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“DOUBT 'LADY’ WILL STAY, I FEEL DERBY WILL GO TO THE GREY” – YS SRINATH
PUNE
By Mahendra Mallya
Wednesday 11 Oct 2017
Jockey YS Srinath

This weekend will be one of festivities with the running of the Kingfisher Ultra Pune Derby (Gr1) and the IGCC sponsored Oktoberfest will ensure the fun and frolic to complement Pune’s biggest racing event. In keeping with the anticipation in store, indiarace.com managed to persuade top-notch jockey YS Srinath, who is blazing in the saddle year after year at any center he chooses to visit, to share his views on the contenders for the Pune Derby 2017. ‘Chickoo’ (as he is fondly nick-named a la another sporting great of our country Virat Kohli), readily agreed to do so. So here is an in-depth analysis from one of the country's leading pros Y.S. Srinath. Prudent emphasis on his opinion is based upon the fact that he has ridden or beaten most in the fray and all of the top aspirants for this Derby in recent past. An astute judgment call on the result would make very interesting reading for every racing enthusiast. Below, in this exclusive interview with indiarace.com, is jockey Srinath’s personal take on the contenders in his own words. Also, it is learnt that Selfie Star suffered an injury and will not take part in the Pune Derby. Well then folks, it’s over to Srinath...

Lady in Lace: “I could be proven very wrong, but I have grave doubts about her staying the Derby  trip (2000m). I partnered her through a highly successful monsoon campaign at Hyderabad where she defeated the Bangalore Derby winner Manifold in the Deccan Fillies’ Championship Stakes (Gr3). I sincerely feel that about a mile is what she is best suited for. Lady in Lace fought on bravely against me and Prevalent Force in the Deccan Derby (Gr1) which I reckon has prompted her late entry in Pune. She lacks early speed which goes against her on a testing track like Pune. She has one big spurt-burst which will have to be utilized very precisely and tactfully by Suraj Narredu.”

Pure Zinc: “I got a good feel of Pure Zinc in a mock race very early on in the season at Pune. He is a serious horse if you ask me. He is still a progressive type, has been raced sparingly, and I feel Pure Zinc has the most scope for improvement. His form-line is also suggestive as he has won the Shapoorji Colts in Mumbai, which again points towards his stout nature and temperament. He stays, has a second wind, and finds another gear when asked by his rider. I was beaten third to him in the S.A.Poonawalla earlier this season, but was the first to congratulate Imran on the track, for a top-notch performance. Pure Zinc is the prime contender in my opinion, and the horse to beat.”

Themis: “This filly summered in Bangalore and in her last start there, she beat me and Bold March over the 10 furlong trip. Subsequently she just got beat in a mile to New England which I rode, and I rate New England very highly. I have no idea who will partner Themis since Sandesh is injured, but she can pose a threat if the running goes in her favour. She, like the rest of us, will have to improve substantially to challenge Pure Zinc though, as she also won the Forbes Fillies on the same day as Pure Zinc over a mile in Bombay, but was an entire second slower.”

Perfect Star: “This horse qualifies as the true joker-in-the-pack for this Derby. I think he has a very realistic chance to win if he is at his best. He won his maiden over a mile very stylishly, and was a pleasing 4th in the Deccan Colts’ which I won partnering Prevalent Force. He has rested well since and if he comes into the Derby feeling his best, he surely has the credentials to take down the purse. I think John has been confirmed to ride Perfect Star and this is a horse that has the class to surprise this whole field.”

Zanara: “I ride Zanara from the Poonawalla Farm to whom I am retained. While the filly has won over the 10-furlong trip in her last start, I feel that she may be out of depth in this company. She seems to be a decent handicapper but will surely find it very tough to upset the applecart of her more illustrious rivals in the Derby. However, I stay optimistic knowing that stranger things have happened in racing. The fact that I don't have a ‘Pune Derby’ on my resume makes me hungry and I am highly motivated to go for the kill. So you never know! Guess I need to look to Riyaasat for inspiration!”

“To sum it up, the Pune Derby is historically won by a horse, who along with a bit of class, has to have the ability to get the trip. This is the first serious Group 1 test for the Western India crop over a 10 furlong trip. More than half the field has never gone the distance and can surely spring a surprise, but from all known form and in the spirit of offering the racing public a perspective from the saddle, I would nominate Pure Zinc as the best credentialed to win, with the other four horses I discussed above, vying to get their number on the board. The running of the race in these Group 1 events is a huge factor more often than not and the result will hinge on a true run derby. I hope that my observations offer some insights for the racing fraternity towards the result of the 'pièce de résistance' of the Pune Season. Good luck to everyone in the stands, and may the best horse win!”