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By Maj. Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.) | 11 Oct 2012 | PUNE


Hazara Stud has been in existence for about two decades now but it is in recent years that it has come into the limelight. It began its operation near Ambala but it has been after the opening of its second location at Belgarh, substantial imports and the instant success enjoyed by its first stallion Rebuttal that rapid progress has been made. The Belgarh farm, established on virgin land in the Shivalik foothills in District Yamunanagar, is an ideal place to raise horses. 

There are ten runners still holding the entries for Sunday's Nanoli Stud Pune Derby, Gr.1 and though there may be a couple of drop-outs at the acceptance stage, four Hazara-breds are certain to line-up and three of those will probably attract the most betting. Those three are L.V.R. Deshmukh's Tintinnabulation (Intikhab - Tourmalet),  Mallesh Narredu's Shivalik Hero (Rebuttal - Mullagh) and An Acquired Taste (Strong Contender - G Waiting On O) who will be saddled by Altamash Ahmed. The fourth Hazara-bred will be Supreme Minstrel, trained by Karthik Ganapathy, who will most likely make the pace for Shivalik Hero. 

Tintinnabulation is the highest rated runner in the field at 93. The surprising part is that the son of Intikhab has earned it without any black-type to his credit. In fact, the only graded race that he has run in so far is the Kingfisher Derby Bangalore, Gr.1 where he finished fifth. Many knowledgeable pundits gave Deshmukh's ward a good chance to win that race which was run in slushy conditions. His stablemate Machiavellianism was fourth in that race but improved significantly in Hyderabad on better going. Tintinnabulation has won twice during the current Hyderabad season, hacking Nasheeta and Golden Rule (third to Toroloco in The Bangalore Derby, Gr.1 in January) on his last start over 1800 m. Nasheeta has franked that form subsequently by winning the. Melbourne Racing Club Trophy. Two of Tintinnabulation's four wins so far have been over 1800 m. and the additional 200 m. should cause him no problems. He is inbred to Roberto and comes from a weak stirps of the excellent Pearl Maiden family.  

Shivalik Hero went down by three-parts of a length to Machiavellianism in the Bangalore Colts' Championship Stakes, Gr.1 and finished in the ruck in Borsalino's Kingfisher Derby Bangalore, Gr.1. Shivalik Hero was purchased by Dr.M.A.M. Ramaswamy before his only run during the current Pune season. That was the General Rajendrasinghji Million which he won stylishly over 1800 m., giving the consistent Blue Ace 5 kgs and a two and a half length beating. Dr. Ramaswamy has left Shivalik Hero with Mallesh Narredu. A change of stables at a crucial conjecture in the campaign can have adverse effects. His style of running suggests that Shivalik Hero ought to get 2000 m. 

A horse who has shifted stables recently is An Acquired Taste. He is now sheltered in trainer Altamash Ahmed's stables having earlier been with Mallesh Narredu. An Acquired Taste got rave notices when he pulverised the Bangalore Summer Million, Gr.3 field at the end of July in Bangalore. Though he has had a mock race, he has not raced since then. The change of stable and running straight in a Gr.1 contest after an absence of 75 days are two handicaps the gelding will have to overcome. Besides, the field that he vanquished last time out was none too formidable. Pedigree-wise, An Acquired Taste is only moderate. His During half-brother was sold for only $ 5,500 at Ocala Sale shortly before his dam was purchased. His sire Strong Contender stood for just $ 2,500 during the last covering season at Stonewall Farms in Florida and the median price of his 40 yearlings sold so far is only $ 4,850. Like Tintinnabulation, he is inbred to Roberto and is expected to get the Derby trip. 

If Bezan Chenoy had fielded the filly Neona on Sunday, she would have had a horde of supporters. The daughter Ace has won her both starts, the prestigious F.D.Wadia Trophy, Gr.2 and S.A. Poonawalla Multi-Million, Gr.2, during the current season. However, it is said that the trainer holds Neona in high esteem and wants to keep her fresh for the winter campaign in Mumbai. Instead, Bezan Chenoy will saddle Commander (Noverre - Momentarily) who was a close and fast closing second to Neona in the Multi-Million with Blue Ace a distant third, If that run of Blue Ace is accepted prima facie, Commander comes out well, close to Shivalik Hero. Incidentally, Commander had been scratched out much earlier and has been reinstated as a late entry. His unplaced dam had originally been imported by Chettinad Stud and moved to Sohna Stud in 2006. She has produced three ordinary winners so far but is better than that for she comes from a good, running American family. Commander ought to be on the premises and shapes as the one likeliest to upset the Hazara applecart. 

Amazing Desire, the only colt and the fillies Halle and the maiden Razeenaa are out of their depth here. That leaves Angel Crown (Steinbeck - Altimara) and Okavango (Major Impact - Another Time), another final entry, both of whom are trained by Mallesh Narredu. There are no doubts about Angel Crown, a half-brother to Xisca, getting the trip because his last two wins were gained over 2400 m. and 2000 m. Okavango has reeled off a hat-trick of wins, all over a mile, this Pune season and is in cracking form. His dam won the Usha Stud Calcutta Oaks, Gr.3 and that should enable Okavango to travel the extra 400 m. However, both may find that running in a Derby is a bit different from winning in handicap company. Dr. Ramaswamy has been magnimous in leaving Shivalik Hero with Narredu so if he were to win with Angel Crown or Okavango, it will leave him red faced.

The most common practice when horses travel is for them to complete their preparation, including the winding up spurt, at their home centre. Some trainers take their horses well in advance, let them get acclimatised and then start the final preparation. Of course, it will vary from horse to horse. Tintinnabulation has followed an in between path. That and the fact that he is without any black-type goes against him. Change of stables and lack of a recent run are the minus points as far as An Acquired Taste is concerned. Mr. Nirmal Singh of Hazara Stud will be happy if any horse bred at his farm wins. Undoubtedly, his joy will be greater if the winner turns up in the shape of Shivalik Hero. Not only did he own him earlier but he is also by a stallion standing at his farm. 

The weather in Pune over the last week has been erratic with thunder showers late in the evenings and at night. The weather affects the going and that in turn has a bearing on the performance of the horses. The race has been sponsored by Nanoli Stud since 1996. Only the association of McDowell with the Indian Derby is longer as far as a Derby is concerned.



Owner -  Mr. and Mrs. K.N. Dhunjibhoy and Partners (5)

Trainer -   Vinayak (4)

Jockey -  Mallesh Narredu (6)

Sire -   Malvado and Razeen (3 each)

Stud Farm -  Usha Stud (6)

Fastest Time  -  SECRET MEMORY (2006)  2.2.13

Slowest Time  -  AMOROUS KNIGHT (1985) 2.15.9

Biggest Field -   (15) AQUILO (2005)

Smallest Field -  (5)  AMOROUS KNIGHT (1985) and PHENOMENALE (2008) Got-Abroad Winners -  SCENIC ROYALE (1998), PHENOMENALE (2008), VERSAKI (2009) and  OCEAN AND BEYOND (2010)   

R.R. Byramji and S. Padmanabhan are two prominent names missing from the winning trainers' list.