his passage on the inside being blocked as Shaman quickly improved position on her outside. Sweeney had to wait for a split second before he reacted with alacrity to get the filly going on the wide outside. In the meanwhile, Romantic Star who had run into rough weather, looking for the room was brought into contention on the wide outside albeit several lengths adrift of those in front. Air Strike overtook Eternal Angel inside the final 100 metres but he could not sustain the lead to the post as Mahateji pounced on the progeny of Burden of Proof and shot ahead in the shadow of the post thanks to the driving finish of Sweeney who rode like one possessed. Nicaragua ran on to finish third ahead of Romantic Star who finished with a good effort in the end to be an improved fourth.
The Derby day racing proved to be a nightmare for punters. Picking a winner in Hyderabad is always a difficult task. If a horse proves to be better than the rest, it will run at a very cramped price as there is no one confident enough to take these favourites on. And in the other races form runs truant making things difficult to predict the outcome of the race on the basis of the current record of the horses concerned.
Satyanarayana trained Moon Dancer who was running after 171 days due to an infection, was quoted at miserly odds to win the 1400 metres Aristocrat Plate as the others in the fray seemed to be reconciled to defeat. Jockey Trevor Patel took Moondancer to the front and the progeny of Excellent Art was not unduly extended to win from Phenomenal Cruise and Scooby Dooby Do. In the form that he is in, Moondancer can be expected to maintain his winning streak.
Another Satyanarayana trainee Dream Catcher has been reeling off successive wins with ridiculous ease. Dream Catcher was considered as a certainty in the 1200 metres Secretariat Cup, a race for horses rated 75 and above, despite facing accomplished performers. The odds quoted were too short for comfort. Paprika led the field deep into the straight before she was overhauled by Dream Catcher who responded well to the urgings of jockey Suraj Narredu and had no problem in keeping the challenge of Ambitious Approach at bay. King of Pop edged past Paprika to get the third place.
Laxman Singh trained Dance Oh Dance came in for spirited support to beat Highly Acclaimed in the 1200 metres Peddapalli Plate, a race for horses rated 42 to 62. Dance Oh Dance got the measure of front-running Highly Acclaimed in the final furlong but had to battle hard to keep the challenge of That`s My Class who made a good rally along the rails at bay. Kireeti got the better of Highly Acclaimed to save place money.
Hilton Sequeira trained Trump Girl won the 1100 metres Deccan Prince Plate, a race for maiden three-year-olds at nourishing odds. Hitting the front from the word `go`, Trump Girl was not headed by anyone. The well-backed Amazing Script tried hard to overtake the front-runner but in the process tired out and lost the runner-up berth to late rallying Meka`s.
Leo D`Silva trained Supremo who is in good form, asserted his supremacy in the 1600 metres Squanderer Plate, a race for horses rated 58 to 78 in tremendous fashion. Supremo produced stunning acceleration in the final furlong to easily measure the front-running Prince Caspian who had attempted to win with start to finish tactics. Batur too finished on well but just about failed to get the better of Prince Caspian for the runner-up position. Destined Dynamite who is always late to warm up found to his chagrin that his finishing effort would have no bearing on the result.
Laxman Singh trained Mozambique who was making a belated debut as a four-year-old made it a winning one in the 1200 metres Sikander-E-Azam Plate, a race for horses rated 26 to 46. Backed spiritedly based on the excellent preparation that the filly was subjected to, Mozambique easily overtook the front-running Indian Aristocrat to record a handsome win. Sarvatra nosed out Good Opinion to get the second place. Indian Aristocrat weakened to finish fourth.
Prasad Raju trained Royal Gift hadn`t run even 10 lengths of the winner on the last few occasions and the four-year-old filly recorded an upset win in the 1100 metres Race Club Plate, a race for horses rated up to 25 with a start to finish mission, drawing clear in the final furlong for a ridiculously easy win. Sefarina got the second position ahead of Cashel by a whisker. Big who came in for solid support in the ring, was not spotted.
Raju`s another ward Charlie Brown had won at fancy odds last time out and this time out was well backed to win in the 1600 metres Storm Trooper Plate, a race for horses rated up to 30. Charlie Brown appeared to be on course but was shocked by Handsome Boy who decided to turn the form upside down with a late surge which took him past the favourite for a shock win. Mountain of Light was third ahead of the well-fancied Novaturient.
Moondancer (Trevor Patel up) winner of the Aristocrat Plate
Trump Girl (Aneel up) winner of the Deccan Prince Plate
Supremo (Arshad Alam up) winner of the Squanderer Plate
Dance Oh Dance (Fergus Sweeney up) winner of the Peddapalli Plate
Handsome Boy (Abhishek S Pawar up) winner of the Storm Trooper Plate
Dream Catcher (Suraj Narredu up) winner of the Secretariat Cup
Mozambique (Neeraj Rawal up) winner of the Sikander-E-Azam Plate
Sunday Carnival (Akshay Kumar up) winner of the Artistic Tribute Plate
Mahateji (Fergus Sweeney up) winner of the Golconda Derby Stakes (Gr.1)
Royal Gift (Kunal Bunde up) winner of the Race Club Plate