Wednesday, Jul 16, 2003
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Racing : Horse
By H.S. Manjunath
GLORIOUS FINISH: Glorious Colours (C. Rajendra up), winner of the Kingfisher Derby in Bangalore last Sunday, being led in by (from left) M.A.M.R. Muthiah, its trainer S. Ganapathy, the owner Dr. M.A.M.Ramaswamy and breeder Ameeta Mehra.
A dramatic change in the weather an hour before the biggest race of the season brought about an equally significant change to the complexion of the track and the race. The supreme equine athlete Glorious Colours handled the exacting underfoot conditions better than her more illustrious stable companion, Fond Fantasy, and nailed her in the shadow of the winning post to ensure a sensational Classic quinella for Dr. M.A.M. Ramaswamy and his trainer Ganapathy.
To put down the unexpected twist in the Derby tale to the vagaries of weather and the rain-pounded track is to dilute the true grit Glorious Colours displayed under a relentlessly hard drive by Western India-based Rajendra.
The state of the going played as much on the minds as it did under the hooves. Those who handled this demanding piece of turf better on the day decidedly had a bigger say at the finish.
With his ears resignedly tucked back and the tail almost between his legs, Grosvenor Square was evidently frustrated by his surrounds. From the paddock to the post that dislike could only have grown.
As David Badel confirmed after the ride, Grosvenor Square didn't like what he was treading on one little bit. It showed. The bell had gone on the favourite half way up the straight. This should not be held against the hitherto unbeaten Local Talent colt. In sunnier climes, he still can rattle his stage lines.
Careful track watchers could not have missed Glorious Colours' zestful work. Her two runs this season may not have revealed much of her inherent talent but it was always on the cards that she was much more capable than her track records might have suggested.
Out of a reputed sprinting mare, Time And Place, perhaps the stamina factor carried a question mark. But she came up with the right answers on the track.
Top Executive led for half the trip and disappeared. Nearly four furlongs out, Lancaster who followed Top Executive shot to the front. The field had something hot to chase.
Shroff and Lancaster turned in with a good cushion. It was here that Fond Fantasy threw herself at the leader. A furlong and a half out the winner seemed to be one of the fighting two.
Then came this theatrical turn. The gold rush began and ended in the last 50 metres. Rajendra was driving Glorious Colours for all he was worth and Brown Sugar was an emerging threat. With Lancaster and Fond Fantasy going at each other's throat, an inviting gap opened up for Glorious Colours.
The moment Rajendra twigged that passage, he knew he had met with his biggest success down South. With this one classic stroke, Rajendra has wiped clean memories of an uninspiring winning record in Bangalore.
Brown Sugar flashed home to be an impressive third. Considering the fact that Brown Sugar had to travel wide and could have done with a lot more vigour in crunch time, it is fair to say the Serious Spender gelding should have been lot closer to the first two.
As is to be expected, Shroff's tactics of taking the field on so early in the race triggered a debate. Since racing is a matter of opinion, there are always two sides to any argument. But old timers point out that it is a difficult decision to make in that split second when you have to go one way or another.
The well-chiselled Fond Fantasy was far from disgraced in her narrow defeat. Her best could well be seen in winter. Smart Supreme, whose full brother Star Supreme won a double header Bangalore Derby and Indian Derby, was weighed down by his tantrums at the gate. He deserves to be looked at from a totally different perspective next time.
Glorious Colours brought Dr. Ramaswamy his 377th Classic and his eighth Bangalore summer derby triumph.
A huge attendance and a record betting turnover (Nearly Rs.4 crore) added to the Derby Day brouhaha.
The odds-on King of Hearts was squarely beaten by the vastly improved Royal Affinity. Yet again Wishbone found one better. This time it was Second Jewel who found enough room on the rails to peg back Wishbone close home. Harish, who is just back from a riding stint in South Africa, had the daring to take that narrow gap. The well backed Super Model performed below expectations.
Poirot at last lived up to his promise in a race where Grunstein put up a brave show. Star Dot Star, who warmed up late, is ready to strike in less taxing company.
Young Christopher did a tidy job on Attorney, who staved off a late swoop by Sky Raider. Christopher is riding his share of winners but he is yet to attain the level of smoothness that is required to take him up the seasoned fold.
Spark of Glory went one better on his previous run to record a comfortable victory over the late finishing Chapmans Peak who was clearly in need of this run. The well-touted Calderoni had nothing much to offer.
Kissinger failed to get up to One Aim but this Glory of Dancer gelding should get a lot stronger next time. Tal has shown the first positive sign that she has it in her to trouble the best when she runs among equals.
The well-bred Betfair made a winning start to her Bangalore campaign after being relocated from Mumbai. She has tremendous scope for improvement. Speed Mistress short-headed the front running Its So Wonderful. City of Angels was nowhere near the action rounding the turn. But in the straight she covered acres of ground to finish third.
Summer Storm raised a fluent gallop to come out trumps at a lucrative price. Summer Storm swept clean the 30 odd jackpot survivors who were eyeing a pot of Rs.13 lakhs. That went unclaimed to show how topsy-turvy the results were on the Derby Day.
Cape Martin showed great relish for the step in distance to seven furlongs, having suffered a few losses over the conventional sprint. Suraj Narredu's biggest enemy could well be his `whip' for he has often been seen using it with a degree of force that is a notch more than normal. The result is that quite a few of his mounts had gone astray under that kind of treatment.
On this occasion, Kia Ora showed clear dissent when the whip was cracked on her. A more refined form of persuasion would have ensured better results. The well supported Name and Fame was outpaced early but was fast catching up with the rest.
Racing itself was patchy on Saturday, partly because some of the apprentice riders were seen in very poor light. Of the nearly 28 apprentices licensed, only a half a dozen could possibly pass muster. The level of competence is so poor that these jockeys may endanger the lives and limbs of fellow jockeys and horses.
In fact in one particular race there was near mayhem at the start. It is a miracle that nothing untoward happened. It's time the authorities took a more vigilant stand on the licensing these apprentices.
Among the youngsters, Sure Future is on the way up. Among the seasoned lot, Highlevel has showed the most striking improvement. It is remarkable that trainer Hidayat Khan is striking rich with the one good horse in his care.
A splendid readjustment saw Own Vision switch back to winning ways over seven furlongs after being put back from a longer trip.
The return of the JAI members from a 15-day sit in just about coincided with an agreement being struck by the trainers and owners with the syces. Thus the Derby weekend was rendered trouble free.
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