• Punjabi Girl wins The Fillies Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
  • Sir Cecil wins The Colts Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
  • Sir Cecil wins The Kingfisher Ultra Derby Bangalore (Gr.1)
  • Desert God wins The Tetrasoft Inc. Bangalore St. Leger (Gr.2)
By Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)
Thursday 17 Oct 2013
Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)

The Mysore Derby, Gr.1 is the last Classic of the racing year 2012-13 and for the first time in over  two decades it has no sponsor. Kingfisher lent its brand name to the race in 1991 and continued to do so for the next 11 years. Then it was the turn of the Poonawallas who sponsored it for 10 years. With eight winners of the race, the Poonawallas head the table of the stud farms and only one of those winners came during the years of their sponsorship. This year, they have a splendid chance of increasing their tally -- and in the process completing a clean sweep of this year's Mysore Classics --though they have only one horse in the fray.

That horse is Southern Emperor (Placerville - Mystic Dancer), owned by Dr. M.A.M. Ramaswamy, who is a winner of his last two starts, both at Mysore and both over a mile. First, he disposed off Charlatan by a length and a half in the Mysore Million, Gr.3 and then just got the better of Czar of Romance in the Mysore 2000 Guineas, Gr.2  In the Vijay Textiles Deccan Derby, Gr.1, Jeremiah beat Charlatan by exactly the same margin so trainer Ganapathy's ward comes out level with Shroff's grey. Apart from Czar of Romance and Charlatan, Southern Emperor has beaten Ace Badraan, Ace Bucephalus (twice), Perfect Soul and Turf Striker with much greater margins.

If the chronometer at Mysore Race Club can be trusted, Southern Emperor has run the fastest ever mile in India. He stopped the clock at 1.33.85 in the Mysore 2000 Guineas, Gr.2 and that immediately ringed him with a halo. Fair enough. What seems forgotten is that it was a fortuous bob of heads which gave him the race and that the Czar comes out as good as him on the bare running. What gives Southern Emperor the edge, though, is that he has a much classier pedigree. A son of the mighty Placerville, he is out of a full-sister to Mystical. He has not raced beyond a mile yet but the pedigree suggests that a 2000 m. trip will suit him better than Czar of Romance. The fact, however, is that on paper there just a difference of a few millimetres between a horse who will probably start at short odds-on and the other who may well go to the post at 3 to 1 or more.

Czar of Romance has raced just once over 2000 m. and that was in the Kingfisher Derby Bangalore, Gr.1 where he finished with the washing way behind Turf Striker and Charlatan. It is hard to say whether it was the distance or the going which was his undoing. On pedigree, he should get the trip in his own class but could have problems against classier rivals with stouter bloodlines. Third in the Kingfisher Derby Bangalore, Gr.1 and second in the Vijay Textiles Deccan Derby, Gr.1, Charlatan has outrun his heritage in terms of distance. Never off the board in his seven starts, he is as honest as they come. He will be very much on the premises, lurking to grab any opportunies the race may throw up. He needs to finish in the first three to recover the hefty final entry fee he has forked out.

Turf Striker had a splendid summer campaign in Bangalore. He first beat Striking comprehensively in the Mayor's Cup; was the fourth to Alaindair in the Bangalore Colts' Championship Stakes, Gr.1 and finished even closer -- just half a length away -- to the winner in Kingfisher Derby Bangalore, Gr.1. He is reported to have then had a setback in training and ran poorly in the Mysore 2000 Guineas, Gr.2. It is difficult to keep a Classic contender going and even harder to bring one back into contention after a hiccup and this where the Classic experience of a handler comes in. He cannot be ruled out entirely, though; especially if you take a line through Charlatan and Jeremiah.

Ace Bucephalus, Scenic Warrior and Racing  Ahead, Beauty Is Truth -- still a maiden ! -- and Perfect Soul are all well exposed horses and there doesn't seem to be a tangible reason to expect any one of them to overturn the form and beat Southern Emperor or Charlatan or Czar of Romance. So beating all three of them and winning the race would be miraculous.

Having said that, winter hopes are still held out for Scenic Warrior, unless he is soured by then with incessant racing, to show up over 2400 m. On Sunday, he may have a limited task of making the pace for Southern Emperor. The stable does, however, bowl a wrong 'un now and then and have the anticipated pacemaker at the rear ! It certainly confuses the field and tactics are quite fair.

There is one relatively unexposed horse and that is Ace Badraan (Rebuttal - Badraan). Ace Badraan's Shamardal half-brother Shivalik Star has won 6 races, none beyond 1400 m. and twice broken the Mysore 1200 m. track record. Their elder half-sister Eastern Aria (by Halling) has won 10 races in Europe including DFS Park Hill Stakes, Gr.2 over 3100 m. Ace Badraan has had just three starts so far and came out of the maidens on his last run over a mile. He obviously has potential but it is not easy to pinpoint what his ideal aptitude will be.

The Mysore Derby has been run 37 times so far and 17 favourites have won at a very healthy average of almost 46 %. That despite the fact that in the last ten runnings only two favourites came good.


And, finally, some trivia about the Mysore Derby.

         *  Dr. M.A.M. Ramaswamy, of course, heads table of winning owners with 11 wins but he hasn't won the race since 1997 when Octogonal carried his silks first past the post. Dr. Ramaswamy had four runners in the race including the 6/4 joint favourite Star Supreme. Octogonal was at 9/2 while Rich Ground and Remember Star were at longer odds. R.R. Byramji-trained joint favourite Regal Equity seemed to be landing the spoils when Sarish Narredu slipped Octogonal along the rails and won by a neck. Star Supreme, ridden by Mallesh Narredu, was a late third five and a half lengths behind.

         *  S. Ganapathy has saddled winners  of 84 Classics. However, he has not had a winner of the Mysore Derby so far.

         *  As far as the Mysore Derby is concerned, Darius Byramji -- from the trainers with runners on Sunday -- has the best record with five winners. Darius is still one short of the tally of his father who, in turn, is one shy of A.B. David's Magnificent Seven. It is nearly three years since Darius sent out a Classic winner.

        *  Surprising as it may seem, the great Razeen never sired a Mysore Derby winner and he has no runner this year. He has two more crops to race so he could make good the void. He, however, is the damsire of the last two winners of the race.

        *  Vasant Shinde and Pesi Shroff have ridden five winners each and jointly head the jockeys' table.

        *  How do the three October Derbies stack up when it comes to showcasing future big winners ? Here's the answer:-

           Deccan Derby - Four winners of the Invitation Cup and four of the Indian Derby.

           Pune Derby    -  Three winners of the Invitation Cup, three of the Indian Derby and two of the Indian Triple Crown.

           Mysore Derby -  Four winners of the Invitation Cup and two of the Indian Derby.