Indian Derby: All eyes on Prevalent Force

Updated: Feb 04, 2018, 12:25 IST | Prakash Gosavi

The stage is all set for the 76th running of the greatest annual race of the Indian racing calendar - the Kingfisher Ultra Indian Derby (Grade 1) on Sunday

Spectators watch the 75th Indian Derby at Mahalaxmi Racecourse last February.  PIC/SAMEER MARKANDE
Spectators watch the 75th Indian Derby at Mahalaxmi Racecourse last February.  PIC/SAMEER MARKANDE

The stage is all set for the 76th running of the greatest annual race of the Indian racing calendar--the Kingfisher Ultra Indian Derby (Gr 1). The grueling test of speed and stamina for which a dozen of the best four-year-old horses will line up opposite the grand stand of the majestic Mahalaxmi racecourse, promises to be an exciting affair.

All eyes on Prevalent Force
The one who will attract the most eyeballs will obviously be Prevalent Force, quoted as a very strong favourite at 5 to 4 (see the Odds box). Trained by Darius Byramji and to be ridden by YS Srinath, Prevalent Force has gone from strength to strength with each successive victory. The only Achilles heel, if I may say so, could be the fact that he will be encountering the Mahalaxmi racetrack for the first time in his career, and history is replete with examples of really good horses stumbling at this block.

Lady needs luck
The Prasad Raju-trained Lady In Lace, whose loss to Prevalent Force under torrential rains at Hyderabad boosted the stock of the latter, hasn't done really anything wrong, and her rider Suraj Narredu, in an exclusive piece he penned for mid-day, declared in no uncertain terms that he hopes to win the Derby with her. But I feel if it comes to a crunch performance, she may suffer from the after-effects of the infection she is said to have recently suffered, especially when the race comes to a boil.

Money on Manifold
That brings me to Manifold, trained by Pesi Shroff, the man who holds record of winning the Derby eight times as a jockey, but has managed to win it only once as trainer with Jacqueline (2010). I rate Manifold's last victory (Oaks)--especially her striding style in the last furlong--as the best performance of her career so far; and since it was over the same trip, I am upgrading her as my first choice for the Derby. Yes, I am aware she may go out at 5/1, but that's all the more reason to side with her because win or lose, she will definitely represent "good value" as a bet.

The dark trio
While the trio of Prevalent Force, Lady In Lace & Manifold will be the fancied lot, there are three more horses in the Derby fray who can be termed as the "dark" ones. Heading the list is Rochester, who treated Castlebridge with utter disregard; Sana, who has an excuse for her loss in the Kolkata Derby and who is pitched in here as an ambitious final entry; and Zenon, another from Pesi Shroff who has given proof that he can stay over this trip without working up sweat, and who may have come up tremendously without anyone's knowledge.

Selections: Manifold 1, Prevalent Force 2, Lady In Lace 3. Upset: Zenon

First race at 2.30 pm.
Please log on to www.mid-day.com for full card selections.

Special BOX 1
The Odds Box: likely odds on Derby runners
1. Aggregated 7/1
2. Big Sur 40/1
3. Grand Passage 200/1
4. Perfect Star 40/1
5. Prevalent Force 5/4
6. Rochester 15/1
7. Zenon 15/1
8. Daffodil 30/1
9. Lady In Lace 11/4
10. Manifold 5/1
11. Sana 9/1
12. Themis 14/1

Special BOX 2

  • Special Derby attractions
  • Jackpot likely to swell to Rs 1 crore
  • Super jackpot to touch Rs 40 lakh
  • Ducati Scrambler bike as first prize in FREE contest of skill
  • Last two races under the floodlights
  • Electrifying performance by RAFTAAR
  • Play area for kids
  • Best food stall brands in town

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