Once upon a big race! Malesh Narredu talks about his connection with Indian Derby

Malesh Narredu on the horse Indictment. Note the white mark on it.

As a jockey, I won only one Indian Derby. That was with the horse Indictment in 1997. As trainer, I won my first Derby with the horse Be Safe two years ago. One thing common with both Indictment and Be Safe was that leading up to the Derby, both these horses gave me a sense of certainty that nothing would stop them from winning the big race. One can't describe that top-of-the-world feeling one gets after winning the Indian Derby.

Indictment was my first live mount in the Indian Derby, before that I was mostly astride long shots who had little or no chance. So I was all charged up to taste the heady wine of success. This horse had an 'asudhar' mark on his forehead, a white patch which many believe to be unlucky. But K N Dhunjibhoy, Indictment owner, did not believe in such superstition.

Indictment, who eventually went on to win the Indian Triple Crown, the 2000 Guineas, the Derby and the St Leger, was always a cool horse off the racetrack, but once on the racetrack, he was a real fighter. His Derby victory was almost like an exhibition race when I kept him way behind before asking him to display his superlative turn of foot.

By contrast Be Safe was a 'king', both on racetrack and in the stables. His attitude was imperious. He practically lorded over my stable, and everyone from stables hands to jockeys were in awe of him and treated him like a 'shahenshah'. It was almost like he instinctively knew he was the best, and wanted everyone to get that message. No wonder he decimated opposition in the Indian Derby to convey the same message to his rivals.

Narredus' tryst with the Derby

The Narredu family, with their second generation now in racing, has enjoyed Derby success like no other family.

Satish Narredu opened the family account by winning the 1996 Indian Derby with Amazing Bay, followed by Malesh Narredu astride Indictment in 1997.

Jockey Suraj Narredu, Satish's son, scored a Derby win with Be Safe (saddled by uncle Malesh) in 2015, whereas Satish's other son, Rajesh, presently a trainer in Bangalore, had tasted the Derby success as a part owner of Super Storm (trained by Satish) in 2013. The only Narredu that has yet to associate with a Derby winner is jockey Yash Narredu, son of Malesh. “Yash is still young, and I am sure one day he will continue the family tradition,” says father Malesh.

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