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Trainer Malesh Narredu talks about furlongs under floodlights, as gates slam open for evening racing at Mahalaxmi Racecourse

Malesh Narredu, successful horse trainer in western India, was a former ace jockey. In 2009, he visited Qatar on the invitation of Sheikh Mishal, the son of the ruler of Qatar, to ride his horses.

Also read: Studs race at night on the Mahalaxmi racecourse

Malesh Narredu, (r) now a successful trainer
Malesh Narredu, (r) now a successful trainer

There, he raced under the floodlights, riding eight winners. Malesh hung up his riding boots four years ago, to take up a trainer’s career.

Light up the night. Pic Courtesy: Asilo rooftop, St. Regis hotel, Lower Parel
Light up the night. Pic Courtesy: Asilo rooftop, St. Regis hotel, Lower Parel

“I used to go almost every week to Qatar to ride for the Sheikh,” Malesh said.

“It was a new experience riding under the floodlights but not significantly different.

The lighting was so good, it was like you were riding in daylight. I remember I rode my first winner in my second ride, and was elated.”

Also read: Silver lining for night racing at Mahalaxmi racecourse

Talking specifically about Mahalaxmi, he says, “Evenings being cooler, racing will be kinder to horses, especially as we move into the summer months. Also, this sport is always known as a thrilling sport, but night racing takes this experience to a different level. For most of my friends who witnessed it last year, it was ‘breathtaking’.”

Malesh will be saddling seven runners on today’s card, two of them, Shivalik Shine and Ice Cube Baby, will be participating under the floodlights in the last two races.

No hitch with this pitch
Suhail Mohammed is to a race track what a curator is to cricket pitch. The 51 year-old estate officer of the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) has been looking after the maintenance of the Mahalaxmi racetrack for the last seven years.

Suhail Mohammed
Suhail Mohammed

With the evening racing to commence today, mid-day caught up with the him to understand what precautions he has taken to make racing as safe in the night as it is in the day.

Q: With the nights being cooler, any special care to tackle the dew?
A: We had faced this issue last year, but then it was April. This is January. And normally in winter, we don’t water the track on the eve of a race day. We check the track and then decide. It’s not a set pattern. It’s a judgement call everyday, you have to take into account the prevalent weather condition. The dew factor picks up momentum after 8.30 or 9 pm, and our last race will be over well before that time.

Q: What was the feedback from last April’s trial?
A: The feedback was positive. The jockeys stated that the horses were very comfortable, as if they were riding in the day.

Q: What is the main difference compared to last year?
A: The races were limited to 1200m last time. This time, we have extended the lighting up to the mile chute, so punters will witness some races over the mile too.

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