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"Will Sponsor the Indian Derby for All Time to Come" says Vijay Mallya - By Mahendra Mallya

Posted on - 06 Feb 2016

"Will Sponsor the Indian Derby for All Time to Come" – Vijay Mallya
By Mahendra Mallya

The Kingfisher Ultra Indian Derby partnered by Signature has Begun to churn up the excitement the city of Mumbai experiences early in the first week of February each year. One of the important lead-up events for the Indian Derby (Gr1) is the post position draw and unlike other races, the connections of the Derby runners get a chance to chance their luck at the draw for their own wards.

The attendance for the event is by 'invites' only and boy does the invite list goes long! Needless to say, the beautiful lawns at the RWITC was filled to near capacity (the RWITC lawns are massively huge) and the elaborate mega-stage set for the occasion added to the ambience.

The evening began with the suave and charming Ms Mandira Sawhney Lalwani welcoming the gathering and setting off the show with the Classical version of the National Anthem rendered by legendary vocal artists as everyone stood up in respect. That done, Mandira then invited Mr Zavaray Poonawalla, Chairman of the RWITC to officially open up the proceedings for the 'Post Position Draw Night' for the Indian Derby.

"I extend a very warm welcome to everyone here and I want you all to enjoy the evening. We have a well-packaged evening for you ahead. I would like to thank Dr Vijay Mallya for his continued support over the decades, said Mr Poonawalla. He recalled those old times when Dr Mallya used to visit the Poonawalla Stud Farm buying horses bred by the farm. "Vijay picked one and I had chosen to keep and the usual arguments began. It ended in a draw as we became partners in that ownership which was Prudential Champ who won the Indian Derby for us. It was not long after that Vijay took away the Derby rights and I must congratulate him for churning up the Indian Derby magic the way it has and keeping the high trend going even better with the years. Dr Vijay Mallya's USL and the RWITC have shared the longest partnership and now with his other corporate the UB Group joining in, I can safely say that this is the beginning of another long innings." He then requested Dr Vijay Mallya on stage to address the gathering.

Dr Vijay Mallya began to express how the Indian Derby has always remained a passion for him. "The Indian Derby has always been the biggest and richest race in the country, but it lacked what it has achieved today. I wanted to create yet another platform which would appeal to our target audience in this most important city which is the opinion-setter for brand sales nationwide. I think we can take a small measure of credit in building up the Indian Derby to the spectacular level it enjoys today, as an important event in Mumbai's social calendar," said Dr Mallya.

On the suspenseful phase with regard to the uncertainty on this year's Indian Derby sponsorship, Dr Mallya clarified, "It is incorrect we were going to walk away. Marketing geniuses all over the world keep changing their priorities regularly and I can reveal to you that my marketing people, over the past 32 years, have told me that money can be better spent on mass media advertisement than on sponsoring events. I disagreed with them and my will prevailed. So when Signature decided to move away to other events, I immediately asked Kingfisher Ultra to sponsor this event which we have invested in for the last 32 years! Ultra, as the name suggests, is the finest of the finest. And with the finest, biggest, richest race, it was only appropriate that the Indian Derby was sponsored by Kingfisher Ultra," said Dr Mallya.

Dr Vijay Mallya concluded saying "To specifically answer Zavaray's question (on the tenure of sponsorship), we would like to be associated to this spectacular event for all time to come." The audience responded with a thunderous applause followed on his big, frank, generous statement which  clarified once and for all that Dr Vijay Mallya and the Indian Derby won't ever be separated!

Mr Vivek Jain, along with Mr Zavaray Poonawalla, did the honors of presenting a special memento to Dr Mallya on behalf of the RWITC.

"It is the time when the RWITC hosts its grandest and most eagerly awaited race of the year – The Kingfisher Ultra Indian Derby partnered by Signature. It is also important to have successfully brought two gigantic brands, Signature and Kingfisher Ultra and retain an iconic partnership, a result of tireless efforts in congregating to one common goal. As I had said jokingly in the press conference it is easier to get the two Liquor giants together than to get the factions of the RWITC on the same page," said Mr Vivek Jain.

Dwelling into the record stakes on offer, Mr Jain stated, "This year's Derby Weekend payout exceeds Rs Five Crore with the Indian Derby alone dishing out a hefty purse of Rs 3.65 Crore. The winner will receive a cheque of about Rs 2.1 Crore the highest for any single event and fastest too as it would scooped in just around two-and-half minutes! We are grateful to both the United Spirits and United Breweries for their confidence in the RWITC and in the sport of horseracing. The entire credit for the magnificent growth of the Indian Derby to its present stature must go to Dr Vijay Mallya, who as Chairman of the United Spirits Ltd sponsored the Indian Derby for the first time in 1985 when sponsorship for horseracing was unheard of. Next year will be the Platinum Jubilee of the Indian Derby and we will ensure that this will be celebrated with fitting grandeur and pomp," said Mr Jain.

On what to expect this weekend, Mr Jain said, "It will be a weekend of carnival and festivities. There will be entertainment, music, a flea market, gaming zones where betting vouchers can be won and to cap it a luxury car as grand prize for one lucky winner! To add a Royal touch to the proceedings we will drive Dr Mallya to the main track for the presentation in a horse-driven cart. The races will go live on Neo Prime and Bloomberg channels to bring the action to a million homes. The dress code has been relaxed to attract the young and the fashionables. While thanking Dr Mallya for allowing us to bring in other sponsors, I also express gratitude to India Bullion & Jewellers Association, Bright Outdoor, Madhur Bajaj, Radio One, Chettinad Trust, Kunigal Stud and the Rattonsey Family for supporting the weekend." Mr Jain also did not forget to thank Mandira and Mohit Lalvani citing, "Mandira & Mohit have worked relentless with me and I also want to mention that Mohit played a critical part in putting the deal through."

Kailash Kher then took centre stage and turned the atmosphere to that of lilting music enthralling one and all with his famous numbers. He was interactive with the masses and got off stage to mix with the audience keeping up his spirited performance late into the evening. He mixed his soulful songs like Tu Meri Jaan hai to the foot-tapping peppy number Yeh Duniya Ootpataanga energizing the audience who took to the floor in an instant. Some even invaded the stage and the singing sensation sportingly sang and danced with them all through making it a memorable night.

Mandira and Mohit Lalvani then quickly went through the draw procedures and the main contenders would have no reason to complain on the draw numbers they picked.

The countdown has now begun for the D Day. The morning had seen the aspirants go through their final track work and the top fancies Costa Del Sol, Desert God, Phoenix Tiger and the filly Myrtlewood all looked in fine rhythm.

The questions are now in place. Be the witness for the answers that will be scripted on Sunday at quarter-past-five in the evening. As for now, here's my tail script:

A Star Formation will set out to the gates and the turf will be SetAflame. One can expect a Bullrun on entering the homestretch and someone in the pack will make a bid for Bold Command past the Grand Stands, while the rest will make a Bold Appeal to their respective mounts to produce that Brilliant Cut in timing and generate that extra bit to emerge in full Magnificence. The connections are certain to enjoy the feeling of Ultra fizz oozing over from their 'mug' of joy with a Signature of supreme success writ large on their faces!

Brace, ladies and gentlemen, for the Kingfisher Ultra Indian Derby partnered by Signature - the race the Nation Loves!  
(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are the author's personal views.)  

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