• Punjabi Girl wins The Fillies Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
  • Sir Cecil wins The Colts Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
By Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)
Sunday 29 Sep 2013
Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)

A field of a round dozen will line up for the Vijay Textiles Deccan Derby, Gr.1 on Wednesday with five trainers fielding a brace each while two have a solitary filly running. The fillies are outnumbered 1:3 but can take comfort from the fact that in the last six years they have  been able to maintain parity as far as winning is concerned. Outstation horses have won 6 of the last 10 runnings and they have a 7 against 5 edge this year. Over the same period, just three favourites have justified the confidence of the punters and two of them came from the yard of trainer S. Padmanabhan. 

Malakpet is trainer Padmanabhan's happy hunting ground and he comes this year with Isn't She Special (Ace - Rain Splasher), who is the only Classic winner in the field having won the Mysore1000 Guineas, Gr.3. Padmanabhan has won the last two runnings of this race through In The Spotlight and Borsalino. Isn't She Special, in fact, is following the In The Spotlight trail. Both fillies are Poonawalla Farm-bred and owned by Capt Jamshed Appoo but whereas In The Spotlight was awarded the Mysore 1000 Guineas much later, Isn't She Special is a winner in her own right. Padmanabhan won the Golconda Oaks, Gr.2 with her dam who is from the Ruta branch (Adler, Smart Chieftan, Mystical, Southern Empire, most recently Southern Emperor and many others) of the Schiaparelli family. Ace covered quite a few staying, Classic mares in his first year but he hasn't had many notable winners over 2000 m. or more and his four black-type wins so far have been at a mile only. Still, Isn't She Special should not be too worried by the distance but the postponement of the Mysore 1000 Guineas, Gr.3 means that she has a shorter than ideal gap between the two races. Trainers Madhav Mangalorkar, Jaggy Dhariwal and R.R. Byramji have earlier recorded hat-tricks in the 42 year-old history of the race.

Pesi Shroff has won both the Fillies' as well as Colts' races earlier this year and he is in line for a clean sweep, achieved earlier by R.R. Byramji and S. Ganapathy. He travels from Pune with Jeremiah (Jeremy - Acciacatura) and Amistad (Glory of Dancer - Dynasty). The 'got-abroad' Jeremiah is the only runner in the contest to have won over 2000 m. but that was in a weak, 'maidens only' race.  His sire was a fair miler who started at Irish National Stud for a fee of  12,500 but is now at Garryrichard Stud  and dropped to 3,000 euros. He has had three crops to race so far and has had winners, including over hurdles, but no one noteworthy. The dam Acciacatura by the sprinter Stravinsky won once over 1200 m. from 15 starts and placed second in a Listed race over the same distance. Her one winner abroad by the miler Whipper has won over 1600 m. The third dam Princess Rooney was a Champion Older Mare in U.S.A. and counted the Breeders' Cup Distaff among her five Gr.1 wins. This is an excellent family which traces to the famed tap-root La Troienne but Jeremiah's immediate antecedents don't inspire much confidence, at this stage, for a contest of this nature over the distance. The only grey in the field, he is owned by Mr. Haresh Mehta whose horses are usually trained by Mansoor Shah, Padmanabhan or C.D. Katrak.

Amistad has two wins over a mile against his name and he was a close third in the General Rajendrasinhji Million over 1800 m. to the unbeaten, well regarded To The Manor Born. His dam, too, was a pure -- but classy -- sprinter who won half a dozen races and placed second in Nanoli Stud Sprinters' Cup, Gr.1. Like Isn't She Special, Amistad traces to Schiaparelli but is from the branch that gave the Indian Derby winner Star Supreme. Glory of Dancer's first Indian Derby winner was also out of a short-running mare. Amistad appears the likelier of the two Shroff runners though his stamina quotient needs to be demonstrated.

At this time last year, trainer L.V.R. Deshmukh was on cloud nine courtesy of 'got-abroads' Machiavellianism and Vijays Pride. This year, things haven't been so rosy and he will be looking to redress that with Fastest Finger (Holy Roman Emperor - Fragrant) and Racing Ahead (Shamardal - Rah Wah). The dams of both these horses were imported through Mr. Ajay Anne of New Approach Stud, the former foaling at Dolphin Stud and the latter at Hazara Stud. Coolmore's Holy Roman Emperor  is a successful stallion who has already had a good winner in India in the shape of Smashing. Fastest Finger is from an excellent miler family in immediate generations which also boasts of Alnasr Alwasheek. Fastest Finger's unraced dam has had two minor winners abroad over shorter distances with one of them winning at a mile. The Deshmukh trainee went down fighting in Acclaimed's DBA Hyderabad Colts' Championship Stakes, Gr.3 and was not far behind the winner. He is in with a chance which is not gilt-edged.

