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She had gone off to sleep in the backstretch: Jockey Crastus

Dr Vijay Mallya's Smashing, trained by Pesi Shroff and ridden by French jockey Anthony Crastus, pulverised her nine opponents to win the Indian Oaks (Gr 1), the third Classic of the current Mahalaxmi racing season, which is also called the "Ladies' Derby" because it is run over the Derby trip of mile-and-a-half, and is reserved only for fillies.


Jockey Anthony Crastus rides Smashing to victory at Mahalaxmi race
course yesterday. Pic/Bipin Kokate


The got-abroad Holy Roman Emperor -- Exquisite filly was freely available at 7/1 in the bookmakers' ring, even as two other Shroff trainees were more in demand --favourite Alma Mater at 16/10 and Volterra at 9/2.

The reason for the generous odds on Smashing was she had faltered as a favorite in the Indian 1000 Guineas which was won by Alma Mater, and it was generally thought Smashing, whose earlier three wins were all up to only seven furlongs, was not meant for longer trips.

"Our team was unanimous and confident that she will stay the grueling mile-and-a-half trip though everybody around us refused to believe," said Dr Vijay Mallya, who made it a point to be present at the Mahalaxmi racecourse on yesterday to witness Smashing's Oaks victory, "everybody wrote her off because of her poor showing in the Guineas, but my friend Mohit Lalwani researched her ancestry and gave us the confidence she can stay the trip, and insisted we must run her in the Oaks."

Jockey Anthony Crastus, for whom this was the first ever success in an Indian Classic at Mahalaxmi, confessed he was actually surprised when Smashing responded to his urgings with such an electrifying response. "She had gone off to sleep in the backstretch," he said in a post-race interview, "so when I alerted her in the homestretch, I was taken aback when she responded almost instantly and unleashed such energy! I knew she would just run away from them all."

Smashing treated her rivals with utter contempt, after Crastus gave just one back-handed whip-lash on her left hind quarters, and opened a long 4-3/4 lengths over favourite Alma Mater and Richard Hughes who were too numbed to offer any response as the winner past the wire in solitary splendour.

Because Smashing will obviously choose to run in the McDowell Indian Derby (Gr 1) sponsored by her owner Dr Vijay Mallya's UB Group on February 5, the most spectacular racing event of the Indian racing calendar may now turn out to be a quadrangular contest between two fillies (Smashing & In The Spotlight) & two colts (Pronto Pronto & Picasso).

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