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DECCAN DERBY, Gr.1
By Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)
Saturday 30 Sep 2017
Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)

This year will be 44th renewal of the Deccan Derby, Gr.1 and we have a race in prospect in which the winners of the both the Fillies' race and the Colts' race which precede it are in the field.  It has happened just a dozen times in the past and the surprising part is that on seven occasions, neither of them won the Derby. 13 fillies have won this race but out of them only three -- Chaitanya Ratham, Classic Style and Dynamic Dancer —  all three by Stallions resident at Dashmesh Stud — have bagged the Fillies' - Derby double.  The Colts' - Derby double appears easier for it has been achieved ten times.

Prevalent Force (Multidimensional - Prevalence) won the Hyderabad Colts' Championship Stakes, Gr.3 on a successful objection. He was very clearly interfered with and rightly awarded the race. Early in the straight, he looked well out of it till Srinath got him going to devour much ground. That finishing effort might suggest that the extended distance might be right up his alley. The fact, however, is that this is a short-running family which has excelled only up to a mile. Florescence, the grandam of Prevalent Force, was a daughter of Grey Gaston who won five races. 21 descendants of Florescence have won India and of them only one of them -- Ave Maria, a China Visit half-sister to Prevalence -- has won beyond a mile. This is not to say that Prevalent Force cannot stay a trip over 2000 m. The Multidimensional/Razeen cross does provide an increment of stamina but things will need to go the colt's way and the race run at a pace suitable to him. He is a winner of his last three starts, two of them at Malakpet.

The colt who actually won the Deccan Colts' Championship Stakes, Gr.3 on the track was Tutankhamun (Phoenix Tower - Dancerllon) whose three wins so far have all been over 1400 m. His dosage numbers suggest that he is more likely to get the trip than Prevalent Force. The dosage numbers, though, do not take into the account the fact Phoenix Tower's progeny is best up to a mile. Tutankhamun's dam Dancerllon won the Premio Ramon Bius, Gr.2 over 2200 m. on dirt at Palermo, Buenos Aires. Her produce, mostly by Phoenix Tower, has won 18 races in India of which only one is beyond 1400 m.

Lady In Lace (Chinese Whisper - Sea Spray by Burden of Proof), the winner of the Deccan Fillies' Championship Stakes, Gr.3 beating the Kingfisher Ultra Derby Bangalore, Gr.1 victress Manifold, is the highest rated contender. A winner of six races so far from 11 starts, she has been a refreshing surprise packet, having been bred in Tohana where once stallions like Knight of Medina, Pearl of Life and Ponza stood. Chinese Whisper is a son of the ultra staying influence Montjeu which is not quite ideal for Indian racing. He has, however, produced his share of winners though Lady in Lace is not only his first Classic winner but also his first black-type winner. The filly is interestingly bred being 3x3 to full-brothers Sadler's Wells and Fairy King. The grandam Sea Gazer won the The Hindu South India 1000 Guineas Gr.2 over a mile but nothing beyond that distance. Six of Sea Gazer's seven foals and five siblings of Lady In Lace are winners but none beyond a mile. So unless some influence Montjeu has filtered into this filly, she could be short of puff when the push comes to a shove. The connections of the filly have had to cough up a princely sum of Rs. 9,37,500 as final entry fee for the filly to run on Monday. They must be confident of recovering that amount.

In each of his first three crops, Win Legend, the only son in India of the great sire Sunday Silence, has produced at least one Classic winner and all of them have been fillies. His Kambaku (Win Legend - Star of the Crop) is beautifully bred, his first three dams all being Classic winners. Star of the Crop is the kind of mare with which Win Legend has blended well. Kambaku' s potential outstrips by far his performance so far and, perhaps, he will be a better contender in the winter. Bayrd was a runaway course and distance winner on his last start and having won his previous start as well, he is seeking a hat-trick in a high profile race. A bit tough, one would think. Prince Caspian is a son of Excellent Art and we are still looking for proof that his progeny can stay at this level.

The only other runner is Zelus (Kingda Ka - Brindisi). He made his debut as a two year-old in December but then did not race again till August. He came out of the maidens on his third start early in September. He is lowest rated of the seven runners and on that count alone he faces a stiff task. He is owned by the Dhunjibhoys who have had considerable success at Malakpet in the last couple of years. That, of course, has been in the winter seasons. They are yet to win the Deccan Derby. Brindisi, the dam of Zelus, was a Listed winner abroad and she has also produced a Listed winner. Zelus comes from the staying Ka-Lu-A family which was so well developed by Reg Hollingsworth.

This year's average field rating is 64 which is par for this contest. Though the dam lines of both Prevalent Force and Lady In Lace are better suited to shorter distances, the superior class of those two should enable them vie for the honours. The threat, if any, may come from Tutankhamun.

PAST THE POST

It is eight years since Malakpet has cheered a local winner of the race. That was Sparks in 2009 trained by S.A. Shehzad Abbas. So Lady in Lace will carry the added weight of local expectations.

Karan Singh rode four winners of this race -- all for trainer Madhav Mangalorkar -- and that number has not been exceeded yet. Among the current jockeys, Y.S. Srinath is the most successful one with three winners. R.R. Byramji's record of six winners is still in tact. He is followed by S. Padmanabhan with five who does not have a runner this year. Among the stud farms, it is Usha Stud which is at the top with nine wins but the leading stallion is Ilheus with three.