• 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 02 Oct 2014
Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)

The riches of Deccan have been plundered by raiders throughout its history. Malakpet, too, has not been able to hold at bay the raiders who come for the goodies from Pune, Bangalore and, in the past, Chennai. This year, Godspeed descended from the northwest and took away the D.B.A. Hyderabad Fillies' Championship Stakes, Gr.3.Then, Bold Majesty's foray from the south resulted in the MAM camp annexing the D.B.A. Colts' Championship Stakes, Gr.3. As we come to 'big 'un' on Sunday, the locals have  reasons to be optimistic.

There are a dozen horses left-in equally divided between the local brigade and the invaders. There are two 'decoys' -- Holy Empire (Rebuttal Poor Old Eliza) and Prize Finder  (Multidimensional - Pricewise) -- in invading party and one can't be certain that they will actually start. Holy Empire is yet to race -- he was withdrawn the only time he had accepted to run in Bangalore -- and apart from gate practice a fortnight ago hasn't been sighted on the track. No horse has won a Classic on his first start in India so he has only a theoretical chance. Bred-in-the-purple Prize Finder ran in both the Classics for which geldings were eligible without finishing in the frame. With his bloodlines, the big stables should have been falling over themselves to secure him. That he was passed over suggests that he was found wanting physically. Neither of the two is as yet rated and that brings down the average rating of the invaders to 46.5; without them, it is 69.5. The average rating of the home team is 67.5. The forces are evenly matched.

During the Bangalore Summer season, Bold Majesty (Multidimensional - Fond Fantasy) had appeared to be more of a handicapper than a genuine Classic aspirant. Last approaching the final bend in the DBA Hyderabad Colts' Trial Stakes, Gr.3, he came with a spectacular stretch run to put paid to Silver Phantom's hopes and was going away at the finish. He is the only one in the field who has won beyond a mile -- he has a win over 1800 m. at Bangalore -- and should relish the additional 200 m. He is bred on the Multidimensional-Razeen cross which seems destined to be prominent in our Classics. His dam won four Classics including the Bangalore Oaks, Gr.2 and was beaten narrowly close home by stablemate Glorious Colours in Kingfisher Derby Bangalore, Gr.1 which was run in slushy conditions. He ought to start a clear favourite and it will be up to him to justify the tag. He is the highest rated contender

You cannot have a Malakpet Classic without a Padmanabhan runner and the veteran handler comes with Feliciana (Ace - Perpetuate) who was a good late third behind Godspeed and Culebra in the DBA Hyderabad Fillies' Championship Stakes, Gr.3. By and large, the progeny of Ace has been found short of puff at distances beyond a mile. Then again, one cannot overlook the fact that the only Classic winner of the son of Danehill at 2400 m. -- Isn't She Special -- was sent out by Padmanabhan. Isn't She Special had a stout damline and so does Feliciana for she is from the same family as McDwell Indian Derby, Gr.1 winner Starfire Girl. Their family -- Marchetta -- is a taproot renowned for stamina. Still, it must be 50-50 whether Feliciana will get the trip. Ace and Multidimensional are both sons of Danehill but if the balance tilts in favour of the Usha Stud stallion, Feliciana has Padmanabhan's Classic touch going her way. The filly, though, needs to find about four lengths.

Needing to find a lot more is Aboline's three-parts brother Spreadeagle (Burden of Proof - Super Fan). Aboline should have won Bangalore Colts' Trial Stakes, Gr.1 -- he was surprised by Sprint Star -- and was lucky to hold on by a short-head in Kingfisher Derby Bangalore, Gr.1 from the fast finishing Jacqueline. By winning the Maj. P.K. Mehra Memorial Super Mile, Gr.1 later, Aboline showed what his best distance was. Spreadeagle, too, appears to be cast in a similar mould. What is in his favour, though, is that the fact the horses carrying Dr. Mallya's silks in a Classic are always on their mettle.

