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Macchupicchu Surmounts Ultimate Endurance Test

By Mahendra Mallya | 25 Sep 2011 | PUNE

Mr. Berjis Minoo Desai, Mr. Vijay B Shirke & Mr. & Mrs. K N Dhunjibhoy leading Macchupicchu (B Prakash Up), winner of The Mcdowell Signature Indian St.Leger Grade-I

The McDowell Signature Indian St Leger (Grade 1) had only five in the line-up. However, that by no means proved a dampener the race itself lived up to the top billing befitting an Indian Classic and the suspense and thrill that a race of this significance brings about was in full evidence right through the 2800 meter journey. The climax, although a trifle abrupt, was effervescent at just the right moment, rendering the large number of Macchupicchu’s supporters cheering aloud in sheer joy at the finish.

The gruelling journey began at the mouth of the homestretch as Frost Fairy flew out of the gates to dictate the crucial initial pace. Macchupicchu (Emerald Cat- Anaroma) courageously settled in the second, with Ordained One, Berlusconi and Ocean And Beyond following in a single file, each more inclined to get into a rhythm than worrying about how far spaced they ran. Frost Fairy, on her part, ensured a nippy pace and further stepped on the gas entering the back-stretch. There was a hush in the crowd that gasped when Frost Fairy darted ahead to a huge lead measurable in metres than lengths. Neither Macchupicchu nor the others seemed overawed and they set about on their own terms, with Macchupicchu firmly in command right through.

The strategies unfolded when they galloped past the 1000, which was when Macchupicchu started to bridge the gap and caught up with Frost Fairy approaching the final turn. At this same juncture, the others too followed suit and at the curve, they were all bunched together straightening up for the final confrontation.

Macchupicchu shot ahead and stepped up momentum, Jockey B Prakash getting busy in piloting Macchupicchu towards the winning post. Suraj Narredu astride Ocean And Beyond was quick to progress and inched closer to Macchupicchu. Ordained One was fighting hard to remain in contention but was unable to gain on the duo in front. Frost Fairy put up a brave show and even resisted ably before allowing Ordained One to finish ahead. Berlusconi was the odd one out, completely overwhelmed to end too far down the field.

Macchupicchu faced a stern challenge from Ocean And Beyond soon on straightening up and the decibels in the packed Grand Stands soared as Ocean And Beyond surged with a strong gallop to join Macchupicchu. Both jockeys B Prakash and Suraj Narredu were riding out their mounts with vigour. In their forceful pushing and adept use of the whalebone, each was exhibiting well-mastered art of riding. Both were in superb sync with their horses as Macchupicchu and Ocean And Beyond were in full flight in their desperate bid to reach the winning post.

Macchupicchu clearly lasted out like a true champion stayer. His stamina was abundant, his acceleration, especially in the final stages was awe-inspiring. Prakash had handled him perfectly and the Champion colt had that bit extra in the reserve to pull away from the gallant challenger in the final fifty. That made all the difference. Macchupicchu not only emerged victorious, but also shattered the course record, clocking 2:57.30 wiping off 1.7 seconds off the existing fastest timing of 2:58.7 that stood in the name of the classy Capricorn since 1987.

“This is another big moment for us” said Mr Bergis Desai, joint owner of Macchupicchu in partnership with Mr Vijay Shirke and KN Dhunjibhoy. “I was confident that he was in great nick after his victory in the Idar Trophy. He had shown he was getting to his best. Shroff tuned him to perfection and Prakash was in his elements today. I got a little anxious when Ocean And Beyond appeared to have headed him, thankfully the battle did not go the distance else I could have ended up with a sore throat. I am ecstatic,” concluded Mr Desai gleefully.

“I knew it was not going to be easy, the distance is tricky and a lot depends on how the race is run. Macchupicchu has been consistent and has always shown good improvement. He peaked at the right time. He has raced well in the earlier Indian Classics as well. Prakash rode a well-judged race, it may look easy in the end, but I know everything had to fall in place. Prakash really did well,” said trainer Pesi Shroff.

The elegant trophy valued at about Rs 100,000/- was presented by Mr YD Acidwalla representing the McDowell & Co Ltd. Macchupicchu earned his owners a winner’s purse of a little over Rs Three Million.

It was a great day at the Pune racecourse. The sponsor’s day was marked by two world renowned artists in Salil Bhatt a music maestro rendering lilting music with his ‘Satvik Veena’ recital. Salil is the creator of the Satvik Veena which he says is a ‘refined blend’ of the guitar and the Veena. He has the distinction of being the only musician to perform inside the Parliament of Germany. He was ably supported on the percussion instrument – the ‘tabla’ by Pritviraj Mishra.

Sudarsan Pattnaik showcased his vast talent, creating awesome images with sand using his fingers and bringing alive images in seconds. Sudarsan has designed hundreds of sand sculptures and has the record of sculpting the world’s tallest Santa Claus. He was awarded a gold medal at Moscow and performed sand animation at the opening ceremony of the Common Wealth Games. At the Pune racecourse, he worked wonders with sand, creating pictures of jockeys atop galloping horses and also the logos of RWITC & Mc Dowell all with skilful movements of his fingers and in quick time.

A certain Mr Reshamwalla, a face in the crowd, won the bumper prize of a Hyundai I-10 car for correctly nominating the first four placing of the McDowell Signature Indian St Leger. There were 15 correct entries in all and the lucky draw picked the grand prize winner. “I came all the way from Mumbai to witness this great race and this prize is something totally unexpected. I am too happy and I thank the Sponsors – McDowells and the RWITC for their grand gesture which I shall cherish all my life,” said Mr Reshamwalla.

In a thoughtful gesture, Mr Vivek Jain, Chairman RWITC honoured the illustrious guests and also Mr Acidwalla with a memento each on behalf of the Club. All in all it was a hugely enjoyable day, well organized by the RWITC and the Indian St Leger was heartily welcomed back to its home-course at Pune.