More likely to get the trip is Racing Ahead (Shamardal - Rah Wa) though he has so far not raced beyond 1400 m. over which he has registered a hat-trick in his last three starts. His sire Shamardal, a winner of the Prix du Jockey Club, Gr.1, is a Darley stallion standing at Kildangan Stud in Ireland and commanding a 50,000 euros covering fee as befits someone who has ten Gr.1 winners spread across the world. The unraced Rah Wa, in-foal to Shamardal for 21,000 euros, hence represents a real steal. Racing Ahead's Dubai Destination half-brother Flying Power is a winner of six races in England and they include five over a mile and a half. Rah Wa herself is a full-sister to Group placed Arctic Cry, three-parts sister to stakes winner Efficient Frontier and a half-sister to Navesink (Jamaica Handicap, Gr.2) and comes from a good, running American family.

Dr. M.A.M. Ramaswamy's duo, trained by S. Ganapathy, consists of Strike the Stars (Haafhd - Mazeej) and Scenic Warrior (Multidimensional - Star Luminary). The first named is a 'got-abroad' whose sire, a Champion 3YO in England, was launched by Nunnery Stud at a fee of 20,000 pounds but now finds himself at Beechwood Grange Stud offering his services at 3,000 pounds. The attraction of Mazeej to Poonawalla Farms was obvious because her dam is a full-sister to the dam of their star stallion Placerville. Strike the Stars won the Bangalore Summer Million, Gr.3 at long odds beating his stablemate Supreme Regime but beat just one home in the DBA Hyderabad Colts' Championship Stakes, Gr.3. Supreme Regime, in the meantime, has run two poor races to de-value the form. Scenic Warrior, whose dam won the Poonawalla Bangalore Derby, Gr.1, is a horse bred for longer distances and lack of a finishing kick has hampered his progress at shorter trips. Scenic Warrior is quite capable of producing an upset.

On his debut as a 2YO, Charlatan (Burden of Proof - Corsican Gal) was beaten just over two lengths by Czar of Romance whose last two runs at Hyderabad and Mysore more or less confirm that form. Since then, Charlatan has beaten Arrogant Approach, Scenic Warrior, Fastest Finger and Jersey Shore in different races. What boosts his prospects is his third in the Kingfisher Derby Bangalore, Gr.1 where Acclaimed and Czar of Romance were behind him. Though he was beaten by Southern Emperor in the Mysore Million Gr.3, the subsequent victory of Dr. Ramaswamy's runner in the Jayachamaraja Wadiyar Golf Course Mysore 2000 Guineas, Gr.3 is in his favour. As he will be running in Dr. Mallya's colours, one can expect an honest endeavour. The question, however, is his stamina for the trip. The Balidar mare Bou Bou came to Doaba Stud in mid-1980s. 21 of her descendents have raced so far -- including Boodles and Exclusive Virtue -- and they have won 71 races. Only one of those races was beyond a mile and that came when Charlatan won over 1800 m. in Bangalore. Burden of Proof has had good winners at 2000 m. or more but usually they have been out of staying mares.

Arrogant Approach is by Freshman Sire Carnival Dancer -- whose progeny should like a trip -- out of DBA Hyderabad Fillies'  Trial Stakes winner Passion To Perform. Lucy Diamond is by Lucifer Sam, also a first season sire, and her dam won Sprinters' Cup, Gr.1 at Hyderbad while Palm Springs (Placerville - Shalaya) is bred to stay but hasn't raced beyond a mile. Vocation (Multidimensional - Cacophony) has won twice over 1400 m., is bred to be best around a mile and was beaten three and a half lengths at level weights by Racing Ahead on his last start. Earlier in Bangalore, he was beaten by by Charlatan, Scenic Warrior and Perfect Soul who ran poorly at Mysore on Friday. Subsequently, Vocation was unplaced when Strike The Stars won his first race.

There are several runners about whom there is an apprehension about their ability to get the distance and those whose breeding suggests that they should but are short on performance. That should make for a fascinating contest.


The scheduling of the Deccan Derby is date specific. It is always run on 2 October. In the 42 runnings so far, that date has not been adhered to just once. In 1977, it was run on 4 October. It was planned to run it on 2 October but postponed to two days later. Does anyone remember the reason for the postponement ?

The unique Deccan Derby of 1977 was won by Grand Parade (Everyday II - Mumtaz) who followed up his earlier win in the Deccan Bookmakers Hyderabad Colts' Trial Stakes. In the Derby, Grand Parade, who was owned by Mr. & Mrs. A.C. Muthiah and trained by J. Tyrrell, had things all his way, winning comfortably by four lengths under Richard Alford. The dark bay colt provided the first Classic victory to his sire as well as Dashmesh/Hargobind Stud where he was foaled. Despite a relative low period of late, Dashmesh/Hargobind has gone on from Grand Parade's win to record over a hundred Classics in India.

The rather unfashionably bred Everyday II, who spent most his remaining career at Doaba Stud, ended up siring 24 individual Classic winners who won 67 Classics between them. At the time of his death, his record was unsurpassed in the annals of Indian breeding. He was, perhaps, the last successful sire descending from The Tetrarch; "Spotted Wonder" as he was called. Everyday II figures in the pedigree of Charlatan.