Fly High Dubai

Published: 21 December, 2012 08:23 IST | Hemal Ashar |

Superstar Indian filly In The Spotlight all set for desert debut; owners, trainer hopeful of great show on green billiards table like track

In The Spotlight, (Indian filly by Al Nasr Alwasheek out of Radiate) the Indian Derby winner of 2012, is all set to make an overseas debut. The speedy filly flies to Dubai today to participate in three races in the land of oil, money and some of the world’s best horseflesh.

This equine will line up with the best in the Dubai International Carnival 2013. She flies out in a special container for Dubai in the early hours of Friday, December 21 and is slated to run three races in Dubai. The first on January 17. The second race will be run on February 28 and then she gets a third on March 31, in the Dubai Gold Cup.

Owner-breeder Zavaray Poonawalla, owner Capt. J Appoo and trainer S Padmanabhan held a news conference at the Amateur Riders Club (ARC) lounge yesterday afternoon at the Mahalaxmi racecourse, to showcase the filly and speak about In The Spotlight’s Dubai challenge.

K N Dhunjibhoy, chairman Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) said that, “In The Spotlight is a wonderful filly and Paddy (nickname for trainer S Padmanabhan) has travelled her like mad, from Kolkata to Hyderabad. There is nothing much left for her to prove here so the owners have taken her international.” Dhunjibhoy signed off saying that he hoped the filly would cover herself in glory, “and then we can have a statue of hers somewhere.”

Gosh, is it me they're looking at? Filly In The Spotlight seemed to ask the syce as she saw the cameras popping and a clutch of people gesturing towards her.  Pics/Bipin Kokate

Former RWITC chairman Vivek Jain said that In The Spotlight, “Is not a filly belonging to a particular racing centre but to all of India,” which echoed Zavaray’s rousing, “In The Spotlight is not just our filly, she is India’s filly and we are so proud that she will be flying the country’s colours in Dubai. She is a symbol of the coming of age of Indian equines.” Zavaray added that all supporters of In The Spotlight, “are upbeat about her prospects in Dubai, she is a super duper star.”

Gates closed: The enclosure inside which the filly was kept

Trainer S Padmanabhan claimed that if there was a worry, it was the fact that the filly would be running anti-clockwise in Dubai as compared to clockwise here and said they had about three weeks to acclimatise.

Do you think we should practice some bhangara? Zavaray Poonawalla (l) and Capt. J Appoo

The jockey who would be picked to ride her is not finalised yet. Padmanabhan said that the, “Dubai grass track is one of the best in the world and literally like a billiards table. Horses go like a spring on it.” The trainer also spoke about the first time he saw the filly, “the way she walked and the attitude was good, I spoke to the owner and said one should buy the filly. It is in fact, one of the times when you get everything right. Generally, one does not.”

Rock the track: Trainer S Padmanabhan

Zavaray added that, “After reaching Dubai, In The Spotlight gets 2-3 days of rest and then it is work. We lost one week, we should have been there a week earlier. Anyway, I believe that a horse with a great heart and good feet will perform anywhere and In The Spotlight has those attributes.”

After that, the press was shown the filly at a special enclosure at Mahalaxmi, brown coat looking particularly glossy. Zavaray said light heartedly, “She looks like a good-looking, contemporary Indian actress now, sleek and in shape, unlike the gol matol (rotund) yesteryear actresses. If she wins, we will all do the bhangara on the race track,” he finished. Well, balle, balle to that.

Track record
In the Spotlight has won the Indian Derby, The Calcutta Derby, the Hyderabad Derby, the Indian St Leger and Bangalore St Leger. In Dubai she will race on:
January 17, 2013: 2400m
February 28, 2013: 2800m
March 31, 2013: 3200m  

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