First-timer's Derby guide: Getting necessary information

Feb 01, 2012, 08:31 IST | Prakash Gosavi

If you attend Indian Derby (Gr 1) --  the country's greatest racing event -- at the Mahalaxmi racecourse this Sunday (February 5), make sure to carry a race book. Ranging from R10 to R15, you can choose any (or all) of the three popular, pocket-sized race books: Cole, BOL and Lucky Spinner. They will hit the market on the night of February 3 (Friday), and give detailed information about the day's races and runners, including past performance and statistics, and of course -- selections.

Also look up the daily newspapers, most of which give race selections. However, the best public tipster has a strike rate of about 35%, so don't get too carried away with a so-called hot tip. You can log on to the following racing sites for more information:,, http://www.equine/-, and Also, do make it a point to visit our Tipsters' Tally board. It lists ALL the newspapers' selections for the day. On a separate board, we also list bookmakers' opening odds for all races.

Visiting the paddock
About 20 minutes before the race time, horses are brought into the paddock where owners and trainers give instructions to jockeys who then mount the horses and take them to the starting gates. Viewing the horses in paddock can be a great piece of education for the beginner.

Regulars try to lip-read the instructions -- some judge the owner & trainer's level of confidence by the way they are dressed. Their thinking is simple: If they are nattily dressed, they are possibly expecting to be photographed leading in a winner! Not a bad piece of logic, eh?

Horses communicate in a language of body signals and sounds. The signals can be as subtle as change in breathing rhythm or as loud as a shrill snorting sound. The parts of a horse's body that can reveal reliable information to the trained eye are their ears, eyes, muzzle, neck and tail.

It's all about the money!
The prize money for the most prestigious horse race in the Indian racing calendar has been soaring faster than its popularity. This year's  prize is a mind-boggling Rs 2.61 crore.


Prize-money (Rs)

Decade rise






35 %



37 %



112 %



185 %



191 %



271 %



511 %

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