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By Mahendra Mallya | 23 Dec 2012 | MUMBAI

Machiavellianism (P S Chouhan Up), winner of The Nakshatra Indian 2000 Guineas (Gr.1)

The 18 colts and geldings that lined-up for the Nakshatra Indian 2000 Guineas (Gr1) were expected to rough it out among themselves and that there would be a scramble to get the nod at the wire. It was a long time since the markets threw no short-priced favorites either. The suspense was building up as the horses were led into their respective stalls. Machiavellianism stood out, his performance separated the ‘man’ from the ‘boys’. In winning the Nakshatra Indian 2000 Guineas, Machiavellianism provided a rare Double Whammy for his connections who had only last week won the Gitanjali Indian 1000 Guineas with Vijays Pride.

The scramble began soon as they jumped out of the gates. Shivalik Hero started off well but was soon overtaken by Macedonian playing the pace maker’s role. The best seats on the turf were taken by Sumo, Shivalik Hero, Silver Birch, Blue Ace, and Commander and they were all huddled tightly together. Right behind them was Montezuma, with Machiavellianism racing freely on the outside, jockey PS Chouhan looking tactically perfect, poised safely to negotiate any traffic threat should it arise later on. Bizarro, who was a tad slow at the start, had made quick progress to mingle with the tightly packed bunch.

The decibels in the stands soared as the cavalry charge began soon on turning for home. Macedonian weakened as Silver Birch took over, Shivalik Hero was beginning to gallop, while Commander was not finding his best. The ones closing in were Amazing Desire, Montezuma and Franklin. This half-a-dozen was in full flight when jockey PS Chouhan whispered “Gidyap” to Machiavellianism. The Hyderabad challenger trained by LVR Deshmukh produced a devastating turn of foot and blazed away with a terrific surge. The momentum that he picked up from 300 meters, at full throttle, was simply too good for the rest. Machiavellianism had conquered the battle with a furlong still to go, yet Chouhan rode him out all the way (for obvious reasons) and ensured that Machiavellianism’s victory was one of sheer dominance, that too amongst the toughest aspirants on the Indian turf.

It was all over in a flash. Machiavellianism was stretching away from them all. He established a winning lead the moment he passed them and sped away devouring ground at a brisk pace. This was truly a mind-boggling victory, clean as a whistle. The Grand Stand occupants sportingly gave the new champion a standing ovation. This is not new in Mumbai.  

Jockey PS Chouhan had the ‘V’ sign posing for the photographers to capture this moment of triumph when I walked to him with the microphone. “I feel vindicated,” he said. “I had made a terrible mistake at Hyderabad and had immediate apologized to the owners and trainer,” he admitted candidly. “I thank them for overlooking that incident and I can’t be happier now making amends. I was determined to do so and what better platform than the Mumbai race track in an Indian Classic as a payback! My joy has doubled as I sincerely wanted to win this race for them,” he said. On Machiavellianism Chouhan said, “He is in great heart as you saw and he was travelling comfortably throughout the initial stages of the race. When I took the turn, I saw the horses in front and felt they were under pressure. That’s when I knew that we were going to make it. He accelerated tremendously and yes, I didn’t let go until the final few strides (Chuckles). He surely will go further in distance and we will plan his future assignments soon”.

Trainer LVR Desmukh was overwhelmed with joy and excitement. He put me on hold when I went to him for his views saying, “Mallya, please wait, I missed the walk down the aisle last Sunday because you caught up with me. This walk is so significant and I don’t want to miss out on this great tradition. It means a lot to me,” he said and walked away leading Machiavellianism proudly racking-in his moment of glory. I realized my folly too!

He promptly came back to me in the paddock and said, “God has been kind. I have been bestowed with such high successes in such a short span. I had been dreaming about leading in horses in the Indian Classics and this has come true and how! I have been around for a long time now and I also have had many memorable moments in my span as a trainer. I can say that this is the best phase of my career and would like to thank my owners, jockey PS Chouhan, the breeder Mr Nirmal Singh of the Hazara Stud Farm and my staff and all those connected for their overwhelming support and contribution in this success. I thank Machiavellianism too for his great performance”. On the future plans, he said,”W e will sit together and chalk out his next campaign. I had in mind to take him back to Hyderabad, but we would do a rethink on that. Too early to say anything now, but yes, we will soon take a call,” said LVR Deshmukh.

On his views on the possibility of the Indian Derby as his next target, LVR said, “I have great respect for Pesi Shroff’s horses. They have it in them to improve and there is enough time. He is an astute horseman and he will get them to their optimum, I am certainly weary of that fact. It is not going to be easy at all, but I am hoping for the best. Too premature to comment on it,” he added.  

“Full marks to Deshmukh and Chouhan for this stupendous achievement,” said owner Vijay Gupta. We were confident that Machiavellianism would run a good race, but what he did was simply brilliant. It is a great feeling and a sense of high achievement winning the Indian Classics. We have a plan or two in mind and I hope this trend continues. At the moment, I am extremely happy.”

The Hazara Stud Farm captured all the top four slots in the judge’s frame. This is an enviable feat and breeder Nirmal Singh was delighted with the result. Speaking to indiarace over the phone, he said, “It’s a great moment of joy for us. I extend my heartfelt congratulations to LVR Deshmukh and his team. They have done a wonderful job. Machiavellianism has been consistent and a classy horse. Deshmukh had conveyed to me right in his early days that he was a promising juvenile. He has sharpened him well and its hard work keeping him going. This is the result of good care and meticulous preparation. It is a great honour too for us as breeders to have our bred horses take the top four placing in an Indian Classic. It is indeed a strong motivating factor for us too. We could not have hoped for a better result,” concluded Mr Nirmal Singh.  

If you take out Machiavellianism from the equation, the rest followed in a heap. Shivalik Hero was firing on all cylinders and ended 3 1/4 lengths away.  An Acquired Taste finished on brilliantly taking the third spot. Although he did not make an impact on the winner, An Acquired Taste finished on well. His third spot conquest was not easy as he had to poke and prod his way through traffic. Manyatta too ran a great race to end close in the frame, which was not exactly expected. Hachiko came from behind to end one off. He too was improving and elevated his position.

The Shroff troika comprising Franklin, Hemisphere and Montezuma ended in that order after Hachiko. They clearly were short on experience and with some conditioning will surely resurface. For now, this was crucial education. Montezuma is just over two months old in hardcore racing, Hemisphere even less and Franklin not even a month old! They are the ones to keep an eye on for sure.

The best equipped horse had won the Nakshatra Indian 2000 Guineas (Gr1). There was no question about that. Most, including yours truly, had read too much into that loss to Maximus in Hyderabad recently. From a cramped 20/100 at Hyderabad couple of weeks ago, to 20 to 1 in Mumbai! Machiavellianism surely had the last laugh.