Two Shirke runners — Aston Martin and the Calcutta Derby winner Bruckner — led the field after it had settled down and entered the backstretch with Golconda Derby victor Classerville in their slipstream. This time, instead of sitting dead last, Hughes had a couple of runners behind him. Coming to the final bend, Bruckner had found the pace too hot and was back-pedalling; Classerville brought them into the straight only to be left standing by Becket’s effortless surge. Becket bounded forward with such gusto and ease that it looked as if the veteran trainer S. Padmanabhan would finally win the one big race that has eluded him.
Neither Becket (Martin Dwyer up) nor Padmanabhan had reckoned with Jacqueline and Hughes. As in the Indian Oaks, Hughes brought the filly down the centre of the track, saw Becket with a healthy advantage and roused the filly with a couple of cracks. Her response was immediate and Hughes switched her to the rails, aimed her at the narrow gap and the filly went through it like a lioness. Once she had got on even terms, Hughes put the whip away and she was always the winner thereafter even if the margin was a narrow one. Native Knight (by Placerville) finished third — 2 3/4 lengths behind the runner-up — but well clear of Onassis, thus reversing their Ruia Gold Cup placings.
Having achieved what no other filly has recorded before, Jacqueline deserves to savour the moment and bask in the limelight. An assessment of her intrinsic worth and place in the history can be deferred for later.
For the record, Jacqueline is owned by Mr.and Mrs. Vijay Shirke (Indian Derby with Noble Eagle earlier), Mr. and Mrs. K.N. Dhunjibhoy (Indian Derby winner Indictment in their own colours) and Mr. Berjis Desai. The proud owners were also richer by Rs. 12,738,000 (US $ 250,000; give or take a few dollars). For Pesi Shroff it was his first Indian Derby. The former champion jockey — he piloted nine Indian Derby winners first past the post though one was subsequently disqualified for failing the dope test — saddled his first winner of the Blue Riband in Jacqueline. Shroff commenced training just five years ago and last year had Set Alight in his yard. It will take a brave man to bet against his bettering his riding record as a trainer.
Mr. Sultan Singh must have been overjoyed with the result for both Jacqueline and Becket were bred at his Sohna Stud, some 40 km. to south of India’s capital New Delhi. He has had much success with his imported ‘in-utero’ foals including the 2006 Indian Derby winner Velvet Rope.
This was also the first time that two foals conceived abroad have fought out the finish of the Indian Derby. Interestingly, their sires have been banished from their original homes. King Charlemagne (sire of Jacqueline) is now in Italy while Hawk Wing finds himself in the rocky, volcanic, honeymoon island of Cheju south of Korea. Jacqueline’s pedigree has been discussed before. All that remains is to add a piece of trivia. Almyra, the fourth dam of Sea the Stars, not only descends from the Crafton’s daughter Alveole but is inbred to that mare. Templeogue, the third dam of Jacqueline, is also inbred to Alveole.
Click here to see the chart (Race #9) of the race.