Cheer yourself horse

Updated: 05 December, 2019 08:50 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

India's top jockey Suraj Narredu is a tantalising three wins away from 2,000-win milestone; ace rider keen to reach the mark at Mahalaxmi

Jockey Suraj Narredu after winning the Indian Derby with Be Safe in 2015
Jockey Suraj Narredu after winning the Indian Derby with Be Safe in 2015

It is 1,997 down and three to go for top jockey Suraj Narredu, who is a tantalising three wins away from notching up the magical milestone of 2,000 winners in the sport.

The 2,000 number has been reached just once before by late jockey B Prakash, who passed away in December last year after a heart attack. Suraj, who has two Indian Derby wins to his credit, is riding in Kolkata tomorrow and then in Mumbai on Sunday (December 8).

Sunshine jockey

Suraj, true to his name, is Indian racing's sunshine jockey with 17 years riding experience, may fly his wife and children down to Mumbai from Bangalore if he thinks he could clinch this on the Mahalaxmi track. "Wherever I ride it would of course mean much more to me to have my family looking on, when I make 2,000," he said.

Suraj's 1,000 came in 2010 when the S Padmanabhan trained Becket took him past the post in the Nizam's Gold Cup at Hyderabad. After that, it was one win after another and 2,000 gleamed on the horizon when he went past 1,800 winners. Suraj said, "I am a person who takes one day at a time. I just went about my daily routine even as I realised that I'm close to the mark." Racing officials and aficionados have already started cheering. Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) chairman Zavaray Poonawalla said, "It would be a huge occasion for Suraj personally, Indian racing in the bigger picture and celebratory for Mahalaxmi if he reaches the 2,000 mark in Mumbai."

"The champagne is on ice, and I hope we can uncork it at Mahalaxmi on Sunday," said Suraj's uncle and ace trainer Malesh Narredu, who is hoping that Suraj makes the 2,000 mark riding the horse he has trained.

Suraj is the son of Malesh's older brother Satish and of course, part of the redoubtable Narredu family, whose family footprint is all over Indian racing. Between all the Narredu racing professionals, some former jockeys, now trainers others still in the saddle, they have more than 5,000 Indian
racing wins.

'Grand benchmark'

Malesh said, "This achievement would be stupendous considering such few jockeys even have 1,000 winners to their credit, it is an elite club. I have 1,762 winners as jockey. When we reach the figure of 1,000 wins, the racing centre from where we race, gives jockeys a silver hat and a silver whip. So, 2,000 will be an elite of the elite achievement, it is a grand benchmark," said Malesh excitedly signing off, "I am so proud of my nephew."

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First Published: 05 December, 2019 06:57 IST

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