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75th Indian Derby: Go to Mahalaxmi Racecourse for a truly Super Sunday

Serjeant At Arms favourite for 75th Indian Derby, but Hall Of Famer cause an upset at Mahalaxmi Racecourse today

Serjeant At Arms (A Sandesh up) being led in by Deepa and KN Dhunjibhoy recently

Will he stay the Derby trip? Or won't he?

That's the question on everyone's lips as apprehensions are openly being expressed about the staying ability (read stamina) of the champion four-year-old horse, Serjeant At Arms, who goes to the post as favourite for the 75th running of the greatest race in the Indian racing calendar: the Kingfisher Ultra Indian Derby (Gr 1), partnered by Signature.

Blood hints
And you can't really find fault with the logic the doubters offer to put a question mark over Serjeant's stamina. Because although he has won seven out of eight races so far in his career and won them like a champion. However, he has never tackled the Derby distance of 2,400 metres. Add to that the fact that Rahy's Serenade, his mother, has never contributed stamina to her offspring, limiting their excellence only up to the mile. Unlike in other sports, implication of bloodlines is taken very seriously in horse racing, and therefore it is difficult to argue with the doubters.

Astounding show
Another factor that has suddenly changed the Derby equation is the astounding improvement displayed by Hall Of Famer, trained by S Padmanhan who had saddled Derby winner Desert God last year, and will be looking for a back-to-back double. After shaping like a winner before getting shocked at the post by Mrs Patmore in the Indian 1000 Guineas, Hall Of Famer (by Win Legend out of Elusive Trust) pulverised opposition in the Calcutta Derby by inflicting a crushing defeat on her rivals which included Accolade and Silver Beauty among others. Her manner of victory, clocking less than 35 seconds for the last three furlongs, was sensational to say the least. Many experts, including Pesi Shroff who himself has three runners in the Derby fray, feel she has the best claim to the Derby title.

Hall Of Famer (David Allan up). Photo credit: RacingPulse.in

Dark horse
Besides these top two contenders, there are a dozen others in the fray, and the most notable among them is the Pesi Shroff-trained Temerity (Intense Focus - Narmina), winner of the Indian Oaks on this track two weeks ago. Having braved so successfully an unfortunate injury at the gates which clearly caused her 1000 Guineas loss, Temerity may show a dramatic improvement in her form today, and looks capable of surprising this field.

Classy Serjeant
Having expressed my opinion about the leading contenders, let me make it clear that my money will certainly ride on Serjeant At Arms. No, I don't disbelieve the pedigree pundits who are shouting from the rooftops that Serjeant will not be able to stay the trip.

But I strongly feel Serjeant is endowed with tremendous “class”, that undefinable attribute which separates great horses from the good ones. In fact, I will not hesitate to say that he is actually a standout on the class factor, and I hope this edge in class will serve him well near the finish even if, as the pundits claim, his stamina fuel tends to run out in the final furlong.

In conclusion, I am counting on Serjeant's being “head and shoulders” above his rivals in terms of class, and his ability to accelerate and sweep past the field when asked for an effort. With his regular partner Sandesh in saddle, I would like to believe my money will bring home the dividend.

The big race
The Kingfisher Ultra Indian Derby (Gr 1), partnered by Signature For 4y olds only

Dist: 2400m | Time: 5.10 pm
1. Bold March 57 Dashrath Singh 2;
2. Germanicus 57 Imran Chisty 7;
3. Highland Breeze 57 NS Parmar 13;
4. Lucas 57 Colm O' Donoghue 11;
5. Mathaiyus 57 YS Srinath 3;
6. Salazaar 57 P Trevor 5;
7. Serjeant At Arms 57 A Sandesh 8;
8. Supreme General 57 PS Chouhan 6;
9. Vulcan 57 J Chinoy 9;
10. Hall Of Famer 55.5 David Allan 4;
11. Mrs Patmore 55.5 Beuzelin Louis 1;
12. Silver Beauty 55.5 Suraj Narredu 12;
13. Temerity 55.5 Neeraj Rawal 10;
14. Winter Renaissance 55.5 CS Jodha 14.

Serjeant At Arms (A Sandesh up) being led in by Deepa and KN Dhunjibhoy recently

Full Derby card selections:

First race at 1.30 pm.

Mahindra Lifespaces Million (Class II; 1000m) Serenita 1, Abbey 2, Shivalik Shine 3.
R. N. Kanga Gold Trophy - Gr 3 (For 4y&o; 1600m) Myrtlewood 1, Airco 2.
Grand Turf Racing and Realty Million (Class IV; 2400m) Sovereignsky 1, His Master's Vice 2, Imitation Game 3.
Sshaawn's Million (Class V; 1600m) Sussex Pride 1, Brazos 2, Firenze 3.
Dr. M A M Ramaswamy Multi-Million (For 3y, maidens; 1600m) Admo 1, Perfect Star 2, Zanara 3.
B. K. Rattonsey Memorial Maiden Multi-Million (For 3y, maidens; 1200m) Benefactor 1, Roosevelt 2, Lilybeth 3.
Kingfisher Ultra Indian Derby - Gr 1 (For 4y only; 2400m) Serjeant At Arms 1, Hall Of Famer 2, Temerity 3.
Banarsidas Million (Class III; 1200m) Benezeer 1, Allora 2, Magical Memory 3.

Recommendations
Best bet: Myrtlewood (2-1)
Good bet: Serenita (1-3)
Chance bet: Serjeant At Arms (7-7)
Upsets: Aspen (3-4) & Knight Quest (4-6)

Today's pools
Super jackpot pool: 3,4,5,6,7,8
Jackpot pool: 4,5,6,7,8
Treble pool: I - 5,6,7; II - 6,7,8
Tanala pool: All races.

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