[Video of Indian Derby below] A brilliant ride at Mahalaxmi today by jockey Y.S. Srinath atop Alaindair (Multidimensional – God’s Grace) enabled the gelding to nail the public fancy, Dubawi’s son Murioi, and then stride away without alarms to win comfortably by two and a half lengths from the filly Starry Eyes (Multidimensional – Pricewise) in the McDowell Signature Indian Derby, Gr.1 in record time of 2.28.05. In fact, the Richard Hughes-ridden Circle of Life (Singspiel – Sing Dubai), who finished third a neck behind Starry Eyes, clocked a faster time than Jacqueline’s 2.28.54. The 5/4 favourite Murioi was a further neck behind in fourth.
The Indian Oaks victress Isn’t She Special went to the front at the off and stayed there till the top of the straight. Unlike in the Oaks, she was never allowed to open a gap and Jeremiah, considered the main threat to the favourite, reined her in as they came into the straight. Seeing Jeremiah make his move, the Irish jockey Chris Hayes, flown in specially for the race, also moved up on Murioi. That played into the hands of Srinath on Alaindair who was steered away from a mid-field position on the rails to come with a run down the centre. Murioi got the better of Jeremiah but as Alaindair ranged up on his outside and Starry Eyes drew level on the rails, he was fighting a losing battle. Murioi had always been ridden by Sreekanth in all his previous starts and one will never know how much the jockey change cost the favourite.
Y.S. Srinath has been a leading jockey in India for some years now. His late father was once the Chairman of the Bangalore Turf Club and it was his love of riding horses which made him choose the profession. He is hence from quite a different background than most jockeys in India. Intelligent and capable of riding a powerhouse finish as he did today, he is generally considered a rider for the big occasion. There is no bigger stage in India than the Derby and Alaindair provided him with his first winner of the Mumbai race, though he has previously been aboard winners of the Indian Oaks and Indian St. Leger.
Alaindair was trained by Altamash Ahmed, a young trainer who has taken huge strides in a very short time. He trained last year’s Indian St. Leger winner An Acquired Taste and had earlier sent Alaindair to win the Bangalore Colts’ Championship, Gr.1 and the Kingfisher Derby Bangalore, Gr.1. The last five winners of the Bangalore Summer Double had failed to win the Indian Derby but Alaindair and Altamash Ahmed defied that piece of history.
The winner is owned by Dr. Nevill R. Devlaliwalla, Miss Ameeta Mehra, and Mr. Gaurav Sethi and was the thirteenth bred at Miss Mehra’s Usha Stud. Miss Mehra has owned a share in four of them, the first one as far back as 1983. For the Freshman Sire sensation Multidimensional, of course, it was his first Indian Derby. The son of Danehill, who descends from the family of Mr. Prospector, has had seven ‘Classic’ winners in his first crop and they include Derby winners at Bangalore, Calcutta, and Hyderabad. Six of those winners have Razeen in the bottom of their pedigrees; that brings full-brothers His Majesty and Graustark 4×4 into a pedigree. Needless to say, dams of both Alandair and Starry Eyes are daughters of Razeen.
The Derby winner’s dam suffered a grievous mishap in the paddock as a youngster, survived miraculously and was named God’s Grace when retired as a broodmare without racing. Her dam did win the Calcutta Oaks, Gr.3 but by and large the family has shown more speed than stamina till today. The next dam, a daughter of Whistling Wind called Miss Goolagong, was imported by Usha Stud in 1977. The line goes back to the Minting mare Maisie, a useful rather than an elite family. In India, it has earlier provided the Indian 2000 Guineas, Gr.1 winner Perfect Timing.
(Video courtesy of RWITC Mumbai)