• Lady In Lace wins The Deccan Fillies Championship Stakes (GR.3)
  • Prevalent Force wins The Deccan Colts Championship Stakes (Gr.3)
  • Mathaiyus wins The President Of India Gold Cup (Gr.1)
  • Mathaiyus wins the The Indian St. Leger (Gr.1)
LONG WAY FROM HOME
By Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)
Monday 11 Aug 2014
Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)

One of the earliest race callers in Western India was Dr. Sood. He had a favourite phrase - "Long way from home ..." to herald a winner obvious well before the winning post. There were a couple of occasions when the 'long way from home" horse got caught much to the embarrassment of the caller but he was sporting enough to take the brickbats and wipe the egg from his face. Dr. Sood met his Waterloo in the 1991 McDowell Indian Derby when he called Captain Eo as the winner when, in fact, it was Starfire Girl who had won the race. This time, though, it was easy to sympathise with the commentator. Dr. Vijay Mallya had quite a few runners in the race and what distinguished them were the different patterned caps which were also in the owners colours. Imagine a caller's plight as he has to differentiate correctly between a red-and-white hooped cap from a white-and-red quartered cap! Dr. Sood was to lose the mike shortly but he deserves gratitude of commentators of today. The rule to introduce different whole coloured caps when an owner had more than one runner was the direct consequence of the Captain Eo episode. 

We are now entering the final quarter of the racing year 2013-14 and statistical tables which proclaim the year's breeding honours have begun to take a firm shape. There are still three months of racing to go and every racing enthusiast knows a lot can happen down a long straight. However, it is absolutely safe to declare Razeen as the Champion Maternal Grandsire - long way from home. The former Usha Stud stallion leads his nearest rival - who else but Placerville with whom he enjoyed many a skirmish - by over Rs.8 crores! It will be Razeen's sixth title in eight years, Placerville having headed him in 2008-09 and 2011-12. 

The Champion Maternal Grandsire table does not have the same cache as the Champion Sire and Champion Stud Farm tables. These two tables evoke greater interest and anticipation. The Third Quarter tables for the current year show clear leaders who should go on to win the honours unless they have catastrophic last quarters. 

Expectedly, Usha Stud's Danehill horse Multidimensional tops the Champion Sire table. He has had a phenomenal year, especially with his first crop and he has a healthy cushion of Rs. 1.2 crores over Chettinad Stud's Always A Rainbow. The latter plunders his earnings almost exclusively in the state of Tamil Nadu and as there is only a small monsoon meeting at Guindy during the last quarter (presumably it is still being held), Multidimensional ought to hold on to his lead. The stallion who is third in the list is Kunigal Stud's Burden of Proof but he is over Rs. 5 crore adrift of the leader whom he has no realistic chance of catching. 

Usha Stud enjoys a break of nearly 100 points over Chettinad Stud and has 170 points more than Hazara Stud. Three years ago, the title seemed to be Usha Stud's for the taking but a late onslaught from Poonawalla Farms saw a breathtaking finish and the Theur nursery prevailed by a mere 10 points. In the heyday of Poonawalla-Usha dog-fights, the three monsoon Derbies played a significant role in deciding the Championship. An aspiring farm had to win two of three end-of-the season Derbies. That year, Usha Stud did win the Pune Derby with Hills And Stars but the Poonawalla Farms struck back with In The Spotlight winning at Hyderabad and Field Marshall coming good at Mysore. So it is never prudent to start counting the chickens too early. 

There are still a couple of months to go for the Derbies and it is only after the lead-up races are run that Derby pictures will become clearer. Chettinad Stud will have no worthwhile contender in these races and it remains to be seen if Hazara Stud, the reigning Champion Stud, can bridge the substantial 170 point gap. Be Safe may already have  been wrapped up in cotton wool and moth balls for the wet weather months but the Poonawalla Breeders' Multi-Million, Gr.1 winner Shivalik Storm ought to be coming out in Pune. He is working satisfactorily. 

Last year, the Poonawalla Farms ceded the honours after having run up a splendid streak of seven consecutive Championships. This year, the former Champions find themselves in the unfamiliar fifth spot, some way off the pace. The death of Placerville, aging of Alnasr Alwasheek, Diffident's move to Yeravada Stud and most importantly the failure of Ace to come up to expectations have all contributed in varying degrees. Make no mistake. In the Indian environment, the role that a stallion plays is crucial. 

Three of the top four stallions - Always A Rainbow, Decado and Foyer - in the Juvenile Sires table are Chettinad based. The odd one out is Manjri's Phoenix Tower who is about Rs. 1.05 crores in arrears of the topper. Then comes Win Legend (Dashmesh Stud) who has to make up Rs. 1.53 crores. The Chettinad stallions won't be adding very substantially to their kitties and the others have a lot of ground to cover. However, if anyone of them were to capture two of the Derbies in October, it will certainly make the finish interesting. 

The table which will decide the Champion Freshman Sire promises to be the one which will be most keenly contested. As of now, Win Legend heads the table with a slender lead of just seven lakh rupees over Hazara Stud's Rahy horse Dancing Forever. Dancing Forever owes his handy position almost entirely to Shivalik Storm for he is short on winners. Sunday Silence's Japanese-born son Win Legend has had plenty of winners but none with real quality. The surprise packet has been Mukteshwar Stud's Storm Cat Top Class who sits in third place (ahead of Chevalier and Roi Maudit) though he has just about half the foals compared to Win Legend, Dancing Forever and Chevalier. Mukteshwar Stud recently moved to a new location and the effect of virgin soil is often very telling. 

This quarter has plenty of high value races for 3YOs and a strong showing by one of the leading five Freshman Sires can have dramatic consequences on the final rankings. 

PAST THE POST 

Multidimensional's second crop has been found wanting so far, if only in comparison to what his first crop has achieved. That second crop and the stallion's long term impact will looked at more closely in the next article which follows shortly.