Diabolical (Colm O Donoghue up) winner of the McDowell Indian Derby (Gr.1)
It was back in October last year when racegoers were let down by B. Prakash ridden Ruben Star in the Pune Derby. But neither his owner Dr M. A. M.
Ramaswamy nor trainer S.Ganapathy sulked because the horse to pull the plug on the favourite was wearing the same colours as the loser only the cap was different. The winner was Secret Memory and C. Rajendra was in the saddle.
The following month Real Excellence with Prakash in the seat was, as usual, the favourite to win the Bangalore 1000 Guineas but was shocked by the stable's second hope Star Luminary, who was steered by Irishman Colm O'Donoghue.
Ramaswamy and Ganapathy once again rejoiced. The horse that had done the trick was their own albeit in the second colours.
Cut to Mahalaxmi where one saw Haunting Memories ridden by Prakash being upstaged by stablemate Guest Connections in the Indian 1000 Guineas. The man in action on the winner was none other than Rajendra. This time too the owner-trainer duo did not lose any sleep.
So what if the favourite had not won, the record books would still show that the Indian classic was won by them.
On Republic Day the scene shifted to the Bangalore Derby where Secret Memory with first retainer Prakash to guide his fortunes was the favourite. Visiting rider O'Donoghue got the responsibility of piloting Star Luminary. The venue had changed but the script remained the same. Secret Memory failed to connect but Star Luminary kept the racing baron's flag flying high.
There were no surprises as far as Ramaswamy and Ganapathy were concerned.
Finally came the turn of the McDowell Indian Derby last Sunday. Southern Empire, who had ruled with an iron hand since his debut, was the rage among the bettors. Some even thought that the bookies were being generous by offering 10 to 3 on for the joint property of Ramaswamy and Zavaray Poonawalla. Despite everything that had happened in the months gone by, racegoers steadfastly believed that Southern Empire was invincible.
If ever there was somebody who had written these scripts, he certainly does not have a heart for Indian horse-racing. For what was being considered as an equine splendour by all and sundry (barring of course those few who thought that Southern Empire is great only because the 2002 crop was inferior) was humiliated in the mother of all battles fought on the racetrack.
Diabolical, racing in the same colours as Southern Empire but ridden by somebody with a destiny different than B. Prakash, humbled the darling of thousands of racegoers in the McDowell Indian Derby. People wanted to know, after the race of course, why Prakash had kept Southern Empire so far behind the front running Diabolical during the course of the race.
There were many other such questions which remained unanswered but it is to the credit of the Manjri Stud bred Diabolical (Major Impact-Double Quick) that he conquered a horse considered to be unbeatable within a week of winning the Hyderabad Derby.
The anguish of the racegoers at the loss of Southern Empire can be judged from the fact that Ramaswamy was at the receiving end of their ire when he stepped on to the stage to receive the grand prize.
Life nonetheless has finally come a full circle for Prakash as far as his Derby rides are concerned. He has lost yet another Derby when riding Bold Faith in Delhi. Celtic Princess, the eventual winner, incidentally, wore the same colours as Bold Faith.
Coming back to racing at Mahalaxmi, there was more gloom on both sides of the Derby for the punters. Only Alvida and Sea Storm were the clear favourites to oblige. Trainer Vinayak saddled Alvida (Black Cash - Indulgence) responded gallantly to the urgings of Malesh Narredu and got up just in time to collar Sterne Royal, who threatened to runaway with the race. Chinese Whispers lost all her chances by whipping around at the start.
Sea Storm (Diffident - Livardi) continued his good form and the C.
D. Katrak trained candidate achieved a hat-trick this season but not before a hard struggle with Morpheus in the straight. Earlier Nosher Cama trained Democraticus (Royal Kingdom - Mea Culpa) registered an encore in the hands of Malesh. He won narrowly from Powerthrust, who put in his best performance in recent times, and Flashing Star. Malesh rode a fantastic race for trainer Asad Siddiqui astride Samarkhand (Greensmith - Anthalia).
Malesh's brilliant finishing efforts snatched the race from right under the nose of the favourite Portrush.
The late flourish of Suraj Narredu ridden and Shiraz Sunderji nurtured Alaskan Zone (Young Senor - Shooting Mercury) put paid to the hopes of favourite Here Comes The Don in the shadow of the post. Sunny Chinoy and Narendra Lagad both made up for that loss when Wow Factor (Alnasr Alwasheek - Hopesville) proved that his last earlier success was no flash-in-the-pan by winning in similar fashion over Royal Panache and Saregama.
Shah trained Peoria (Tirol - Canadian Fame) with T. S. Jodha in charge also achieved an encore after the fancied horses failed to grace the finish. Altaf Hussain sent out a similar shocker in Gold Biscuit (Don't Forget Me - Arctic Eyes) who was ridden by I. Shaikh.