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Moonlight Romance shines bright at the McDowell Signature Indian Derby - By Mohit Lalvani

Posted on - 08 Feb 2011


Moonlight Romance shines bright at the McDowell Signature Indian Derby

By Mohit Lalvani



Moonlight Romance ran the race of her life to ward off stablemate Ocean and Beyond, to win the McDowell Signature Indian Derby at the Mahalaxmi Racecourse. The heroine of the Indian Oaks two weeks ago was looking a picture in the paddock and clocked a timing which was just a shade off the existent track record. It was indeed a time for everyone connected to the filly to be over the moon as she took home 1 crore 30 lakhs. Her owners Mr Rakesh Kumar Wadhawan, Mr Waryam Singh and Mr Prem Tharani were elated whilst receiving the trophy from Dr. Vijay Mallaya. Trainer Cooji Katrak lead in his first Indian derby winner and it is the first time that jockey David Allan has won this race too.

The Derby Day also marked an important occasion-the renewal of the contract of UB Group and RWITC till 2017. Dr Vijay Mallya, Chairman, UB Group and Vivek Jain, Chairman of the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) made the announcement along with a cake-cutting ceremony.



Speaking on the occasion, Chairman Dr. Vijay Mallya said, “I am happy about the long association with RWITC and intend to continue for a long time. The McDowell Signature Indian Derby is one of the hottest occasions on the sporting circuit and I am happy  to see so many people all turned out in their finest regalia, looking good and with lovely hats and in lovely safaris.”

The most awaited and glamorous sporting event on the Indian sports circuit saw a heady mix of socialites, celebrities and the swish set thronging the grounds. Those present were Sidhartha Mallya, Signature Brand Ambassador Abhay Deol, Rohit Bal, Atul Kasbekar, Natasha Poonawala, Nishka Lulla, Nisha Jamwal, Sudhir Misra, Arunoday Singh, Amrita Rao Haydri and Manasvi Mamgai amongst others.

Brand ambassador of Signature, actor Abhay Deol added a new dimension of bold styling to the Derby and participated in the post race trophy presentation for the McDowell Signature Indian Derby 2011. As a style icon himself, Abhay epitomizes a vibrant and distinct personality that reflects the brand attributes.

Abhay said, “It’s my first time at the Derby and it’s been quite exciting. I bet on a horse and I lost! But it’s been a great experience to be here meeting people and seeing what goes on at the Derby. I am definitely coming again!”

Once again the McDowell Signature Indian Derby was marked with unparalleled entertainment, high-voltage sporting action and glamour truly making it a playground of the Bold and the Beautiful.

Vijay K Rekhi, President & Managing Director, United Spirits Limited, said, “The McDowell Signature Indian Derby is India's much awaited rendezvous for the bold and beautiful with a unique confluence of the virility of the horses and the class acts that take entertainment to a new paradigm. It is the most coveted crown in horse racing and one of the most prestigious event in the sporting calendar. Whether it is the bloodstock experts, celebrities or the international and home media representatives, all will go away satiated by having witnessed the electrifying confluence of sport, fashion, fun and high-energy excitement.”

 Mr Rekhi added, “With 27 years of continued association with the Indian Derby, it is perhaps the longest continued corporate association for an elite sport in India. The pulse and pace of driving innovations at the McDowell Signature Indian Derby is no different that the bold leaps that United Spirits is making towards global leadership. Every year we create new benchmarks in the industry. McDowell Signature Indian Derby 2011 will surge ahead of all records set up so far in our 27 year long association.”

 “The McDowell Signature Indian Derby is a ‘Signature’ moment that crowns the best equine athlete in India and is a shining example of a great lifestyle sporting event in India that firmly places Mumbai and India on the world Derby map. The 2011 renewal announces bolder excitement and higher stakes. With a prize purse of over Rs.2.25 Crores and with two and half minutes of race time, this is arguably the most highly paid sporting pay out in India. Signature international entertainment acts, the who’s who of the fashion world and the electric fervor of the racing enthusiasts- all make the McDowell Signature Indian Derby, an event that truly cannot be missed”, he added.

 ‘Saddle Up’, named after Dr. Mallya’s legendary horse, was created as the Signature cocktail for the McDowell Signature Indian Derby and keeping with the Derby traditions worldwide, this Signature whisky based cocktail is now part of Derby tradition as is the mint julep in Kentucky. The freshness of the beverage from the Signature stable is just right to quench every Derby thirst over the weekend.

Vivek Jain, Chairman of the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) said, “It was one of our best days ever. Record attendance, a super race, a delighted sponsor and a very satisfied public. It’s a dream finish to a tireless effort."

 From the prize money to the entertainment, the quality of the race to the record crowd of nearly 26,000, the McDowell Signature Indian Derby is all set to break new ground in sports and entertainment. The record prize money of nearly 2.18 crores has not only set a new benchmark for a single sporting event in the country, but is the fore runner of a massive build up as the UB Group and the RWITC have signed a renewal of the agreement till 2017, at a massive 28 crores. The prize pool for the race is set to surpass 3 crores and touch 3.5 crores



There were class acts by internationally-renowned performers over the 2-day event which included a special appearance by Billy West, regarded as Europe’s No.1 Freddie Mercury impersonator. Billy's repertoire includes 25 hits and every song is performed in the original key. All the costumes he wears are perfect copies of the originals. The brilliant vocals and commanding stage presence together with his unique sense of theatricality showcased a superb visual act, sensational music and a high energy show full of power and passion.



Joining him were the Pussycat Dollies who began as a tribute band to the Pussycat Dolls and who have now emerged as a popular commercial and dance tribute act themselves.

Accompanying Billy West and the Pussycat Dollies were the energetic Shaolin Monks. The monks with several disciplines enthralled all with their agility and acrobatic segments.

The custom-designed 16000 sq ft air-conditioned hangar hosted all the performances and entertainment acts for the McDowell Signature Indian Derby 2011, including a carnival bazaar, tarot card reader, foot spa, nail bar and more.

One lucky patron – Mr Ravikant, was the winner of a Mercedes car in a contest of skill at the Derby Sweepstakes this year at the McDowell Signature Indian Derby.

About McDowell Signature Rare Aged Whisky

McDowell’s Signature Rare Whisky is amongst the leading brands in the premium whisky segment, and is a millionaire brand (sales of over a million cases) in the United Spirits portfolio. It is a full-bodied blend with a well-rounded bouquet of peated malts and a generous infusion of Scotch. Signature is young, stylish and has become a sign of discernment.

Exquisite whiskies from Scotland are combined perfectly with the finest aged Indian malts. This is blended for an extended period of time to ensure the essence of various scotches, each adding its distinct flavor, in every sip.

About United Spirits Limited:

United Spirits Limited (USL) is the INR 7500 Crores spirits arm of the UB Group. USL was earlier McDowell and Company Limited. USL is headquartered in Bangalore with a global footprint and has 7500 employees across various locations. USL has a portfolio of more than 140 brands, of which 20 are millionaire brands and has manufacturing and bottling units at 84 locations across the country.

USL represents the merged entities of erstwhile McDowell & Co. Limited, Phipson Distillery Limited, United Spirits Limited, Herbertsons Limited, Triumph Distillers and Vintners Private Limited, Baramati Grape Industries Limited, United Distillers India Limited, McDowell International Brands Limited and Shaw Wallace Distilleries Limited and Shaw Wallace & Co. The erstwhile McDowell & Co. Limited was first established as a proprietary business in 1826. For detailed information, please

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