The Telegraph
Monday , January 13 , 2014
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Hot hooves ’n’ high fives mark Derby day

Ritu Aggarwal of New Alipore has come up with the perfect formula to ace the races. Every time.

“I have told my husband Rohit that he’s allowed to bet on horses on two conditions — one, he gives me half of every win, and two, he gives me an equal amount of what he loses. He just loves to bet, doesn’t care if he loses. And it’s a win-win for me,” laughed the young homemaker decked out in a lacy pearl white dress she picked up in Singapore.

Ritu and Rohit were among the 18,000-strong crowd that enjoyed a super Sunday at the Eveready Calcutta Derby Stake 2013-14 Grade I, held in association with The Telegraph at the Royal Calcutta Turf Club.

Derby day is one of the most important in the city’s racing calendar and the winter Derby is even more special, given the fine weather and general atmosphere of merriment at the Turf Club.

No wonder Richa Arora, a second-year student of Loreto College, waited a whole year to bring her parents for the Derby experience, having herself had a hoof-hoof-hurrah time last year with friends.

The day started at noon and there were nine races on the cards, the big one being race No. 7, aka the Derby, with a total stake of Rs 1.93 crore. The winner bagged a booty of around Rs 1.12 crore.

The Derby was won by horse No. 8, Snowdrift, trained by Vijay Singh, ridden by C. Alford and co-owned by Eveready Industries vice-chairman and RCTC chairman Deepak Khaitan, his fellow RCTC steward and Eveready colleague Subir Dasgupta and others.

“Last year, Snowdrift’s brother Snowscape won the Derby and I was very happy to see Snowdrift win this year. What made me even happier was the impressive margin he won by — six-and-a-half lengths! The crowd too was very happy since Snowdrift was a favourite to win the Derby,” said Dasgupta.

Sachin Mohta, who works in real estate, may not have won at the stakes but “it was money well-spent,” he grinned, downing a can of chilled beer.

Julie Mehta would agree. “We come for the races only once a year, on Derby day. It’s such a happening place,” smiled the businesswoman, making a fashion statement in a red jacket and Vero Moda trousers.

If it was fists in the air at race time, it was finger-lickin’ food in between races as guests gathered at the foodcourt that served up everything from biryani and fried chicken to pork vindaloo with lemon rice and veggie teriyaki with papaya salad, rounded off with chocolate doughnuts and more.

“Sunday was yet another grand success. It was a packed house and we were very happy that personalities like Ramesh Sippy and Vijay Mallya graced the occasion. Dr Mallya also handed over a special memento on behalf of RCTC to a senior trainer from Bangalore, J.S. Dhariwal,” said Anit Casyab, assistant general manager (racing), RCTC.

The other grand attraction was a carried-over jackpot of Rs 10 lakh. To win the jackpot, one had to predict the winners of the last five races of the day. There were 38 people who got it right and the jackpot was split among them. Others who got four out of five right received a consolation payout.

n Jackpot results: Race 5 won by Gararo; Race 6 won by Deserving Visit; Race 7 won by Snowdrift, Race 8 won by Arktouros and Race 9 (The Telegraph Cup) won by Hurricane Star.

If you enjoyed the delights of Derby day, next up is a royal treat at the Queen’s Cup, to be held on February 8.