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Mumbai gears up for Derby gala

This year the Derby promises to be the splashiest event ever as the winner will drive off with a Mercedes C class.

india Updated: Feb 05, 2007 12:42 IST
HT Cafe
HT Cafe

Pull out your glad rags and shine your shoes for the Indian Derby.

More than 25,000 people are expected to reach the Mahalaxmi race course for the city’s most important sports-cumsocial event with the intent of “being there” and hopefully to watch a few thoroughbred champions too.

This year the Derby promises to be the splashiest event ever. The winner will drive off with a Mercedes C class.

The winner must predict the first four places in the Indian Derby in the correct order. That shouldn’t be very difficult since there are just eight runners.

The favourite is Southern Empire from Dr M A M Ramaswamy’s Chennai stable which will run at the most miserly odds in over two decades.

Southern Empire has the trappings of a racing icon. He remains unbeaten in his ten starts to date and seems certain to extend his winning streak to 11 races with a victory this Sunday.

Of the seven who have challenged this horse is a filly called Blue Ribbon. She is winner of the Ladies’ Derby which is the second most important classic in India. Blue Ribbon is a very lightly raced filly with four starts.

Of these, she has won her last three including the Indian Oaks. The legendary Pesi Shroff trains her and she will provide sharp interest in this battle of genders.

The last time that a filly achieved the coveted double of the Indian Oaks and Derby was Starfire Girl ridden by Blue Ribbon’s trainer Pesi Shroff.

One horse who has surprised the racing world is Diabolical. Also owned by Dr. Ramaswamy, this four-year-old gelding arrived here this week after winning the Hyderabad Derby last Sunday.

No one doubted his talent but he shocked most of the racing world when he demonstrated that he had amazing stamina. He could well turn out to be the dark horse of the race.

The Derby is aimed as a family entertainer. An international carnival complete with samba dancers,stilt walkers, percussionists, fire dancers, tarot card readers, tattoo artistes, have been programmed for the youth segment.

International cocktail jockeys Jay and Illias will be there to whip up exotic drinks including the Special Derby Mix.

Also, a con test will be on to give the winner his or her weight in Black Dog whisky! The origins of the Indian Derby can be sourced from its older counterpart, the Epsom Derby which is run just South of London in June every year.

In 1780, a bunch of drunken English nobles held a race over a mile and a half for three-year-old colts.

First Published: Feb 05, 2007 09:00 IST