Malesh Narredu trained Be Safe steamrolled the opposition with effortless ease to win the Gr 1 Kingfisher Derby, the most prestigious race of the season, on a rain drenched track on Sunday. Be Safe`s victory was taken for granted even given the uncertainties associated with the sport. Jockey Suraj Narredu just had to do the job of steering the horse to victory without getting into any trouble and he did that and the handsome son of Holy Roman Emperor did the rest.
The well built Be Safe looked a giant among the pygmies that took him on in the Derby. There was no perceptible threat for him and it was amply illustrated by the fact that Be Safe moved well into the straight on the bridle while the others were being hustled to stay in touch. When Suraj shook the reins inside the final 300 metres, the response was immediate as Be Safe strode out majestically and came home in solitary splendor. Hyderabad challenger Culebra was far away second ahead of Tiger Tops.
Be Safe (Suraj Narredu up) winner of the Kingfisher Derby Bangalore (Gr.1), being led in by trainer M Narredu (right)
Be Safe is in a league of his own and the Hazara Stud Farm produce is destined for greater glory as he is also bred to stay longer. The Indian Derby in February next year will be his big target and he has the class to win that race provided he trains on strongly with all the attendant pressures associated with him being the favourite for that race even at this point of time. The same cannot be said about the horses which finished behind him in the Derby as none of them look good enough for classics in monsoon or winter. Only Culebra may make grater progress than the others.
It rained persistently right through the day making underfoot conditions tricky. With the track already having been soaked by rains over the full week, there was a question mark whether the authorities would be able to go through with the programme. They managed to do so though the official penetrometer reading of 5.8 cms was misleading to say the least. The going became progressively heavier as the day progressed as is evidenced by the timings which were several seconds slower than what was par for each distance. In fact, Be Safe clocked a timing of two minutes 12.44 seconds which itself indicates the heavy underfoot conditions as the record for the distance is held by Set Alight in firm going which stands at two minutes 2.32 seconds.
Supreme Dominator did the job of a pace setter followed by Tiger Tops, Connemara, Be Safe, Prize Find in close proximity. Culebra, Bold Majesty, Remembrance of You, Alexander Mills, Jager Bomb, Silver Phantom and Golden Diamond raced behind the front group. Supreme Dominator packed up at the top of the straight and Tiger Tops showed out in front for a brief while before Be Safe assumed command. It did not need any strong persuasion from Suraj to get the desired response from Be Safe who stretched away from the field to check in about five lengths clear of Culebra who made a futile bid to close up the gap. Tiger Tops weakened to finish third while Bold Majesty was fourth. This was the first success for Suraj in this event. Trainer Malesh had won this event on Smart Chieftain as a jockey.
Ace Badraan who had enjoyed more hype than performance finally came good in the 1800 metres Kolkata Cup, a race for horses rated 60 and above. The race had an open look about it with Aashikaara and Mannat being the ones who had more supporters than the rest. Aashikaara was taken on a start to finish mission by jockey Sandesh and the fancied runner led into the straight but struggled thereafter to sustain his foray in front. Ace Badraan improved places from the rear along the rails, quickened well and then skipped away to win in impressive fashion. Mannat rallied to get past Aashikaara for the second spot.
Padmanabhan trained Pure Allure recorded an emphatic win in the 1200 metres Mumbai Cup, a race for horses rated 40 to 65. The highly talented filly had been laid low by an injury to the hoof after a brilliant workout during the early part of the season. The filly is bred to get longer trip but in the absence of races in the prospectus to suit horses which require long distance races, Pure Allure was run in a six furlong race which was expected to prove too sharp for her. However, her obvious class showed when she came from the last position at the final bend to storm clear inside the final 200 metres with a lightening run which suggested that she can turn into a classic horse. The striking acceleration together with the fact that she is bred to get longer trips should make her as a promising prospect in the classics in winter. Pentagram gave hopes when he shot into the lead in the straight but had no answer when Pure Allure swooped on him. Blitzchnelle was third. Favourite Emperor Cruise who led the field at the top of the straight just packed up and finished last which was surprising to say the least.
Azzurro, who had finished an eye-catching second in his debut run, was backed to the exclusion of the rest in the 1400 metres Hyderabad Cup (Div I), a race for maiden three year olds but the Jaggy Dhariwal trainee flopped miserably. Padmanabhan trained Feliciana was taken on a start to finish mission by jockey Suraj Narredu and the progeny of Ace who perhaps relished the underfoot conditions had the field stranded and was spotted a winner long way from home. Hidden Soldier nosed out Azzurro for the second slot. The lower division of the race also went the way of Padmanabhan`s The Soprano who produced a telling run in the final furlong to collar the front running favourite Zucchero to win as she pleased.
On a day dominated by lesser fancied runners, Altamash Ahmed trained Arrete was the medium of a big punt in the 1200 metres Chennai Cup (Div I), a race for maiden three year olds. Arrete showed good speed from the gates and proved overwhelmingly superior to the rest when he broke away from the rest to win by a street over Flame of Passion who in turn was nearly a distance ahead of the third placed Our Little Dragon. The lower division of the race saw spirited betting coming on Rajesh Narredu trained Super Strong despite the outside draw and jockey Noornabi being declared to ride. The gamble failed to materialize as the favourite failed to get a striking position from the outside draw and was left with too much ground to cover when Millrose shot away with about 300 metres left in the race. Sunday Spotlight emerged from the rear group to finish third.
Ganapathy trained Alerio improved places along the opening that was available along the rails as most of the runners spread across the field in search of good ground in the 1400 metres Mysore Cup, a race for horses rated 20 to 45 and managed to pull off a thrilling win over Authentic who came with a menacing run in the final furlong but fell short by a whisker. Jingle Bells who led till displaced by Alerio stayed on to finish third.
Stimulate had found the winning post elusive despite giving hopes of a possible win on both the occasions he ran during the season. He finally made amends in the 1600 metres Delhi Cup, a race for horses rated 20 to 45. Mickey Mouse was backed to the exclusion of the rest. The market fancies raced ahead of the rest and though Mickey Mouse had the first run on his opponent, Stimulate, in the hands of apprentice Yash Narredu, fought out a resolute battle and managed to prevail in the end. Last start winner Winning Story claimed the third place.