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By Mahendra Mallya | 12 Oct 2014 | PUNE

Mr Jaydev M. Mody & trainer M Narredu leading Quasar (Suraj Narredu Up), winner of The Nanoli Stud Pune Derby (Gr.1)

The Nanoli Stud Pune Derby (Gr.) lived up to its high expectations and although the finish was not as suspenseful or closely-fought as one would want to watch, the brilliance that Quasar showed on the track was a sight to behold.  Quasar ran up with the pace and settled nicely soon after taking a flashing jump and then sped ahead at the turn to steal a march on the rest to boot home the ‘early run’ advantage.

The pace was a cracking one. War Command shot into the early lead and had barely gone about setting it up when Quizical zipped past at a hot pace, playing his role to the hilt. Quasar, one of the quickest out, positioned himself along the rails in the third spot, jockey Suraj easing him once they got going. The rest of the field was closely knit together with favourite Maisha staying off the pace at the tail end of the field, a couple of lengths off the bunch.

Quizical shot his bolt just past the half-way stage and War Command took over from there. If Jockey Suraj Narredu had a plan in mind, he played it out with perfection. He moved to second behind War Command and stepped on it at the turn. Quasar was up to the task and responded with a gallant charge to the front and within strides had a safe cushion of about three lengths, with just over a furlong to go.

While most others found it hard to find enough within themselves, Maisha slipped in through the rails and between horses to make her bid midway in the straight. Tatiana too was covering ground but never looked threatening. Quasar had it all sewn up. He kept his stranglehold all the way to the winning post galloping his way into the record books. He clocked a sizzling 2:03:04 bettering Hills And Stars’ 2:03:78 also partnered by Suraj Narredu in the 2011 edition of the Nanoli Stud Pune Derby.

Maisha will live to fight another day. She appeared to have been ridden in exaggerated check. She came through the field but could not make up the leeway that she granted to Quasar. She closed in well in the later stages and ended 1 3/4 L behind to take the runner up slot comfortably. Shivalik Storm had to switch lanes for a clear run and once he wriggled out, he made a forward dash to edge out Tatiana for the third spot. A longer trip may suit him more. Tatiana was handy throughout and gave her all which eventually was not enough even to get the place money.

“This is a memorable moment and one to cherish,” said a delighted Malesh Narredu who tasted his second Derby success as a trainer this year after leading in his star colt Be Safe in the Kingfisher Bangalore Derby (Gr 1). “Pune is home turf to me and I am very emotional about this racecourse. I still recall my humble beginning here as a jockey. In a jiffy all those moments flashes in my mind. I have won the Nanoli Pune Derby seven times and each occasion is a memorable one. Quasar’s win is another high-point in my career as a trainer. I want to thank my owners Mr Jaydev Mody, Mr Tanmay Aghashe and Mr Madhav Patankar for placing their faith in me and supporting me. It is extremely satisfying to win races, particularly the Classics for such sporting owners and I am more than glad that Quasar gave us that immense joy,” said Malesh.

Asked about his inner pre-race feelings on the chances of Quasar, Malesh replied, “Quasar weighed well below the 500 plus kgs that he had shot up to during the Gen Rajendrasinghji Million in August. From that run he had shed nearly 15 kilos and was much fitter today. That in fact was a very good sign. He is big made but ever keen to work on the track. He has been consistent and has never been out of the equation in any of his starts. When you know your horse has the right temperament, its’ easier to plan. Besides, Suraj does his homework thoroughly. He also studies the opposition and translates strategies on the track. I thought he rode a near-perfect race. I also want to thank all my stable staff and my well wishers on this memorable occasion,” concluded Malesh.

The race had additional thrills for the patrons with the generosity of the Sponsors, the Nanoli Stud Farm. The Dhunjibhoy family was in full force at the podium across the Grand Stands to present the trophies as well as the attractive prizes. One lucky punter, Mr AK Gupta from Mumbai bagged the grand prize of the Volkswagon Vento Car for nominating correctly the first three past the post. A young Puneite, Mr Vijay Palaskar missed the Vento narrowly but smiled as he got the Honda Activa as second prize.

Quasar is by Seeking the Dia out of Belle Jour and bred at the Hazara Stud Farm. With this victory trainer Malesh Narredu seems to have a very strong hand in the forthcoming Indian Classics, with Be Safe being his other ace.