India derby build up: Aggregated rated!

Updated: 31 January, 2018 17:18 IST | Prakash Gosavi | Mumbai

Aggregated, by Dean's Kitten out of Wonder Smile, is trainer Malesh Narredu's sole entry in Sunday's (Feb 4) Indian Derby field. The trainer, who has won the big race three years ago with Be Safe, profiles his horse exclusively for mid-day reader

Trainer Malesh Narredu (right) leading Aggregated (Suraj Narredu up) after his Kolkata Derby victory. pic/Indrajit Kumar
Trainer Malesh Narredu (right) leading Aggregated (Suraj Narredu up) after his Kolkata Derby victory. pic/Indrajit Kumar

Like us humans, horses too have their stories--and like us humans, not all horse stories get published.

Let me tell you the story of my horse, Aggregated. He failed to win an ordinary, maiden race on debut at Pune; but in just the second start of his life, he shocked all by winning the Gr 1, Kolkata 2000 Guineas!

And if that was not enough, he went on to bag the Gr 1, Kolkata Derby in next start. So there he stands now--two wins from three starts, and the fourth start due in the Gr 1, Kingfisher Ultra Indian Derby, to be run this Sunday (Feb 4) at the Mahalaxmi racetrack.

Raw talent
And believe me, Aggregated has accomplished this without much training. I picked him up from Sohna stud farm as a baby because I had trained his half brother Colombiana for the same owners--Diwan Arun Nanda & his family. Colombiana was a stout and gutsy horse who won many group races for us after miraculously escaping from a ghastly road accident.

Frankly, as a baby Aggregated looked much better than Colombiana, so we had high hopes from him. In fact, I had already planned in advance the Kolkata Classics route for him, and had entered him in the 2000 Guineas & the Derby there.

Issues galore
But Aggregated turned out to he rather soft, and faced so many issues there was no way he could be put into training. The Nanda's, I must say, are great owners to have--they showed tremendous patience, and told me not to rush him.

But then the Pune season was about to end, so we decided to run him in a seven-furlong race in the final weekend of October. He lost to a fluke horse, but I was not perturbed because he had beaten the rest of the field decisively.

Off to Kolkata
I decided to send him into the Kolkata 2000 Guineas, again, with no preparation except for a mock race. He surprised all (us included!) by winning that group race in only the second start. There was nothing in our hands except to keep believing in his class and talent, so Kolkata Derby was the next obvious target.

He did respond well to training thereafter, and I asked my nephew Suraj to spurt him before the race.

Suraj is brutally honest with his feedback, so I was thrilled with his very positive body language when he returned after working Aggregated. "Yes, we definitely have a chance," he declared. True to his word, Suraj rode him to a splendid victory, but what was more gratifying was that Aggregated could smoothly make a transition from the mile trip of the Guineas to the mile-and-a-half trip of the Derby.

Uphill task? So what?
Lady In Lace, Manifold & Prevalent Force are giants in their own right, and by all known conventions, some may feel it would be an uphill task for Aggregated to take them on in what would only be the fourth race of his life. But recently many horses have taken the Kolkata Classics route and successfully raided the Indian Derby, so I am keeping fingers crossed and prayers on--it's racing after all.

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First Published: 31 January, 2018 08:23 IST

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