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Classical Act does a Lammatara

By Sharan Kumar | 14 Jul 2002 | BANGALORE

Classical Act (Pesi Shroff up), winner of the Kingfisher Derby Bangalore being led in by trainer J.S.Dhariwal and owner Dr. Vijay Mallya & Mrs Rekha Mallya

Classical Act’s sensational performance turned the Kingfisher Bangalore Derby into a non-contest on Sunday. Taking on a seasoned opposition after making a winning debut three weeks ago, Classical Act overcame the lack of racing experience by a stunning display that catapulted him as the highest rated three-year old in the country. Classical Act became the first Indian horse to win a Derby straightaway after winning a maidens’ race and he thus emulated Lammatara who had won the Epsom Derby likewise.
In the absence of Priceless, the burden of carrying the stable’s hopes rested on Accede but the son of Razeen was not up to it as Classical Act unleashed a terrific run in the homestretch that left everybody in the race flat-footed. Though Dr M A M Ramaswamy and trainer Ganapathy have been sweeping literally almost every other race, the Derby success eluded them. In hindsight, even the presence of Priceless was no guarantee for success. The stable had been confronted with the problem of plenty and incidentally, the second, third, fourth and fifth places belonged to Ganapathy trainees. Classical Act is a full brother to Smart Chieftan who had won this race a few years ago and then went on to emerge as the champion horse of the year, his bag of wins included the coveted Indian Derby and the Indian Turf Invitation Cup. Classical Act will surely emulate his full brother and may even go farther if physical infirmities do not cut short what promises to be an outstanding career.
Trainer Jaggy Dhariwal deserves all the credit for running Classical Act despite a short time gap and lack of racing experience. Many believed that Dr Vijay Mallya who owns Classical Act was rushing his star performer into a big event too soon for comfort. The majority of race goers were skeptical about Classical Act’s success and believed that it could have a harmful effect on the gelding in the long run. But then a champion is a champion under any circumstance and he is not considered one unless he overcomes all the handicaps. It is not that Classical Act did not have physical maturity for he was ready to race in November last but sore shins and other problems delayed his debut considerably. But then if you have a jockey of the caliber of Pesi Shroff in the saddle, half the problems are bound to solve by themselves. There is no better jockey in India than Shroff for the big occasion. Nothing flusters him, not even the fact that he literally found himself in front on Classical Act as the gates opened and the son of Placerville was pulling hard to bolt. He was able to settle Classical Act quickly and then there was not looking back. This one race would have matured Classical Act tremendously for he showed out to be a horse with a sharp mind and did everything his pilot asked him to do.
As the gates banged open for the mile and a quarter trip, Classical Act found himself in front but luckily for Shroff, Snowfields took over the job of setting the pace, enabling him to settle his horse behind the front-runner after the first furlong. The only other time that Shroff had a hiccup was when Zurbaran, with a helpless Malesh Narredu in the saddle, came perilously close to leaning on him as the jockey was left a spectator on his horse, with the saddle having shifted. Shroff wisely held his mount back a bit, giving a breather to Classical Act in the process. Classical Act came into the straight on the bridle and was only waiting for a signal from the pilot to quicken. Shroff waited with Classical Act till Accede showed up on his outside and quickly alerted his mount to change gears. Classical Act instantly picked up momentum and sailed past Snowfields to open up a big lead. Accede faded out without a fight. Superior Force moved up from the rear and picked up all the tiring horses to finish a good second ahead of Fabulous Star. Portman Square, who went into the race, with a setback in training, missing the track for 10 days, ran below potential.
Classical Act is in the same mould as Adler, Elusive Pimpernel and Continual. Interestingly, turf baron Dr M A M Ramaswamy did mention before the race that it might be difficult for anyone to beat Classical Act in the Derby.
The Derby day brought in a big attendance and the turnover at the club operated totalizator pools grossed over Rs 3.5 crores.
Altenburg who had failed to do anything worthwhile after winning the winter Derby as a four-year old, finally came good, winning the 2000 metres Kolkata Cup form bottom-weighted Caloresence and Mayfair. Taipan showed up till the final furlong but ran out of reserves thereafter.
Ganapathy trained Tide of Fortune is a champion sprinter in the making. Despite having to concede as many as six kgs to the talented Mermalade, the daughter of Diffident, Tide of Fortune fought on resolutely to win the Mumbai Cup (Div I). Shroff who failed to drive out Mermalade to victory, however, had success coming his way in the lower division where his forceful riding saw Twin Star edge past Star Illustrious in the shadow of the winning post.
Perfect Venue who came to Bangalore with an imposing record at Delhi, won the 1200 metres Manjiri Stud Plate in taking style from Winelight and Soviet Lake. The son of Steinbeck, Perfect Venue indeed belongs to the highest class. Soviet Lake failed to quicken when it mattered the most and the five-year old mare may soon be confined to the paddocks.
Golden Fortune easily accounted for Trillennium in the Delhi Cup (Div I) to land a quiet touch. In the lower division of the same race, Authentic Power won at the expense of Argento in a close finish. The result could well have been different had C Alford ridden a better race. He failed to keep Argento on a straight course and despite the son of Twist And Turn flashing home with a good burst of speed on the wide outside; Authentic Power had reached the safety of the winning post.