Horse racing: Full marks to jockey Sandesh, says trainer Malesh Narredu
In a wonderful display of upgrade of form, the Malesh Narredu-trained Colombiana
In a wonderful display of upgrade of form, the Malesh Narredu-trained Colombiana, who was summarily beaten by Alaindair when they last met on the Mahalaxmi racetrack three weeks ago, turned the tables on his conqueror to score a thrilling photo-finish victory in the grade 2, Mararaja Sir Harisinghji Trophy, the feature event of Sunday's seven-race card.
The winner, who brushed up after a slow jump to stay close to the piping-hot on-money favourite Alaindair, kept stalking him all the way of the mile trip before making an all-out assault to put his head in front at the wire. Colombiana carried the 'saffron & white' silks of Diwan Arun Nanda who owns the four-year-old colt with his son Amitabh, daugher Esha, and breeder Sultan Singh of the Sohna stud.
After lying closer to the wrong end initially, jockey Srinath astride Alaindair made his move rounding the final turn, and soon rushed to grab the lead, perhaps a bit too soon. But Myrtlewood (Trevor Patel up) quickened immediately to assume command with two furlongs still to go, and put up a stiff fight that eventually wore out Alaindair despite Srinath managing to get the upper hand 50 meters from home. Sandesh, who was vigorously working on Colombiana to stay in contention, kept on gaining precious inches over the warring duo, and finally managed to have the last laugh.
"I will give the entire credit to Sandesh," trainer Malesh Narredu told mid-day after the race, "full marks to him; he rode a fabulous race."
When asked how he managed such a drastic form reversal for Colombiana, Malesh said, "I always thought he could perform better, so I was experimenting with many things. I changed his training pattern, and yes, I also put blinkers on him--I think that made a difference. In the past, he had won races with blinkers, but later he started bolting, so I had taken them off."
Ironically, winner Colombiana was actually slow to jump, and lost about four lengths at the gates. When asked if that caused any anxiety, the trainer replied, "Not exactly. Because I saw Alaindair near the rear, and Sandesh had managed to position Colombiana close to him, so I knew we would be there at the finish."
Malesh Narredu is one trainer who has often openly admitted he believes in superstition. This time was no exception, as he revealed to mid-day. Nephew Suraj Narredu was Malesh's choice to ride Colombiana in this race, but he had a commitment to ride another horse, B Fifty Two bred by Manjri stud, as he enjoys the first retainer from them.
"I have no shame in admitting that I am superstitious," Malesh confessed, "in this game, it is difficult not to be. So when Suraj told me he was not available, I immediately thought of Sandesh because he had won this same race for me on this track three years ago with Star Supreme. I had a sort of hunch that he would again do it for me--and he really did!"
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