If there is a trio of runners venturing forth from Bangalore, the lone marauder from Pune is Top Commander (Rebuttal - Ridawana). Karthik Ganapathy has already sallied out successfully to Mysore with The Myth and had the Mysore 2000 Guineas, Gr.3 not been postponed, we would have known of War Command's fate. Rebuttal is not a stallion one generally associates with stamina but he has sired three top class horses in Dandified, Toroloco and Super Storm who have won at 2000 m. or more. The three of them had stamina coming through their dams and Top Commander has enough of it from Ridawana, a daughter of Daylami (Breeders' Cup Turf, Gr.1). The next dam is by the Irish Derby winner Desert King and belongs to an Aga Khan family that stays well. Top Commander was second at Pune in his last two starts -- one over 2000 m. and the other over 2400 m. So we know that the trip will not be a problem. What we are unsure of is his class.

The best of home talent consists of the grey Silver Phantom (Verglas - Flamands)  trained by Shehzad Abbas who has sent out two winners of the race previously and L.V.R. Deshmukh's pair of fillies, Culebra (Phoenix Tower - Chabada) and Supreme Fairy (Multidimensional - Supreme Princess). 'LVR' is yet to saddle a winner of the Deccan Derby.

Silver Phantom was felled by Bold Majesty in the Colts' and it is difficult  to see him reversing the placings over the extra distance. His sire was a good miler and most of his progeny is best around that distance though some do get longer. Like the Nanoli Stud Pune Derby winner Versaki.  Silver Phantom's dam, a daughter of Sadler's Wells, won over 2400 m. and 2800 m. and comes from a family with plenty of class and stamina. Two of his five winning siblings have also won at 2400 m. and upwards so the gelding can't be ignored. Perhaps, if he is held up in the early stages and produced for a late effort, he may be a different proposition.

Culebra and Supreme Fairy have never been off the board. The former, though, has not won since her debut victory over 1200 m. at the beginning of the year. She did finish second to Be Safe in the Kingfisher Derby Bangalore, Gr.1 in the summer but sometimes runs behind exceptional horses when they they have gone away can be misleading. Phoenix Tower has had winners galore from his first two crops but hardly any with class over a trip. Culebra belongs to the Schiaparelli family -- the No. 1 Classic family in India -- but Chabada's stirps has shown more speed than stamina. In fact, a leading British pedigree analyst once offered to contribute to mitochondrial DNA research for he was convinced that there was a mistake somewhere down the line.

Supreme Fairy ran a tame fourth behind Godspeed, Culebra and Feliciana in the Fillies'. That run is best ignored. The extended trip here suits her on pedigree and there is reason to expect her to deliver a much better show on Thursday.

The other local runners are cannon fodder, there to provide the owners the joy of seeing their colours  in a Derby. They do not belong to the exalted company. Moody is a word that comes to mind when assessing Bold Majesty. If he reproduces his last Malakpet run, he will waltz away with the big prize. If he falters, it is an open race. Normally, horses are given their winding up spurts at their home centres and then travelled. It is noticeable that both the MAM horses -- Bold Majesty and Top Commander -- have been taken earlier to Malakpet and spurted there. How successful will this tactic be ?


Only seven locally trained horses have won the race since Hyderabad had its first winter season in 1979-80. Prior to that horses went to Hyderabad only for the Monsoon Season. During that early period, trainer Madhu Mangalorkar, based at Madras during the winter, sent out four winners in five years including three in successive years, all of them ridden by Karan Singh. His winners were Tenacity, Half A Crown, Makalu and Kitty Bank. Other trainers with a hat-trick to their credit are Jaggy Dhariwal - Chaitanya Ratham (1985), Chaitanya Chakram (1986) and Noble Quest (1987) -- and R.R. Byramji -- Treasure Wind (1989), Delage (1990) and Classic Style (1991).

Thirteen fillies have won the Deccan Derby with In The Spotlight (2011) being the last.

There have been a dozen Fillies'/Colts'-Deccan Derby doubles. Elite Zone, owned by Dr. M.A.M. Ramaswamy, was the last one to bag it in 2004.