Nicola Brings The Curtain Down
Before our series on Super Dams draws to an end, it would be proper to make a few relevant and pertinent points about the breeding industry.
The Poonawalla Stud Farms is largely responsible for triggering off the renaissance of the Indian breeding industry. They notched up 200 classic winners between 1951 and 1997. Their first was Fitz Call and their 200th Amyntor.
It was their trio of stallions – Riyahi, Malvado and Sovereign Silver, which changed the industry forever. Major P.K. Mehra's Grey Gaston was the other giant on the scene but his era was a little before the magnificent trio of the Poonawallas. Within a space of nine years (1988-1996), six Indian Derby winners emerged from the Poonawalla camp. They were Cordon Bleu (1988), Exhilaration (1989), Desert Warrior (1990), Starfire Girl (1991), Astonish (1992) and Amazing Bay (1996).
If we were to pick the two most amazing winners from that lot, it would have to be Astonish and Cordon Bleu. The former, we have already discussed in this series. That leaves us with the latter (Riyahi-Deep Water Blues). Michael Kinane rode this Rashid Byramji trained roan filly to a stupendous triumph in the Indian Derby of 1988 when the filly was down with fever.
Deep Water Blues herself, was by the seventies stallion Red Indian out of the mare Uma. If there was one mare with whom Red Indian jelled no end, it was Nicola. They paired up to produce some of India's best middle distance runners of the seventies. Nicolette won 11 races, including a host of classics, none more memorable than the Bangalore 1000 Guineas at 5/1 in the strong hands of Jagdish.
Red Chieftain notched up 18 wins, including the South Indian Derby, Deccan Derby and Mysore Derby. But Red Chieftain may be remembered for two other reasons. Buster Parnell rode this MAM giant to shocker of a victory with a crushing impost in a star studded field during a seven-furlong sprint in Bangalore and his narrow defeat at the hands of David Hill's Khublei Khan.
Then there was the Bangalore Derby winner Red Divine who picked up four races before his untimely death at the age of four.
Nicola produced some other great milers, among them; War Path and War Cry were most notable.