Calcutta: Battlelines were drawn much earlier than the second Sunday of July, the day billed for the Kingfisher Bangalore Derby. The winter form pointed to the winning chances of Flashing Star and Holding Court in the summer Classics, and the two fashionably bred three-year-olds confirmed their credentials when they fought a fierce battle for supremacy in the Colts Stakes nearly a month ago.
If Holding Court got the judges’ nod in the ‘Colts,’ Flashing Star was no disgrace in defeat as the verdict between the two was literally skin of the teeth. Yes, Doubting Thomases resented jockey B. Prakash’s delayed challenge on Flashing Star, a S. Ganapathy-trainee. S. Padmanabhan, who trained the winner, rubbished such comments. “Had Appu not punched the air before the final stride, the verdict would have been decisive,” said Padmanabhan ' popular in the racing circles as Paddu and Paddy ' over the phone from Bangalore.
Paddy’s observations were echoed by his fellow-professionals who opined that such an act ends up unbalancing the horse, and the jockey, as well.
Paddy had groomed himself into the profession after getting his basics right while in Amateur Riding School, Chennai, nearly three decades ago. The height and weight problems had compelled him to choose between the family’s printing business and his first love ' training horses.
The debate before the Derby now switches to the staying prowess. The popular belief that the horses who jump on to the scene late boast of stamina against those runners treating even a mile race as a sprint. Flashing Star falls into the first category but such maneuverings had cost the Razeen-Altitude son dearly on each of two occasions this season. To make the matter worse, the MAM Ramaswamy-property was no match for Yes Es Yes Ses in a terms race on a rain soaked track.
Ganapathy, however, feels differently. “Rain or sunshine, Flashing Star is going to run a great race over the Derby trip,” said Ganapathy from Bangalore.
Ganapathy-camp is also banking heavily upon the bloodlines of Flashing Star. Rightly so, Razeen has produced many Derby winners compared to Holding Court’s sire, Royal Kingdom who has nothing to boast of pertaining to longer Classics. Yes, his dam, Confiture, had won a 2,000m race in France, and she is the daughter of Emprey ' the Epsom Derby winner.
Further, Holding Court’s Derby workouts are as brilliant as Flashing Star’s. More importantly, he was trained for a mile when he won the ‘Colts’ and now his target is the Derby. “He will definitely relish the Derby course,” said Paddy, as he signed off.