The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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US alert keeps Enrique away

Mumbai, Jan. 31: If not for the US, there would be more than just models to watch this Derby night. There would be Enrique Iglesias.

But there will be no Iglesias. No Derby night either. All because the US has advised its citizens abroad to be ready to go home in an emergency, signalling that war clouds are gathering over Iraq.

The Latino pop star, as hot as the videos he shoots, was to perform in the city tomorrow. Liquor baron Vijay Mallya, who hosts the more-than-a crore Derby night — an event marked in bold in every socialite’s calendar — with increasing glitz every year, wanted “a change of content” this year.

And Iglesias, one of the biggest properties in the international music scene, was on, said a spokesperson of the Mallya-owned UB group.

But, at a very short notice, Iglesias cancelled the tour after the US sent a cable to its embassies worldwide asking overseas Americans to keep their passports ready so that they could move out quickly in the event of terrorist attacks or political unrest in their countries of residence, the spokesperson said.

Iglesias’ office informed the Mumbai-based event management company handling the trip that, according to the directive, such tours would be unsafe given “the unstable situation in the Gulf”.

As UB was informed only about 15 days ago and there was no time to line up the desi celebs who usually adorn the extravaganza, Mallya cancelled the Derby night.

UB didn’t disclose the amount, but the cancellation has saved several crores of rupees. “Our Derby night budget would be unprecedented if Iglesias had come,” said the spokesperson.

The premier event — the Indian (Mumbai) Derby is considered the country’s most glamorous racing event — isn’t affected by Iglesias’ cancelled trip. But purists among race enthusiasts are glad the sideshow is not happening. This time, they are already a little disappointed with the cut in the winner’s purse — the winner’s stakes have come down to Rs 41 lakh from the previous year’s Rs 46 lakh. “If the singer had come, he would have completely overshadowed the race,” said a Derby-goer.

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