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By Mahendra Mallya
Friday 02 Feb 2018

Every sport has its own pinnacle and grandeur to go with it. While few sports in India have matched the euphoria of this cricket crazy nation, the Indian Derby has managed to retain its popularity at the top level over the 75 years since its inception in 1943. A filly named Princess Beautiful carved a niche’ for herself by winning the inaugural Indian Derby that year. Who will it be in this 76th edition?

The Indian Derby has dominated the sport and has remained the topmost event in racing – the ultimate glory to conquer for every owner, trainer, jockey and breeder!

In the mid ‘80s, Dr Vijay Mallya took the racing fraternity by storm with his sponsorship of the Indian Derby and changed the scenario dramatically. His vision and style in showcasing the race infused tremendous energy and created a unique frenzy even among the non-racing circles in the city of Mumbai, making the Indian Derby an iconic race which it is to this day.  

“The Indian Derby is more than just a race,” says Mr Prashant Patwardhan, General Manager, Marketing of the UB Group. We are proud to be associated with the Indian Derby. Rightly billed as the most exiting two-minutes in sports, the Indian Derby is also a spectacular party which embodies brilliant mix of tradition and modernity, racing and celebration, fun and fashion, music, dance and food in an electrifying atmosphere. There is no other arena or event that can provide such a unique and thrilling experience,” said Mr Patwardhan at the press conference held at the Tote in the racecourse premises on 31st January.

“As custodian of Kingfisher Ultra whose consumers always seek extraordinary experiences, the Indian Derby provides us the perfect platform to present that unique and memorable experience to our audience. Our endeavour is to make it the coolest party in town and with that goal we are providing three days of non-stop excitement and colour, including live entertainment with best of DJs, music launch of film Dasdev, fashion, gaming, food and the Ultra experience,” Prashant added.

Moments earlier, Mr KN Dhunjibhoy, Chairman, RWITC opened the press conference with a formal welcome and was quick to reveal the elaborate arrangements for the Kingfisher Ultra Indian Derby (Gr1). “We are expecting a large crowd and the RWITC, along with the UB Group, will present a high mix of racing action and entertainment to go with it. The Derby will obviously be the top draw and twelve runners are in the fray for the rich stakes of about to Rs 1.9 crore. It will be a keen contest and I hope one my horses comes up trumps as will the other connections. Overall, I think we have lined-up a mega event for everyone to have a good time and witness the thrill of the Indian Derby,” said Mr Dhunjibhoy.    

Dr Ram Shroff is wearing the mantle of heading the marketing committee and he is working overtime to ensure that the event of the year goes off smoothly and the crowd has a memorable weekend.

“We are indeed thankful to the UB Group for their continued sponsorship and support in presenting the Indian Derby with the utmost grandeur this race deserves. On our part, the club too is offering high prizes for those at the racecourse. The recently introduced ‘Quinella ka Dhamaka’ is gaining in popularity as also the ‘Race ka Raja’ contest for our patrons in the 1st enclosure both have been extremely well-received by the masses. This time we are happy to announce a Ducati motorbike up for grabs as the grand prize for the contest of skill,” said Dr Shroff.

The build-up then, for the most glamorous race of the land began in the right earnest and it is designed to be a three-day celebration, kicking off with the pre-Derby party on Friday evening.

Prevalent Force, Lady In Lace, Manifold and Aggregated will be the most favoured among the dozen contestants. However, each of these has their work cut out. Prevalent Force steps on the course first time, Lady In Lace has just recovered from an infection, Manifold will have to turn around the form having been beaten more than once by Lady In Lace and Aggregator will have to make do with the least experience of just three outings. So the others in the fray will definitely be aware of these chinks and could there be a Dark ‘Un lurking…wouldn’t it be fascinating to find out?