By Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)
On Thursday, trainer Mallesh Narredu and his nephew jockey Suraj Narredu won the New Hope Indian 1000 Guineas, Gr.1 with Godspeed. Today they completed the Guineas double with Dr. M.A. Ramaswamy’s Be Safe (Holy Roman Emperor – Oriental Lady) winning the ABV Nucleas Indian 2000 Guineas, Gr.1. On Godspeed, Suraj Narredu had to be at his best to eke out a neck victory over Maisha. Be Safe provided him with the proverbial armchair ride and he might as well have left his whip in the weighing room.
A 2/10 on favourite on the books, Be Safe returned Rs. 11 on the Tote for a wager of Rs. 10. Speed King, a 50/1 rank outsider in the nine horse field, led from the start with Congressional and Joshua chasing him about five lengths off the pace. Be Safe and Zachary were together, well at the back, with just two runners behind them. Both of them began to improve rounding the only bend in the race with Zachary coming the shortest way along the rails while Suraj Narredu opted to circle the field and make his run widest of all. Congressional had taken over the running coming into the straight. He was passed by Be Safe on a tight rein passing the furlong marker and though Narredu shook the reins to let the colt know he was in a race, he was in cruise mode as he passed the post. The verdict was 2 3/4, 3/4, 3/4 with Zachary edging out Congressional for the runner-up berth and Shivalik Storm plugging on unthreateningly to take the fourth spot. The time of 1.35.78 for the mile trip was on the fast side.
Be Safe made it a hat-trick for Mr. Nirmal Singh’s Hazara Stud, Machiavellianism and Muroi (also owned by Dr. Ramaswamy) having won it in the previous two years. All three of them were imported “in utero” at bargain prices. Empresse Jesse (dam of Machiavellianism) was picked up at Keeneland in 2008 for a paltry $7,500 while Muiroi’s dam Zacheta’s Girl cost 18,000 euros at Goff’s in 2009. Oriental Lady was bought at Tattersalls in 2010 for 8,000 gns. Irish agent Hugo Merry was responsible for the European purchases. Located in an idyllic setting in Himalayan foothills with plenty of acreage, Hazara Stud ended Poonawalla Farms’ unbroken run of seven consecutive Champion Stud Farm titles in 2012-13 and was runner-up to Usha Stud in 2013-14. A prolific importer, its success is based on the exploits of its ” imported in utero” produce. If its produce conceived and born in India were to be of a similar high calibre, it would continue to be in the spotlight. However, deaths of its two stallions, Rebuttal and Dancing Forever, within a few months of each other means that it has to begin anew.
Mallesh Narredu won three Indian 2000 Guineas as a jockey but this was his first as a trainer. A first, too, for jockey Suraj Narredu. Be Safe gave Dr. M.A.M. Ramswamy his seventh winner of the race and 28th Indian Classic. The ‘Grand Old Man’ of Indian racing is rarely seen at the races these days due to health issues.
The Coolmore stallion Holy Roman Emperor has already had Smashing (Zoom Indian Oaks, Gr.1) and Fastest Finger (Deccan Bookmakers’ Golconda 2000 Guineas, Gr.2) in India. That’s an exceptional strike rate for a stallion not standing in India. Be Safe’s dam Oriental Lady is a winner over 2400m. in France. By King’s Best out of a Sadler’s Wells mare, she is bred on the same cross as the Epsom Deby winner Workforce. She traces to Plucky Liege, the dam of Bull Dog, Sir Gallahad III, Admiral Drake and Bois Roussel. Is there any other mare which has produced four chefs de race?
Be Safe has now won seven of his eight races. The R.R. Ruia Gold Cup, Gr.2 over 2000m. in mid-January should be his next race before he steps up to 2400m. in the Indian Derby, Gr.1 on the first Sunday in February. It needs to be mentioned that the colt has already won the Kingfisher Derby Bangalore, Gr.1 over 2000m. in July so the Ruia is not going to be informative.
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[India is a Part 2 country for IFHA Grades, and her Graded races are listed here for informational purposes.The primary Indian Classics are the 1000 and 2000 Guineas, Derby, and Oaks contested at Mahalakshmi racecourse in Mumbai and the St. Leger in Pune in September.]