• 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 07 Nov 2013
Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)

As Tennyson once said, "The old order changeth, yielding place to the new ......" What seemed improbable has happened. Hazara Stud has wrested the Champion Stud honours which seemed the monopoly of the Poonawalla Farms and to a lesser extent, Usha Stud. For the first time in over two decades, a third stud farm has scrolled its name on the Roll of Honour. It was a thrilling race to the wire and it was neither Poonawallas nor Usha that Hazara Stud had to overcome but the Chettinad/Sholavaram combine. The final winning margin was just nine points and that is equivalent of the shortest of short-heads. The achievement is indeed welcome and fully merited. 

The top five standings are shown below in a table that is an amalgam of two tables published by the Stud Book Authority of India] so as to give a better picture. The figures in brackets after the stud farm's name indicate its position in 2011-12:- 

S No.


Stakes Earned

Graded Race Points

Other Races Points

Total Points

1.  Hazara (4) 


Rs. 14.74 crores




2.  Chettinad/Sholavaram (2)


Rs. 20.31 crores




3.  Usha/Mehra (3)


Rs  15.73 crores




4.  Poonawalla Group (1)


Rs. 14.94 crores




5.  Kunigal (6)


 Rs. 10.88 crores




All other tables -- like Champion Sire, Champion Family and so on -- are decided solely on the basis of stakes earned. For deciding the Champion Stud Farm, a complicated, convoluted and illogical points system is employed. The Turf Authorities of India gave their first Champion Stud Farm award at the Invitation Cup week-end in Bangalore in 1997. The point system has been revised from time to time  and there is nothing wrong with that because every system needs refinement and fine tuning. What is glaringly obvious, though, is that the system in vogue rewards mediocrity. There have some instances in the past when the award has gone to an establishment only on the strength of 'other race points'. This year, the system has worked in bringing to the top a deserving winner so we will leave the inadequacies of the system aside for the time being and applaud the new Champion. 

In the 17 years since 1997, the Champion Stud Farm award has been won a dozen times by the Poonawalla Group and on five occasions by the Usha Stud. Breaking the stranglehold of those two establishments is a wondrous feat.  To have done so with when the other four rivals had a much larger number of starters is the cherry on the icing. 

When the statistics for the third quarter came out, Hazara Stud was a good 130 points behind Chettinad/Sholavaram combine. That's like coming into the straight with the leader a good six lengths in front. It was a difficult task but not impossible because there is only a small meeting at Chennai during the last quarter. Horses bred at Chettinad/Sholavaram race predominantly -- almost exclusively -- in the state of Tamil Nadu and they were able to garner just 40 points in the last quarter while Hazara-breds gathered a whopping 179 points all over India. Still, the outcome was in the balance till Tintinnabulation's victory in the Golconda St. Leger, Gr.2 - worth 20 points – that sealed the issue. It is an irony that victories of Red Baron, Murioi and Supreme Star - all bred at Hazara Stud - in Dr. Ramaswamy's colours, contributed healthily to Hazara Stud's tally. 

Hazara Stud has been around for about two decades. It started off just south of Ambala and then relied principally on stallions based at Tohana. It was only after its other location at Yamuna Nagar was opened and large scale imports were made that it emerged from the shadows and began to look like a real challenger and not just a pretender. Rebuttal's fantastic first crop made everyone look up and take notice. This year, Hazara Stud has proudly scaled the summit. The achievement has to be applauded by doffing all hats. 

When you reach a summit, there is only one way from there - downwards. What defines the achievement is how long you remain at the top and that is Hazara's next challenge. It's obvious assets are its vast acreage and the virgin soil. The soil doesn't remain virgin for ever. Also, much of Hazara's success can be attributed to the 'got-abroads'. Horses like Machiavellianism, Tintinnabulation, An Acquired Taste, Red Baron and Murioi were the main players in its golden year. 'Got-abroads' are a bit like a lottery; you hope for them to come good but cannot bank on it. It has also lost both its stallions - established Rebuttal and the newcomer Dancing Forever - this year and that is a tremendous set-back. For the moment, though, the spotlight shines brightly on Hazara Stud and it is its time to bask in the glory. 

Usha Stud will be uplifted by Multidimensional's splendid start. Even when not the Champion, Usha Stud has always been thereabouts. To be a Champion Stud, a farm needs a rapid firing stallion with solid support from its second string. For Multidimensional alone to help Usha in regaining the crown is a herculean task. There is no Razeen and an aged Steinbeck and China Visit may not quite fulfill the expected role. Even if a new stallion is installed in 2014, his first crop will be born only 2015 and start racing in 2017-18. The burden on Multidimensional for the next five years is enormous. 

The straight sequence of seven consecutive titles ended for Poonawalla Farms and they slipped to the fourth spot. Ups and downs are an integral part of all sports. Poonawalla Farms won 11 black-type races during the year and seven of those were courtesy of their long time standard bearer Placerville. Southern Emperor (3), Native Knight (2) and Palm Springs (2) did much to cushion the fall. Two 'got-abroads' - Klipspringer and Strike The Stars - and Diffident's Arktouros chipped in but the great white hope Ace floundered contributing just one win. The son of Danehill had two sizeable crops numbering about 140 foals so his was just a token contribution. Why and how Ace got trumped will surely be debated by the farm management. That exercise would be academic for the stallion's 2011 and 2012 books have already been substantially trimmed. Arazan's first crop starts racing only in November 2014 so an immediate counter attack to regain the lost crown will have to be launched with depleted forces. The glimmer hope is that Southern Emperor emulates the likes of Smart Chieftan, Mystical, Southern Empire and In The Spotlight. 

Ever since Dr. Vijay Mallya took over the Kunigal Stud from Bangalore Turf Club Ltd. there has been a steady output at a level much higher than the Jerry Can days. The change over was marked by the introduction of Bold Russian, sire of Saddle Up, the Indian horse that has achieved most in international racing. His successor Burden of Proof has been a dependable and consistent stallion though he has not produced a horse of Saddle Up's stature. Kunigal Stud got back into the top five during the period under review. Burden of Proof, getting longer in the tooth, has not had much support from either Tejano or Brave Act and much will depend on how Admiralofthefleet - like Multidimensional and Ace a son of Danehill - fares. Admiralofthefleet has had more than his share of problems.  


The death of Aurangazeb ushered in a period of political uncertainty in India. The East India Company profited most from it. Something similar is happening at the moment in Indian racing which is why the 'got-abroads' are making merry as  the transitional phase in Indian breeding continues. Any one of this year's top five can win the title next year.