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By Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.) | 23 Jan 2023 |


The Indian Derby was first run on Saturday, January 30, 1943. So far, 80 Indian Derbies have been run.


Month-wise distribution of the race:-

January Februray March April
14 63 2 1

Day-wise distribution of the race:-

Monday Saturday Sunday
1 9 70

Earliest Run Derby January 18, 1952 (Regal Domain)

Latest Run Derby April 12, 2009 (Antonios)

Postponed Derbies

21 Feb 1948. Due to the situation prevailing in the country after the martyrdom of Mahatma Gandhi. (Jeanne d'Arc)

12 Feb 1956. On account of Sanyukta Maharashtra Andolan in Bombay. (Star of Gwalior)

18 Mar 1973. Due to a strike by stable staff. (Mansoor)

21 Feb 1982. On account of a strike by mill workers resulting in firing at Saat Rasta and the subsequent curfew. (Almanac)

28 Feb 1993. Due to a request from the Sponsor

12 Apr 2009. On Account of late start to the season following an equine epidemic which restricted movement of horses countrywide. (Antonios)

28 Mar 2021. Due to Covid 19 restrictions which caused rescheduling of the Mumbai season. (Immortality) 

Rain Affected Derby. 1961 (Alijah)

Derby In Which The Photo Finish Camera Failed. 1963 (Rocklie)
First Derby In Which Weights And Distances Were Decimalised. 1963 (Rocklie)

First Derby From Starting Stalls. 1965 (Rose Royal)

First Sponsored Derby. 1985 (Revelation)

Richest Derby.  2016. Total stakes Rs. 3,72,70,000 (Desert God)

Geldings Not Permitted To Run.
     1.  From 1943 to 1964
     2.  From 1978 to 1991

First Four Chestnuts. 1973. MANSOOR, Bade Miya, Young Stallion and Rock Witness.

First Four Fillies. 2004. PSYCHIC FLAME, Estonia, Sprungli and Allies Serenade.

First Four 'Got-Abroads'. 2015. BE SAFE, Tiger Tops, Quasar and Aquamarine.


In all, 1030 runners have participated in the 80 renewals of the race so far. That makes an average of just under 13 for each race.

Distribution Of Runners. 
By Colour
Bay/Dk. Bay/Brown/Black   714
Chestnuts - 220
Greys -  096

By Sex.
Colts- 572
Rigs- 013
Geldings - 214
Fillies- 231 
'Got-Abroads'.- 100

Largest Field (22). Jeanne d'Arc (1948).

Smallest Field (5). Squanderer (1977) and Royal Tern (1979).

No Fillies In The Field. (4) 1944, 1961, 1979 and 1981.

No Chestnuts In The Field. (4) 1978,  1994, 1997 and 2019. 

Outstation Challengers

The Indian Derby had first outstation challengers in the year 1959 when Scone Stone, Supremo and Artist's Proof participated. Since then they have been coming, barring some breaks, butevery year since 1980. 180 of them have added spice and an extra edge and 21 have  gone back victorious. The year 2020 saw a strong contingent of exactly a dozen raiders descending on Mahalakshmi and it included winners of four winter Derbies and three summer/ monsoon Derbies. War Hammer took away the spoils but the locals did well to prevent any of the others from coming on the board. The best performance by the outstation challengers was seen in the 2019 Derby when Star Superior, Adjudicate and Sir Cecil took the first three places.

Fastest Winner - Be Safe (2015). Time: 2.27.71

Slowest Winner - Martial Law (1952). Time: 2.50

Longest Margin Winner- Manitou (1978). 10 lengths.

Shortest Margin Winners - Jeanne d'Arc (1948), Gold Street (1951), Rose [Six of the winners won by a short-head] de Bahama (1960), Prince Khartoum (1972), Astonish (1992) and Starsky (2002).

Only Maiden Winner-  Pyare Miya (1975)

Only Winner Who Had Finished Last In His Previous Start - Pyare Miya (1975).

Winners Who Subsequently Also Won Abroad  - Astonish (1992) in Hong Kong and Southern Regent (2005) in England.

Youngest Winner- Psychic Flame (2004). 3 years and 231 days old according to her actual date of birth.

Oldest Winner- Star of Gwalior (1956). 4 years and 19 days old according to his actual date of birth.

First Winner To Break The 2.40 Time Barrier- Loyal Manzar (1962).

First Winner To Break The 2.30 Time Barrier- Diabolical (2007).

First Outstation Challenger To Win - Fair Haven (1969).

First To Win On Mahalakshmi Debut - Track Lightning (1981).

First Chestnut To Win - Bucephalus (1947).

First Grey To Win - Rough Deal (1955).

First Gelding To Win - Thunder Storm (1970).

First Rig To Win -  Prince Khartoum (1972).

Winner With The Longest Career - Mansoor (1973). 92 starts. Last race at the age of 15.

Winner With The Shortest Career - Immortality (2021). Raced only five times.

Winner With The Most Career Wins - Royal Tern (1979). 26 wins. 

Winner With The Highest Career Earnings - Desert God (2016). Rs. 8,73,83456 + GBP 3,871.

Most Experienced Winner - Thunder Storm (1970) & Star Supreme (1998) 14 runs before the Derby
Least Experienced Winner - Alijah (1961) and Immortality (2021). Both had raced just four times before the Derby.

