The postponed running of the Kingfisher Derby Bangalore, Gr.1, took place Sunday afternoon in pleasant weather and good going and the Colts’ Championship, Gr.1, winner Pronto Pronto (Major Impact – Sandslash) became the 16th winner of that race to add the Derby laurels. He spared a neck to Severstahl (Diffident – Suave Star) and a length and three-quarters to stablemate Romantique (by China Visit, sire of last year’s winner Moonlight Romance, out of the Indian Oaks winner Romantic Liaison). The winner and the runner-up had coughed up a final Entry Fee of Rs. 1.6 million which they more than recouped but the Fillies’ Championship, Gr.1, victress Lovely Kiss—who started the favourite—came up a bit short as she finished only fourth. The winning time of 2.08.03 was only moderate. Pronto Pronto is owned by Mr. Pallon Mistry, the doyen of Manjri Horse Breeders Farm Pvt. Ltd. where the winner was foaled, and Mr. D.R. Thacker.
Pronto Pronto had just got the better of Dr. Vijay Mallya’s Speed Six last month in the Colts’ Championship where the latter was slated to have been ridden by the Aussie jockey N.T. Callow. Callow packed his bags and headed for the Malaysian circuit on the eve of the race with the result that only the comparatively inexperienced Trevor Patel could be found at the last minute. Taking no chances for the Derby, the Mallya camp had brought out the Irish rider Chris Hayes last Sunday when labour problems caused the postponement of the race. Prior commitments meant that Hayes was not available this week-end. Speed Six, however, had not finished with his woes. He was withdrawn mid-week having been found with an “inflamed right-fore cannon”.
The starter sent off the seventeen runners and though the grey Super Duper showed out early, the lead changed periodically with African Queen and Magnitude having their turn at the helm of affairs. Inevitably, there was a bit of bunching up before the final bend and it was Preordained who led them as they finally straightened. Severstahl moved smoothly from the mid-field to overtake Preordained and set sail for home. All this while, jockey Srinath had kept Pronto Pronto at the rear of the field and angled out the chestnut gelding, produced him on the wide outside; he went after Severstahl and got his measure about 20 metres from home. It was a perfect ride and much remniscent of his effort on Allaire to shade Six Speed at the wire. This time, he had the race bagged a little earlier. Srinath, who has been astride the gelding in all his six races, has obviously struck up a good rapport with the horse.
Pronto Pronto thus became the second son—after Diabolical—of former Jonabell Farms stallion Major Impact to win a Derby in India. Three full-brothers—Smart Chieftan, Classical Act and Southern Empire—have won the Derby Bangalore in the last twelve years and they have the Ratification mare Ruta (dam of Arc winner Sassafras) as their third dam. Pronto Pronto has Ruta as his fourth dam. This is the family founded by of Lord Derby’s famous mare Schiaparelli and no less than seven winners of this race descend from her, six through her Hyperion daughter Barley Corn and one from Herringbone (by King Salmon).
Someone who is deeply interested in pedigrees may like to have a look at Barley Corn’s and notice the 2×2 presence of three-parts related Selene and Schiavoni as also the intricate relationship between Canterbury Pilgrim and Gondolette. This is the fourth Manjri-bred winner of Derby Bangalore, the first one having come way back in 1968 though a horse called Buck Passer. Manjri was then owned by the Scindias of Gwalior from whom the Mistrys took over in mid-’80s. Flirting Vision (1991) and Littleover (1993) were bred during the Mistry era, though Pronto Pronto alone has carried their colours.
Trainer Imtiaz A Sait, based at Mumbai, has been in the business for about three and a half decades. Having sent out 18 winners of Indian Classics, he is third in the all-time list and he was won a dozen championships at Mahalakshmi. He had earlier sent out two winners each of the Fillies’ Trial Stakes and Colts’ Trial Stakes but was still looking for his first in the Derby Bangalore. He seemed to have gone a bit off the boil of late. Pronto Pronto’s Colts’-Derby double and saddling the winner and the third placed Romantique here suggests that he is back with a vengeance.
The winner’s pay-check was Rs. 14.2 m; that equates to about US $ 315,000.