The Ace - Victory And Gold three-year-old filly, bred at the Poonawalla stud farm, inflicted a humiliating defeat on her half a dozen rivals, including the highly rated Silver Birch & Manyatta who were more advantageously placed than Neona by at least 10kg, based on the official ratings chart.
In an exclusive chat with MiD DAY, Bezan Chenoy shared the secret of Neona's success.
Here are the excerpts:
MD: When did you decide to slot Neona for the F D Wadia Trophy?
BC: During her last run at Mumbai, the inside track was not very good, but she still improved well to finish a creditable second to Days Best after she was pulled on the outside. That raised my hopes. And when she started showing promise in work, and ran a very good mock race on July 27, I made up my mind to pitch her in the F D Wadia Trophy.
MD: How confident were you before the race?
BC: I was very confident--you could say I was almost arrogant. Because when my owners thought I was mad, taking on horses rated 70 & above with a filly rated below 40, they actually wanted me to take her off before the acceptance stage! I don't blame them--why should an owner sacrifice a good horse in trying the impossible? But I told them I had prepared Neona specifically for this race, and I knew what I was doing. They were sportive enough to let me have my way, because I am sure their every instinct must have told them I had gone mad.
MD: Did you expect such an easy victory?
BC: When you have a good horse, good preparation and a good jockey, things look easier after the fact. I had just told the boy (jockey Sandesh) the grey horse in the race (favourite Silver Birch trained by Pesi Shroff) likes to go to the front, so try to be near him, and if you think he is slowing down, leave him and run your own race--and that's precisely what he did. Neona is a one-paced filly, but she has class. It will take an exceptional horse to catch her when she keeps going.
MD: What's her optimum trip? Will she be trageted for the Nanoli Derby?
BC: No. Mile should not be a problem for her, but not the Derby trip (ten furlongs). So we will stick to terms races of up to the mile.