Indiarace: How did Horse racing interest you?
Prasad Raju: More than the racing aspect, it was horses as animals that interested me and the love a human being could give to horses. My dad used to be an owner before he became an assistant to Mr. Alphie Thompson. I used to accompany my dad to the stables and noticed how close a man could get to horses. Mr. Thompson was a great lover of horses and that was my first lesson about horses.
IR: With your father already doing well, it must have been an easy entry for you.
PR: After my graduation I let my father know of my interest in becoming a trainer but he was never keen on my plans and wanted me to pursue higher studies. I persisted with my intentions and he finally took me as his assistant in his stable. After four years of internship, I got my trainer’s licence in 1993. I started in the monsoon of 1993 with 15 horses that were given by my father.
IR: Was it a struggle initially?
PR: You may call it beginner’s luck, I had a winner on my first day at office and that season went off well. I continued to win around 15 races every season.
IR: When did you have your first major success?
PR: The horse which brought me into limelight was ‘Lady in Lace’, who went to Class I. She won the prestigious Kakatiya Cup and was nominated for the Sprinter’s Cup ant Mumbai where she finished sixth.
IR: How many wins have you had in your Career?
PR: Over 500 wins.
IR: Have you had any Classic Success?
PR: Ruby Queen won the 1000 guineas, the Oaks and finished third in the Invitation Cup in 2008. Orochi won the Nizam’s Gold Cup last year.
IR: Have you faced any hardship in your career?
PR: Not really. I have been very lucky to have very supportive owners, throughout my career. They have a lot of faith in me and have always wanted to see me on top.
IR: Majority of the trainers in Hyderabad have been ex-jockeys, how do you place yourself against them?
PR: It does matter as they have learnt racing sitting on horses and I have learnt my bit by watching the horses. Definitely they will have an edge.
IR: What’s your opinion on the riding talent at Hyderabad?
PR: It’s very poor when compared to other premier racing circuits in India. That’s the reason we find many trainers at this centre opting for riding talent from abroad or other centres in India.
IR: Who’s been the best jockey you have come across?
PR: Undoubtedly Suraj Narredu, He’s given me three championships. I have a great rapport with him. He gives me a good feedback after work and races, which helps me to train my horses better. Suraj is very dedicated in his work. He always does his homework well and discusses with his trainer on how he would prefer to ride his mount in the race.
IR: You seem to do better in Winter than in the Monsoon session.
PR: Basically I don’t like to punish the two year-olds. I let them get into the groove. I manage to win about 50 races with both seasons put together. I have topped the tally in the last three Winter seasons.
IR: How are your chances this year?
PR: As of now, it looks like a tough fight between Netto and me. Netto has been having a great season. It may go to the wire.
IR: How happy are your owners?
PR: Owners put in big money in buying horses. For me, my owner’s interest is supreme. I make sure that my horses earn their corn bill through stake money and that the owners are not taxed.
IR: Few of the good horses you’ve trained.
PR: Lady in Lace, Artistic Tribute, Turf Raider, Royal Ruby, Touch of Class, Ruby Queen, Orochi and Blast in Class. All of them went to top of class I.