WHEN a 5th grade class was asked which the fastest land animal was, twenty nine of the thirty students pre dictably responded with “cheetah“.
However, when the one who didn't, was asked by the teacher what he thought the correct answer was, pat came his reply. “A cheetah may be the fastest up to a hundred yards but there was no way that the cat would outrun my father's race horse over a mile and a half,“ he said smugly , providing his teacher a lesson in the basic theory of relativity .
The winner of the Indian Derby this Sunday will gallop the mile and a half trip at about 60 kmshr and will unarguably become the fastest land animal on Indian soil over this trip. While this year's field is the biggest in years with twenty one runners, there are eight who seems to stand head and shoulders above the rest. With the exception of Myrtlewood the filly , the other seven are all either colts or geldings. Myrtlewood is a daughter of a champion sire, Multidimensional and will be saddled by Pesi Shroff. She has won over the Derby trip in a style that immediately tossed her to the top of the heap. To add, she has never been beaten at Mahalaxmi, though this will be her sternest test yet.
The boys are led by two sons of Phoenix Tower. The first, Costa Del Sol is a few stables away from Myrtlewood and it will be left to horse whisperer, Pesi Shroff to determine which of his two walks and talks a better game. The second, Phoenix Tiger comes from former champion trainer, Dallas Toddywalla's stable and he too knows how to train Derby winners. There hasn't been much to separate these two from each other so far and both will be eyeing the filly with as much wariness and admiration as they would each other.
The outstation raiders will be led by the versatile and gritty Desert God from the Bangalore based maestro, S Padmanabhan's yard and it will require all his grit to see off the Western India trio.
The Indian Derby is the most demanding race in any thoroughbred's career and on Sunday , the men will be separated from the boys. Or, as is the case here, from the one girl who is standing tall, in their way .