Earliest Debut By The Winner - Be Safe (2015).  Won on debut at Pune as a 2YO on 27 October.

Latest Debut By The Winner - Princess Beautiful (1943). Won on debut at Pune as a 3YO on 22 August.

Only Winner In 'All Black' Colours - Cordon Bleu (1988).

Only Winner To Get The Race On Disqualification Of The 'On Course' Winner -  Supervite (1999). 

Unbeaten Winners-  Exhilaration (1989, 6 wins), Elusive Pimpernel(1995, 8 wins), Indictment (1997, 7 wins) and War Hammer (2020, 8 wins). Exhilaration andz War Hammer retired unbeaten. The other two were beaten subsequently. 

Start To Finish Winners - Balam (1948), Prince Pradeep (1964), Royal Tern (1979), Chaitanya Chakram (1987), Noble Eagle (2003) and Hall of Famer (2017). (A horse who led from Hornby Vellard Corner to the Winning Post is considered a start to finish winner). 

Winners Who Sired Derby Winners - Star of Gwalior (sire of Loyal Manzar) and Prince Pradeep (sire of Bright Hanovar).

Winners Who Are Maternal Grandsires of Derby Winners- Red Rufus (Desert Warrior) and Elusive Pimpernel (Hall of Famer).

Winners Who Survived Objections - Topmost (1974) and Psychic Flame (2004).

Longest Gap Between Previous Start And Derby - Exhilaration (1989). 48 days.

Shortest Gap Between Previous Start And Derby - 6 days. Odds On (1945),Chakori (1946), Bucephalus (1947), Rose de Bahama (1960), Rose Royal (1965), Fair Haven (1969), Diabolical (2007) and War Hammer (2020). Both Diabolical and War Hammer had run at  other centres and travelled to Mumbai; other winners were Mahalakshmi-based.

Derby Winners Who Never Won After The Derby - Bucephalus, Martial Law, Regal Domain, Commoner, Fair Wood, Loyal Manzar, Rose Royal, Pyare Miya, Nelston, Enterprising, Cordon Bleu, Starfire Girl, Littleover and Supervite, Starsky, Psychic Flame, Velvet Rope, Hotstepper, Jacqueline, Hall of Famer, Rochester, War Hammer and Immortality. 23 in all.  

Derby Winners Who Went Abroad - Princess Beautiful, Bucephalus, Balam, Astonish, Smart Chieftan, Southern Regent, Antonios, Jacqueline, In The Spotlight and Desert God. 10 in all. Princess Beautiful, Bucephalus, Southern Regent and Antonios did not return.

Longest Odds On The Books-  Noble Eagle (2003), 50/1.

No Odds Offered On The Books - Royal Tern (1979). Bookmakers were in operation but offered no odds on the winner.

Highest Dividend On Tote - Noble Eagle (2003). Rs. 899. 

Leading Owners (Based on Colours Carried by the Winner)

1.  Dr M.A.M. Ramaswamy  (7)  Amazing Bay (1996), Star Supreme (1998), Smart Chieftan (2000), Starsky (2002),
Southern  Regent (2005), Diabolical (2007) and Be Safe (2015)

2. Maharajadhiraj of Jammu & Kashmir (4) Odds On (1945), Regal Domain (1953), Rough Deal (1955) and Fair Wood[NSB] (1959) 

3. The Scindias of Gwalior (4) Deepak (1944), Star of Gwalior (1955), Alijah (1961) and Rose Royal (1965)

4. Mr Ranjit V Bhat (4) Commanche (1976), Squanderer (1977), Manitou (1978) and Mohawk (1980)

5. Dr Vijay Mallya (4) Cordon Bleu (1988), Starfire Girl (1991), Littleover (1994) and Supervite (1999)

Leading Owners (Including Part Ownership)
1. Dr M.A.M. Ramaswamy  (8) Seven above and Exhilaration (1989)

2. Ms. Ameeta Mehra (5) Nelston (1983), Indictment (1997), Psychic Flame (2004), Alaindair (2014) and Immortality (2021)

3. Dr Vijay Mallya  (5) Four above and Storm Again (2001)

4. Maj. P.K. Mehra (4) Nelston (1983), Enterprising (1984), Revelation (1985) and Indictment (1997)

5. Dr Cyrus S. Poonawalla (4) Exhilaration (1989), Desert Warrior (1990), Starfire Girl (1991) and Storm Again (2001)

6. Mr Deepak Khaitan (4) Astonish (1992), Astronomic (1983), Elusive Pimpernel (1995) and Psychic Flame (2004)

7. Maharajadhiraj of Jammu & Kashmir (4) As above

8. Mr. Ranjit V Bhat  (4) As above
Most Consecutive Wins In The Same Colours.  Mr. Ranjit V Bhat's hat-trick of Commanche (1976), Squanderer (1977) and Manitou (1978).

Youngest Owner.  Ms. Ameeta Mehra, Nelston (1983)

Oldest Owner.  Dr M.A.M. Ramaswamy, Be Safe (2015)


These statistics have been computed manually from handwritten records that have been maintained over the years. While due care has been taken to ensure the correctness, there is scope for inadvertent errors. Errors should be corrected and not allowed to be perpetuated. As such, readers are requested to bring to notice any errors or discrepancies they notice in HORSE TALK. They will be individually acknowledged and corrections carried out
To be Continued........