People who are connected with racing in some way, whether professionals—trainers and jockeys—or administrators, handicappers, punters, or once-a-year Derby visitors—it is interesting to know how they view the forthcoming Derby and who they think would be the eventual winner that will win the biggest prize in the history of any single sporting event: stakes money of over Rs 3.5 crore!
When a race like the Kingfisher Ultra Indian Derby (Gr 1) is as open as it is this time, one gets as many opinions as there are horses. There will be 20 runners in the fray for the blue riband of the Indian turf that will be run exactly at 5.15 pm this Sunday at the Mahalaxmi racetrack.
Below, some views you can use, if you are planning to visit the Mahalaxmi racecourse on Sunday.
Pesi Shroff, trainer of Costa Del Sol, Myrtlewood & Gestapo: With 20 runners, luck of the race could prove a dominant factor. Also, the gate position may play a crucial role. All my horses are talented, I hope they will give a good account of themselves.
Saleem Fazelbhoy, senior member, RWTIC: Costa Del Sol is my choice for the Derby.
S Padmanabhan, trainer of Desert God: Desert God is tuned well for the big race, and I am very confident he will do well.
Vivek Jain, chief of marketing, RWITC: With my involvement in the pre-Derby events, I have had no time to study the form! But on quick assessment, I would say it should be between Myrtlewood, with a blinding turn of foot, and Desert God, who comes (here) with Classic wins over this distance. As open as they come!
R Bijlani, handicapper/punter: I can’t say if it would be Myrtlewood or Costa Del Sol, but this race is at the mercy of Mr Pesi Shroff. He has nothing to fear.
Sumeet Chopra, fashion photographer: What’s the big deal in rooting for favourites? I will give a Derby tip for your readers who want to risk a small amount. Go for Colombiana, I say. His last victory was a great improvement over earlier runs.
FK Rattonsey, horse owner who has won the Derby twice: The Shroff filly (Myrtlewood) is the only one who has stayed the trip on this track. If Pesi’s other horse (Costa Del Sol) can stay, then it’s a toss-up between the two. I feel the last two furlongs will be very crucial.
Champaklal Zaveri, steward, RWITC: I think Myrtlewood is the one they all will have to beat.
Shashi Kumar, Beyer speed figures expert: Costa Del Sol, by virtue of his last fantastic victory, should be able to beat Phoenix Tiger who ran a questionable race in the Ruia.
Mahendra Mallya, race caller, RWITC: I feel the young lady (Myrtlewood) will beat the boys as her turn of foot at the business end has been exceptional.
Vijay Shirke, owner of Gestapo: I will not take Gestapo’s last run at face value. The horse lacked experience, even the jockey (Jim Crowley) said Gestapo has potential. I am keeping my fingers crossed.
David Allan, jockey of Desert God: My horse has come up very well after spending two weeks in Mumbai. I am satisfied with the way he galloped. We are all set.
Narendra Lagad, trainer: I feel the winner will emerge from the trio of Myrtlewood, Costa Del Sol and Sea Lord.