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Saddle up for a super Sunday at the derby

Derby day 2013

A crore and more at stake, horses at their peak, a jackpot of Rs 10lakh, good food, fine fashion, great ambience and a gentle January sun — the good life doesn’t get any better than the Eveready Calcutta Derby Stake 2013-14 Grade I, to be held in association with The Telegraph on December 12 at the Royal Calcutta Turf Club.

The race will begin at noon and end at 5pm, with nine races on the cards. The big one is, of course, the derby, which will be the seventh race. Another highlight is the ninth race, The Telegraph Cup.

The total stakes for the derby is about Rs 1.93 crore and the winner takes home a neat Rs 1crore and 12 lakh. Ten horses will be in the running, three from Bangalore, the rest from Calcutta.

Actress Rituparna Sengupta at the RCTC event last year

The visitors

Arabian Warrior: owned by Vijay Mallya, trained by J.S. Dhariwal

Charlatan: owned by Vijay Mallya, trained by S.S. Attaollahi, won the Calcutta 2000 Guineas Grade 2

Evraz: owned by Rajan Aggarwal & Gautam Agarwal, trained by D. Byramji.

The Calcutta contenders

Argiano: owned by Deepak Khaitan, trained by Vijay Singh

Adiella: owned by Deepak Khaitan, trained by Vijay Singh, ridden by Mumbai jockey A. Sandesh

Exclusive Colours: owned by Deepak Khaitan, trained by Vijay Singh

Snowdrift: owned by Deepak Khaitan, trained by Vijay Singh, ridden by champion jockey C. Alford

Artesia: owned by Deepak Khaitan, trained by Manvendra Singh, won the Calcutta Oaks Grade 3 in December

nCaptain Courageous: owned by M.A.M. Ramaswamy, trained by D.M. David

Multimagic: owned by K.H. Vachha, trained by the only woman trainer in Calcutta, Arti Doctor

Deepak Khaitan, the vice-chairman of Eveready Industries as well as the chair of the stewards’ body of RCTC, admitted that it was highly unusual for him to have five horses competing in the same race.

“All of them are in top condition, if they belonged to different owners they would have all surely competed. So I had no option but to run all five,” he laughed, adding that he was looking forward to a “fun day out” on Sunday, which is “the biggest event for the horsing fraternity”.

Fellow steward and horse-owner Subir Dasgupta agreed. “The people of Calcutta mark this date on their calendars and come to RCTC, the second-oldest racecourse in the world, in huge numbers, close to 20,000.”

Not just equine enthusiasts, derby day is fun for everyone, as banking employee Sudeshna Basu will tell you. “I attended the Monsoon Derby last year and had loads of fun. Given the fine weather, I am looking forward to the winter derby now,” she said.

The other big attraction on Sunday will be a carried-over jackpot of Rs 10lakh that’s yours to take home if you know your odds and dividends and can woo lady luck.

“For the jackpot, one has to predict the winners of the last five races of the day. If you get all five right, you win the jackpot,” explained Anit Casyab, assistant general manager (racing), RCTC.

If more than one person gets it right, the jackpot is split.

Well, jackpot or not, with a lavish food court, well-stocked bar, DJ Sammy at the console and Calcutta’s swish set glamming up the stands, it’ll be a super Sunday for sure.