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Indian derby: Trainer S Padmanabhan knew Desert God would win

Jockey David Allan’s immaculate race; running to plan, keeping him on the rails, scripted Derby win, says jubilant trainer, S Padmanabhan

Even as Derby winner horse Desert God, with a red garland around his neck, was being paraded around the paddock yesterday, and as the crowds cheered, wily trainer S Padmanabhan said, “"Before the Derby, I gave only one line interviews to all those who kept asking me about my horse’s prospects and the race in general, ‘Desert God will win this one’.”

The Derby has so many Kodak moments. This is one of them, when the gates slam open and they’re off and running for Indian racing’s coveted crownThe Derby has so many Kodak moments. This is one of them, when the gates slam open and they’re off and running for Indian racing’s coveted crown

Win he did yesterday, with Padmanabhan adding, “David Allan (jockey) ran an immaculate race. We raced to a plan and he stuck to it. Earlier, we had planned to be in eighth or ninth position at the start, and Colombiana actually set up the race, the field spread out and then the horse got into the correct position, which is often difficult in such a packed field. He then stuck to the rails and it was smooth sailing to the finish,” stated Padmanabhan, while his wife, Sharmila, owner of Desert God, said the win was, “what one always dreams of.”

And betting. A band regaled  punters at the racecourse, they shall have music wherever they go
And betting. A band regaled  punters at the racecourse, they shall have music wherever they go

Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) committee member, Champaklal Zaveri stated, “It was an excellent race. Let people not forget that Desert God was a great horse and a multiple race winner too. I must say though, that the filly Myrtlewood ran a great race too, though she was beaten.”

The crowds throng the racecourse, proving that the Derby is the event to say: been there, done that
The crowds throng the racecourse, proving that the Derby is the event to say: been there, done that

Trainers Narendra Lagad and Imtiaz Sait added, that, “there are no hard luck stories. The best horse won, and the horse stayed the distance.”

Saif and Kareena (r) with horse Desert God. trainer S Padmanabhan is next to Saif, RWITC chairman Zavaray Poonawalla is seen on the left. Pics/Shadab Khan
Saif and Kareena (r) with horse Desert God. trainer S Padmanabhan is next to Saif, RWITC chairman Zavaray Poonawalla is seen on the left. Pics/Shadab Khan

Both RWITC honchos Vivek Jain and Zavaray Poonawalla were enthused by the numbers at the racecourse and hopefully, by today morning when the tote collection numbers will be out too. “We actually once thought that it may have to close the racecourse gates because so many people were coming in, but, thankfully we did not have to do that.” The club got an unexpected dash of glamour. Stars Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan, guests of the Rattonsey family, were at the racecourse and the club invited them to walk to the paddock, creating a stir amongst punters who charged across the turf with their mobiles. The stars’ bouncers had to be extra alert as the crowd went berserk when the Saifeena pair (as they are called) walked towards the paddock.

The horse Desert God though seemed bemused by all the attention the stars were getting. He seemed to ask the crowd, hey, am I not the star today?

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